Are McMansions Australian or un-Australian?

A recent ad for “Share the Lamb” includes McMansions as part of its easter eggs:

Screenshot from the end of the “Share the Lamb” advertisement.

Whether these discussions are taking place between patrons in the local pub or constituents in the local council chambers, being dubbed ‘Un-Australian’ has become the ultimate insult to throw in somebody’s face. Generally used as a dig, the term describes something that goes against traditional Australian ideals, thus calling into question aspects of the culture typically associated with national pride. While clearly a country-specific remark, these nationalistic and ethnocentrist themes have become widely recognisable, as cultural identities around the world continue to merge. 

This year, Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) annual summer ‘Share the Lamb’ campaign decided to hone in on the absurdity of this very phrase. Advertising agency The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song, recruited talented director, Yianni Warnock. Known for his ability to draw out the paradoxical humour of a subject, Yianni was tasked with directing this tongue in cheek campaign that pokes fun at the unreasonable – and entirely subjective – specifications of what constitutes ‘Un-Australian.’

Working with Yianni, we worked out that if the characters left a little something behind as they disappeared it would really help sell the effect, and amplify the comedy. The timing of the disappearance also became part of the comedic timing. The big wide-end scene was stitched together from lots of sources. We had a lot of fun putting some Easter eggs in there of various things that might be considered Un-Australian, from ‘McMansions’ to jet skis.  

There are lots of questions of national identity to explore. What makes an Australian? If everyone thinks they are un-Australian, does this make them all Australian?

But, I am most intrigued by the reference to McMansions in the scene captured above. There are a lot of depictions and ideas embedded in this one image. I believe the McMansion is just under the bridge the rises in the top center of the scene. When I zoomed in on this dwelling, it is not as egregious as it might be. The home appears large with an imposing entrance, lots of windows, and a unique architectural style (sort of Mediterranean but some weird angles). I do not know if the impression it makes or better or worse without any other homes around it.

I suppose this means that McMansions are then Australian by being un-Australian? In a country with some of the biggest houses in the world, perhaps McMansions are just extreme or extra-large versions of the homes that mark Australian life.

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