Dying malls are death poems to conspicuous consumption.
I grew up in the Eighties, which I think of as the age of conspicuous consumption and gratuitous shopping malls. After all, what is a shopping mall but a temple dedicated to shopping and consumerism? I have to admit, I spent a lot of time in malls growing up. It was pretty much the center of teen life back then and even someone as aggressively uncool as me felt the inexorable attraction. There’s still a part of me that loves going to the mall. Sad, but true.
But, I’ll tell you what’s even more fascinating to me than the malls of my youth; malls that are dying or abandoned. And, from what I understand, there are quite a few of them shutting down now. They remind me of the incredible dystopian science-fiction movies of that same youth of mine. After the end of civilization, malls were going to be the devastated landscape over which we crawled to survive.
I was reminded of all that this week by a Gizmodo article about a guy who tours, and documents, dying malls. As the article says, it’s both horrifyingly bland and terribly fascinating to watch this guy go through malls that are basically empty or in the process of dying a slow, slow death. I mean, there’s nothing much to see, but I found myself staring in rapt fascination at the perfectly preserved, incredibly common, malls that reminded me so much of my own misspent youth. It’s stunning to see how similar they all are, as if one architect designed them all. Bizarre.
In any case, if you want to bypass the Gizmodo article, you can go right to videographer Dan Bell’s Dead Malls Series YouTube channel and watch these yourself. I’ve only seen one so far, but I’m sure when my blushing bride has drifted off to sleep this weekend, I’ll sneak back out to the big TV to watch them in hi-def. They’re weirdly addictive!