The Mall as Prison

Author David Guterson, journalist and novelist, spent a week in The Mall of America on assignment for Harpers Magazine. His essay, “The Mall as Prison”, tells his views on the Mall as a psychological effect on today’s society. He uses witty and sarcastic comments to get his point across. Is American culture being corrupted by what Americans consider a retail structure that is vital to the survival of our needs? He gives different aspects of why our view of a market place is distraction. Guterson makes judgments in this essay about the Mall and the American culture.
Honestly I think that he needs to get with the times and accept this new evolution of shopping. Guterson starts with statistics and facts on the Mall as a retail complex. Opened in the summer of 1992, the mall was conveniently located close to the Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport. How ironically placed. He starts to question the Mall and it’s creators. Was this Mall a tourist attraction? Or a zone of entertainment that is easily accessible to all types of people? Being a male, I feel that Guterson does not fully appreciate the resources found in this mall.
Therefore, this is why he reacting negatively to the Mall. This Mall was designed to not only be a mall, but to also be a tourist attraction that would draw a diversity of different people. Guterson talks about the look and atmosphere affecting the human psychology in the mind to think the situation was suitable. You should go into the mall with the intentions of shopping not with the intent of losing yourself in the mall’s design and structure. Guterson argues that communal areas should be built more for the intention of “eternal desire for discourse and intimacy”.

Our society has lost our goals for what the marketplace should be. These goals cannot be accomplished in giant shopping malls, according to Guterson. Guterson’s only example of the types of people who enjoy shopping at the Mall, is a conversation that I feel is quite cliche and biased. He uses a conversation between two young women named Kathleen and Laura. The conversation is short but says a lot about the types of people who shop at the Mall. They explain that shopping to them is a “sickness” or a “drug”. Laura says: “ Seriously, I feel sorry for other malls.
They’re so small and boring. What does this idea say about today’s youth views on malls and their expectations? Do all malls have to be like The Mall of America? The fact that the Mall is so big, it gives it a special characteristic that no other mall can achieve. Not every trip to the mall has to be above and beyond. According to records, “Rural Americans traditionally looked forward to the excitement and sensuality of market day. ” (Guterson 289) In the past, there were boundaries for market places. Today, anything entertaining is good enough. The Mall, according to Guterson, is not even a market place at all. He considers it a tourist attraction.
The Mall is supposed to be greater than any other mall or tourist attraction. It is supposed to be both. The idea that The Mall of America is a cultural image is not even the word Guterson would use to explain this marvel. The mall has everything you would ever imagine in a theme park, mall, or institution. Anything from marriages to shootings happen in the Mall. Extreme malls aren’t stopping in just the United States. Japan is planning on building a $400 million dollar mall complete with an ice rink, a water park, a fantasy-theme hotel, three breweries, waterfalls, and a sports center.
The concept of shopping will never cease. Every megamall will try and out-do the last. Malls of the world will continue to grow bigger and bigger. Who knew that a place with no windows or clocks would be so claustrophobic yet popular? Who knew that a place selling everything imaginable would be the one of many centers of the United States’ economy? Who knew that this fantasy of a megamall would stimulate something so powerful as to inspire psychological dependence to spending money? No one would have seen it coming. But now that its here, do we take it for granted?
Do we abuse our rights as humans with free will? Guterson argues these points but does not make his conclusions clear. Ending in a sarcastic remark about the Mall’s theme park, “Camp Snoopy”, I feel he does not conclude his thoughts to his essay. As for the future of megamalls? They will never stop impressing the public eye. But Guterson believes that we need to stay on track with our priorities. Guterson explains, “I already knew that the Mall of America had been imagined by its creator not merely as a marketplace but as a national tourist attraction, an immense zone of entertainment. (Guterson 288)
He sees the Mall as a distracting aspect of our society. Guterson makes judgment in this essay about the Mall of America and more broadly about American culture. He also talks about the building of The Mall of America as a tourist attraction and how the mall is degrading the art of architecture because it’s a waste of a building. Guterson has good credentials that make his opinion reliable, but I feel that he needs to look at the positive aspects that the Mall has for the economy and the United States wealth systems. His opinion is respected, but he needs to appreciate what megamalls have offered the world.

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