COMM 365: Media and Cultural Theory
Assignment #3 – Critical Essay
Submitted by: Kara McLachlan
My Trip to the Mall:
How Postmodernism Supports My Shopping Habit
I write this in the shadow of a life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex in the
centre of Metrotown Shopping Centre in Burnaby. I embarked on this trip in
hopes of finding the sparks of postmodernism in this mall, but what I found was
overwhelming. The shoppers, the mall, the stores, the products, and even the
mall itself is a postmodern hive of activity. Among the many aspects of
postmodernism, I have chosen to focus on three for the purposes of this paper.
The blurring of lines between genres, styles, and cultures, the use of signification
in a meaningless world, and the culture that has exploded into every aspect of
life, together encourage my shopping habits.
Modern culture was built on a strong commitment to distinctions of all kinds
(Black, p. 11). In postmodernism we see a trend in the opposite direction, seeking
to destroy or blur lines of distinction such as genres, styles, and hierarchies (Black,
p. 11). Some of these distinctions come in the forms of combinations of high and
low cultures or, as Jameson would call it the “synthesis of classical and ‘popular’
styles”. Postmodernism creates its own kind of hybrid genres, forms, and
categories that push the boundaries of modernism (Jameson, p. 1).
Modernist culture tending to look at everything from a somewhat removed
standpoint. It was focussed more with form, while postmodernism tends to like to
get its hands dirty, and would prefer to focus on content (Black, p. 11).
The mall itself is a kind of department store. There is not hierarchy within the
mall, classical and popular styles are found side by side, just as the expensive,
cheap, and moderately priced stores are interspersed, a reflection of a
postmodernist organizational structure (Economist, p. 1).
In the Economist article, it mentions...