Let 100 McMansions Bloom?

According to this WSJ article, “Let 100 McMansions Bloom”, they’re building French style mansions in China. It always makes me sad to hear about these developments. I know it’s part of the nation’s economic rise, but it seems like it’s a loss of culture and history, as they pave over farmland and traditional styled homes.

The mansions have a “cookie-cutter” feel to them, and are just one manifestation of China’s “infatuation” with foreign (by which I think they mostly mean American/ Western/ European) lifestyles. The main place featured in the article is a set of mansions called “Palais De Fortune.” The French word for “fortune” is in fact “fortune” but it still gives it this half-translated, Le French Cafe feel to it. Not to mention the directness and lack of subtlety in the name “fortune”—like if someone built a block of mansions here and called it “Rich Street.” The name has even been printed in big letters on a box-shaped sign and plunked prominently on top of the corner gate.

The new houses are regarded as highly desirable by the new wealthy class, and the French mansions are just one of several themed developments—other themes include Europe, Canada, and Space. In response to the suggestion that this is like Disneyland, an real estate agent replies that the Chinese people wouldn’t really mind the comparison. If they saw the WSJ article, they would probably think “McMansions” was a compliment too.

Basically, tacky and tasteless things are happening! And no one is stopping it! It is noted that the building of chateaus by the newly rich is not unprecedented (Gatsby comes to mind, though I suppose there are real-life examples). But that’s no reason to let history repeat itself. Someone say to them Look, this isn’t really what you want to do. Trust me, in a few years, or even right now, people will be ridiculing these places.

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About Lily Huang

Lily Huang is a writer of Taiwanese descent, who lives on the East coast. She grew up in suburbia completely oblivious to Asian culture, and is making up for it now.
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