The Mall

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Shopping mall 5162.jpg

A stock Settings for any work set in Suburbia, The Mall can be seen as the modernized version of the Main Streets that populate Everytown, America. Stores lined up along clean hallways populated by teenagers, parents with kids, and elderly people who have little better to do than walk around the mall all day. Will usually have a movie theater, a central meeting place (often with a fountain), and a food court. A job at a mall store is usually treated as second only to working in fast food in the hierarchy of Most Humiliating Jobs for Teenagers (bonus points if they work at a fast-food restaurant located inside a mall). The security guards will often be depicted as guys who washed out of (or were rejected from) basic training or the police academy, have an inflated sense of entitlement, and have nothing better to do than harass our heroes over trivial matters.

Like its close cousin, Suburbia, the sterility of malls has often been used for the purposes of social commentary, satirizing the corporatization and consumerism of American society, and has frequently been employed as a symbol of mainstream conformity (especially in youth-focused works) and the destruction of the "little man" by big chain stores.

In older works or in early-mid 20th century period pieces, a department store is likely to serve the same purpose, albeit in a somewhat more idealized fashion (Nostalgia Filter and all).

The natural habitat of the Valley Girl and, come Christmas time, the Mall Santa. This setting is best portrayed in The Eighties, when malls were at their height, since many malls have since gotten rid of the neon and fountains that were featured in that decade and are decline with competition from box stores.

Compare and contrast Bazaar of the Bizarre, Predatory Business.

Examples of The Mall include:


Film[edit | hide | hide all]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The primary setting of Long Hot Summoning, although it's significantly weirder than most malls since it's slowly being turned into a portal to another dimension.
  • The Neil Armstrong Shopping Centre, Blackbury in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, where the main characters hang around while complaining that Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here. Also the location of the ARNCO store that replaced Arnold Bros Department Store in the Nomes Trilogy.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Music[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

"I think there's a metaphor for something in all this."

  • The "JAYSUUUNNN!!!" level in Heavy Rain.
  • The Left 4 Dead 2 level "Dead Center" is partly set here.
  • The mall is the unique building for the Americans in Civilization IV.
  • Dead Space 2 has the Concourse, a mall-like section of the Sprawl.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Daria episode "Malled".
  • 6teen has the mall as its chief setting.
  • A recurring location in The Simpsons. One episode, it's shown to be deserted.
  • The South Park episode "Something You Can Do With Your Finger.
  1. ...Today!