Anthropology Review: “Malls R US”

Capitalism is authority in “Malls R US

By Crystal Hollis | Fall 2010 | ANTH 1150 World Cultures Through Film

In the film Malls R US the Market is taking over the world, influencing human behavior, and convincing people to buy things they either need or want. While thinking globally, the Market makes continuous effort to get non-modern type societies to conform so that it can accommodate malls and shopping centers by the use of imports and exports. The Market is a living, breathing, changing presence; it became humanized in a modern-type society.  Strangers revolve around the mall for the common purpose of shopping. Malls and shopping centers are institutions that are a direct result of a modern society, where a humanized market attempts to remake the world with goals of free enterprise. People of a modern type society now find purpose in life by working and making money so that they can buy things and enjoy material objects when people of previous types sought relationships and family for purpose.

There is an art and science to influencing people to go to the mall and shop. Mall entrepreneurs use terms such as “the threshold resistance” and “customer impulse purchasing” to influence customer spending. Many accountants, marketers, and entrepreneurs in modern society get educated in business before they set out to make money. They can study human behavior, business ethics, and financial forecasts to gain a competitive edge in the market and influence people to pay for their products or services. Architects study psychology and can figure out which colors and certain shape patterns that would attract the consumer. Education, training, and expertise ultimately decide who leads the free market since having the right knowledge can help with persuading consumers. Because the expert entrepreneurs were able to persuade customers and make money, they have power and authority. They are able to influence foreign cultures to adopt the consumerist culture.

Malls can create new values and traditions, forming a consumerist culture.  Malls are able to influence people to “jump the bandwagon.” Marketing informs the consumer what material objects or services that they are lacking. A woman in the film mentioned that she dresses nicely at the mall trying to be noticed. Shopping and buying things for her pleasure did not seem to be selfish in her opinion; in pampering herself, she is “paying respect to God.”  Some people felt a personal attachment to some malls, like when some people were upset to see the closing of their local mall they grew up with. The malls that close could be found in the Dead Malls website. It is not surprising since in a modern society, the future is focused, present ignored, and past is devalued.

Other cultures and societies are being pressured into integrating modern society characteristics to their way of life. One woman in a middle-eastern country argued with her son about the mall and how she felt that she was being forced to go to the mall. Some experts are so good at marketing and attention-grabbing that they almost hypnotized the confused shopper.

Everyone—the retailers, the guards, and the shoppers—revolved around the malls with a schedule and planning.

Expertise is the authority. The mall guards enforced the retailer’s authority, insisting on the rules and regulations. People are to go to the mall to shop; if someone was doing otherwise, they are disrupting the atmosphere and the conformity.

Competition among retailers is fierce in the free enterprise economic system. The stores band together in one indoor shopping area. The arrangement of location reminds me of the phrase, “Keep your friends close and enemies closer.”

Malls R Us trailer:


Published by Crystal J. Hollis

Crystal Hollis is a North Texas area artist, video/photographer, multimedia producer, digital marketer, and writer. She holds an M.A. degree in Interactive, Virtual, and Digital Communication and B.A. in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of North Texas. She has five years of experience shooting and editing videos and photography. Her interests include film, television, American and Japanese animation and graphic novels, video games, race and gender issues in media, digital media, online marketing, and the art of transmedia storytelling. You may reach her at

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