Daisy Bateman

The New Ghettoization

Did you ever hear about something that you initially took to be a sign of the end of days, but then realized it was actually good news? That’s how I felt when I heard about this Martha Stewart-themed housing development: rising dread and deep fear for what horrors we mortals have wrought, turning into a pleasant sense of optimism, only partially driven by cold medication.

Ms. Stewart is, of course, only the latest entity offering corporate identity as a surrogate for personal taste. You can already move into homes “inspired” by Thomas Kincade, in that paradise on Earth known as Vallejo, or forfeit your free will to the Disney Corporation in central Florida.

Now, I would rather live between a skunk ranch and a pit bull breeder* on a haunted Indian burial ground than in one of these places (after all, the restless spirits of the undead may fling knives around the room and make blood pour down the walls, but at least they’ll never sneer at you for letting your lawn dry up or try and tell you what color you can paint your upstairs windowsills), but that isn’t the point. The point is, there are people in the world who do want to live like that, and isn’t it nice that we can round them up and put them all in the same place? Just think: they can live out the rest of their days squabbling amongst themselves about what three styles of ye olde light fixtures are classy enough to be allowed on the exteriors of their oversized, cheaply built houses, secure in the knowledge that no one near them will ever do anything even slightly individual and/or distinctive (which, as you know, causes all housing values within a ten mile radius to plummet like penguins dropped out of a hot air balloon), and leave the rest of us alone. Instead of segregating by race or religion, we can segregate by taste! (Or lack thereof.) (Or willingness to have said taste decided for one by a former model with excellent marketing skills.) So I say, good! Build more of these! Let every person in America who is afraid that their inability to control every aspect of their environment will drag them down to the dregs of society move in, so that those of us who don’t can go ahead and paint our houses any damn way we please, and plant vegetable gardens in our front lawns, and convert our back yards into habitats for our seven pet gila lizards. The world would be a better place for it.

*Because the dogs would scare the skunks. Get it?

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