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McMansion Hell draws the wrath of Zillow after dunking on its houses
Photo via Paul Sableman/Flickr (CC-BY)
McMansion Hell is in McMansion hell right now.
McMansions, we can all agree, are kind of dumpy. They are cookie-cutter signifiers of a certain quasi-attainable class, notable for their resemblance to something someone wealthy might buy, only immediately undercut by the fact that 700,000 also exist in your same suburban neighborhood, thus defeating an attempt you were making at ostentatiously displaying your unique status.
Luckily, for all of us who know what a waste they are, there is the blog site McMansion Hell, which points out the absurdity in America’s love of McMansions.
Here’s a sample of the humor, via Paper Mag:
Unfortunately, you can’t view McMansion Hell right now. The site has gone temporarily offline after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from online real estate giant Zillow.
Kate Wagner, the proprietor of McMansion Hell, posted the notice she received from Zillow Monday night to her Twitter account. In the letter, the company objects to her violating the copyright of the photos on their site. On McMansion Hell, Wagner would take their photos, add captions, and then host them on her site. Zillow said this violated the law.
Somebody help me, Zillow is threatening to sue me pic.twitter.com/mEiQ7ddiqS— bad house tweeter (@mcmansionhell) June 26, 2017
She pleaded with the web for any sort of help.
this blog is my entire livelihood, if it goes, I lose absolutely everything. https://t.co/Px1cUbULVo— bad house tweeter (@mcmansionhell) June 26, 2017
I have until June 29th to do something. Anyone who could help me out, please, please, DM me. https://t.co/Gs5ZuUsDr7— bad house tweeter (@mcmansionhell) June 26, 2017
Zillow perhaps became aware of the site after the Washington Post ran an article on the scourge of McMansions, saying that the “ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom is back,” before quoting Wagner.
Kate Wagner, an architecture critic, wishes America would have learned its lesson about McMansions the first time around. She spends her free time tearing apart their architectural anachronisms on her blog, McMansion Hell.
Wagner describes McMansions as a particular artifact of economic history, one whose physical form was the product of a new American pastime: flipping houses.
“They were built to sell in the year they were selling, not for future generations,” said Wagner. “These houses are kind of disfigured, because they were built from the inside out, to have the most amenities to sell faster.”
Thankfully, after news of Zillow’s cease-and-desist letter went around, Wagner was able to get legal advice. The site is currently offline as Wagner debates her options, but she expects it to be back up by the end of this week.
tfw you get council & counsel wrong on the internet— bad house tweeter (@mcmansionhell) June 27, 2017
To clear up confusion, I'll be back with a post on Saturday. Nothing is gone.
also thank you to all the lawyers, realtors, educators, architects, writers, public figures, and journalists who reached out to me today.— bad house tweeter (@mcmansionhell) June 27, 2017
Zillow, for its part, said to the Verge they have nothing against the blogger. “We are asking this blogger to take down the photos that are protected by copyright rules, but we did not demand she shut down her blog and hope she can find a way to continue her work.”
Ironically, Zillow has had its own issues with copyrights. In February, they lost a case against photo company VHT over using copyrighted photos on their site. Originally ordered to pay $8 million in damages, that number has since been cut in half.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]