My beef with Kate Wagner
Once upon a time, back when Kate Wagner was likely in high school, there was a blog called "It's lovely! I'll take it!". It was a bored housewife in Seattle poring over Redfin and seeing a lot of white lawn chairs in inappropriate places. She attracted a following, they pored through their real estate listings and the funny ones got shared. It was popular enough to get sold to Cheezburger, who ran it into the ground, and the whole thing collapsed in 2013.
Unhappy Hipsters followed not long after, as did Stuff White People Like. The girls behind Unhappy Hipsters and the guy behind Stuff White People Like both got book deals out of it; I suspect the LovelyListing lady got a better deal selling to Cheezburger. Everything was over and done by 2013, three years before Kate started cribbing the snark with none of the love.
The parody sites that so clearly paved the way for McMansion Hell had no pretenses of knowledge. They were vaguely absurdist, occasionally witty and had their fair share of in-jokes. More than that, though, they weren't filled with a seething hatred of their subject matter. Sarah Lorimer clearly found it hilarious that someone would list a $2.6m house and stage it with white Walmart lawn chairs. Unhappy Hipsters wrote captions every bit as spare as the interiors - and they weren't making fun of the interiors, they were making fun of the entire idea behind the interiors (while also being knowledgeable enough about it to nail the satire). the last Stuff White People Like?
Though very specific to white people who were going through an awkward phase in 1995 (basically anyone between eleven and forty), My So-Called Life’s resonance cannot be overstated. Simply say the words Jordan Catalano. Say them to any white woman, gay white male, or superconfident-in-his-sexuality, irony-loving straight white male, and watch them swoon. You seriously do not even need an explanation about the show. Actually, if someone asks your name, you should say it’s Jordan Catalano and that you’ve never heard of the show. You will be the hit of the party, provided you let everyone in on the joke by the middle of the evening. Otherwise you will probably be known as a self-centered, dyslexic jerk.
There's an awareness to this humor. It requires some self-deprecation to be able to make a joke about something that you're clearly over-invested in. It's /r/me_irl, slightly more long-form. When you laugh at it, you are laughing at yourself. If you do not find it funny, you are not the butt of the joke.
Kate's not even funny. More than that, she's laughing at an out group, not an in-group. More than that, she's punching down at homeowners, most of whom did whatever weird-thing-that-they-did because it's what they wanted, not because it's what they were trying to sell to someone else. She even misappropriated the title: McMansions were created and marketed by developers and architects to sell high-margin product to homeowners, but her scorn is almost entirely reserved for the people living in it, not the people who built it.
And to justify this, she pulls shit out of her ass. It'd be one thing if she actually educated people; that crazy manic-depressive who runs The Last Psychiatrist does this. Ben Hunt does this. You may not agree with their takes, but they will list facts. Kate will say dumb shit like "paper design started in 1965" and then launch into a 1500-word essay as if it were true. She'll blame the Property Brothers for "farmhouse chic", which is kind of like blaming the blue sweater on Casual Corner.
And let me be perfectly clear: I don't think people need to care about this shit. I don't think it's important. I don't think the history of loft acoustics is relevant to anyone including Kate Wagner. But if you're going to convince people they should give a shit? Tell the fucking truth. And try to find some room in your heart to understand the stuff you're mocking; if nothing else, it makes the humor more relatable.