Here’s a bit of trivia that will help you win bar bets. When is the only time of year in which you can see women acting like idiots on television commercials? “Black Friday” sales announcements. The remainder of the year is given over to men to play clueless fools.
But for a spare week before this great national holiday, which now surpasses in festive spirit the day of feasting and family which used to be Thanksgiving, women are portrayed as rabid, raving lunatics whose only goal in life, whose very purpose for being, is to march bleary eyed to our cash cathedrals to buy what she is told to desire.
One advertisement featured a woman wrapped in alarm clocks manically humming a—I can’t bring myself to call it “Christmas”—tune, obsessively checking the time to be sure she woke in time to join the pre-dawn crush. Another showed a wild-eyed female throwing herself full force into the glass doors of a store which had the effrontery to remain closed. Her body flattened out and became sticker-like, a permanent addition to the panel, only her eyes remained animate. They were filled with terror that she was missing the sales. Other ads were worse.
When I was a boy, I recall Thanksgiving-day news reports showing churches setting up meals for those who couldn’t afford them, clips from troops stationed overseas saying, “Hi, mom!”, and so forth. Now, besides football and the weather, local news was given over entirely to ratcheting up “Black Friday” mania. The phrase “Stay tuned for some tips to make your ‘Black Friday a success’ was a commonly used. Success? Other reporters focused on hard hitting stories of “What items are hot this ‘Black Friday.'” You wouldn’t want to buy what others aren’t, would you?
Many stations ran features with the theme “Some facts you don’t know about ‘Black Friday’.” Like that people spend a lot of money in stores and on-line! Wow! Keen advice said that it was best to go early. And to lock up your purchases in your trunk so that you can simultaneously protect your treasures and unburden yourself, so that you can then easily re-burden yourself.
Early in the morning of the Big Day, reporters were dispatched to the cash cathedrals so that they could point at cars making their way into parking slots. “Look at all the people!” they said, marveling at the shoppers’ dedication. “There are a lot of cars here. As soon as one slot empties, another car fills it right away!”
Cameras shoved into the faces of consumers—for that is the proper word for these creatures—revealed a mixture of anxiousness, anticipation, and avarice. They opened their bags for the reporters like kids used to do when comparing trick-or-treat hauls. Smiles all around.
Somehow reporters forget to recall the story of the Long Island Walmart, where in 2008 consumers burst into the store and stampeded over a poor employee, killing him. As Jdimytai Damour lay gasping his last, consumers flowed around him, consuming everything in their path, convincing themselves as they spent that they were saving money.
Prediction: in a decade, the meaning and purpose of the day before Black Friday will have been forgotten. This day will remain a holiday, but seen only as a time to feed, to pack on the calories necessary for marathon sessions of shopping. It’s already close to that. Fox News tells us this has already become a “tradition as rich as turkey stuffing or pumpkin pie: Rise before the crack of dawn the morning after the holiday, wait for the mall to open, and start hunting down Black Friday bargains.”
“Don’t be cross, Briggs!” said the reader.
What else can I be when I live in such a world of fools as this? Black Friday! Out upon Black Friday! What’s Black Friday to you but a time for running up bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour wiser; a time for imbalancing your books, for charging every item and paying it off through a round dozen of months? If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with “Black Friday” on his lips should be busted over the head with his own “doorbuster” sale, and buried with a shopping bag wrapped around his neck. He should!
With apologies to Charles Dickens, this sad spectacle is enough to turn one into a socialist.