A Black Day Indeed: To Be Thankful For Shopping (Updated)

It is something of a tradition at this blog to commemorate the annual plunge into the depths of mindless materialism and conspicuous consumerism which we call “Black Friday.”

It is also that wonderful time of year when we achieve complete gender balance, a state of ecstasy long anticipated and devoutly wished for. Finally, thankfully, blessedly women are portrayed in television commercials as idiotic, cowed, brutally stupid, dunderheaded, vapid, and clueless as men are through the other fifty-one weeks of the year.

Here is one example of many television commercials (apologies for the poor quality):

It shows a woman scratching off days on a calendar as a child does anticipating Christmas. In preparation for the load she will score on the Big Day, she manically exercises by lifting a shopping basket. Throughout, her eyes are wild; the insanity is obvious. When finally the glorious morning arrives—at 4 am—she bursts into the store under the restraint of a drag chute, the only thing keeping her from running amok. (This video appears to be a spoof of the same, but it’s difficult to see how.)

It’s not clear if this ad is real or a spoof. It shows a series of horrifying women shooting, in slow motion of course, at an unseen target. The only message is that you will need a gun to protect your kids, who will turn into zombies somehow. The title of the video contains the phrases “Black Friday 2011 Deals” and “Cyber Monday.”

Incidentally, the store which created the first ad announced it will open its doors not as late as 4 am, but at midnight. Other establishments, keen not to be left behind, have said they will follow suit, and still others have hinted that they will open on Thanksgiving day itself.

The only good news is that there has been a minor “backlash” against this behavior. Meaning that a few news stories will appear, naming Jane Does who will give the required quote, “I wish stores wouldn’t do this.” But the stores will do just as they will.

The importance of Black Friday cannot and won’t be underestimated. It is news. It generates breathless copy; it is guaranteed to be a story on every channel, especially on the Big Day itself, when we will have live-on-the-spot reports of the amounts taken in, overlaid with visuals of credit cards being swiped and cash drawers opened.

The Washington Post was so giddy about its coverage that it blared, “74 million shoppers plan to hit stores next weekend.” Further good news: this is “up from 27 percent last year.”

Lest the full force and vigor of this national holiday escape you, there is a crucial sidebar to the Post’s main story: “Top 10 tips for Black Friday shopping virgins.” Could there be such creatures?

Tip number five: “Take along healthy snacks and water to keep your energy up, wear comfortable shoes.” This is a holiday, as tip number nine reminds us to have fun: “Go with friends and make it a social event. Shop, eat, see a movie. Even camping out at midnight can be fun.” We can only pray that with all this frivolity there will be none of the usual deadly stampedes. But what’s a few bodies here and there when you can save “up to” 20% on some can’t-live-without plastic trinket?

I have told the story before, but I remember as a boy sitting in the back seat of our station wagon driving around suburban Detroit trying to find a gas station, any gas station, that was open, the needle of the car resting on E and us with a long way to go. But the pump jockeys were all at home were their families. All gas stations, as far as I can tell, and soon all stores, will now be open on Thanksgiving. For this we are truly Thankful. Now we can shop every day of the year.

Black Friday is the day that Americans justly earn the bleak and soulless label consumers. A day of hoped for and celebrated rapaciousness, of voracious venality.

It’s not just America. Lord Sacks, a prominent Rabbi in Great Britain, said recently that “advertising only made shoppers aware of what they did not have – rather than feeling grateful for what they did.” He said a consumer culture “makes you aware all the time of the things you don’t have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have.”

Somewhat naively—his simplicity is amusing to us moderns—he also said, “Faith and spending time with family, he said, were the only way to true happiness.”

Update From Drudge: Woman pepper sprays other Black Friday shoppers; Atrocious behavior Over $2 waffle makers lol ; there are more but it’s too depressing.

Update From HotAir: Selection bias? Man dies, ignored by shoppers.


  1. Andy

    The original “full-auto Moms” video is from a year-old PSA:

  2. Ken

    Seems to me that there’d be strong temptation for collusion among stores/chains to set out a lot of “marked down” tags that only mark things down a few inconsequential cents…and thus take advantage of what amounts to “auction fever” among the shoppers. Its happened before…

    I wonder if one set up on a well-trafficed sidewalk a sign with something meaningless like, “contributions for a cause” and included a bucket with an obvious slot for inserting money how much loot could be collected for asserting nothing in particular…

  3. Hasdrubal

    This year (and maybe last year, too) stores started their Black Friday sales the weekend before. If it were just about the savings, I would expect that doing that should significantly cut down on the rush after Thanksgiving.

    Because that rush is still expected to be huge, I can’t help but think that a large part of the Black Friday deal is the pageantry of the whole thing, people really seem to enjoy fighting the crowds to get that big ticket item before it’s sold out. Maybe it’t the pent up competitiveness of soccer moms with non-athletic kids?

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see stores opening on Thanksgiving, especially with the de-emphasis of the holiday in favor of Christmas, (how many stores have you seen completely skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas this year?) but I still expect to see Black Friday continue as a big deal.

  4. Doug M

    How do the Brits know when it is time to begin their holliday shopping?

  5. dearieme

    “a prominent Rabbi in Great Britain”: he’s Chief Rabbi – it’s an actual post.

  6. Gary

    Black Friday by Steely Dan

    When Black Friday comes
    I’ll stand down by the door
    And catch the grey men when they
    Dive from the fourteenth floor
    When Black Friday comes
    I’ll collect everything I’m owed
    And before my friends find out
    I’ll be on the road
    When Black Friday falls you know it’s got to be
    Don’t let it fall on me
    When Black Friday comes
    I’ll fly down to Muswellbrook
    Gonna strike all the big red words
    From my little black book
    Gonna do just what I please
    Gonna wear no socks and shoes
    With nothing to do but feed
    All the kangaroos
    When Black Friday comes I’ll be on that hill
    You know I will

    When Black Friday comes
    I’m gonna dig myself a hole
    Gonna lay down in it ’til
    I satisfy my soul
    Gonna let the world pass by me
    The Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me
    And if he don’t come across
    I’m gonna let it roll
    When Black Friday comes
    I’m gonna stake my claim
    I’ll guess I’ll change my name


  7. DAV


    The song is about a different Black Friday.

  8. I was going to go observe the carnage, but the tryptophans got me. Can barely keep my eyes open to type this, let alone get out of the chair and go somewhere.

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