Is everyone excited about Black Friday? No? Neither are 82% of Americans.
Kai Ryssdall of NPR’s Marketplace made this discovery on yesterday’s show and it was hilarious. Kai was literally shocked — shocked! — to discover that “Black Friday” is a media-created myth utterly lacking any toehold on reality. Really! Here he interviews Frank Newport of Gallup and was told only 18% of people surveyed plan to do any “Black Friday” shopping.
Newport: Despite all of the media frenzy [...] on Friday significantly less than half of us wil be out there braving the crowds.
Ryssdal: I actually think that’s huge news, that we’re all going absolutely bonkers for 18% of the American public.
Yes, Kai. Better grab some gloves to handle this hot scoop. The media has created one of its cute little pet memes, reported on it incessantly, and then facts prove it to be utter bullshit. Let’s see, when has this ever happened in recent memory? Oh, how about Iraq has WMD and the Tea Party is a major grassroots thing and killer sharks roam American waters and white women mysteriously disappear from their homes and people actually liked Mitt Romney?
If only folks like Kai Ryssdal, one of the media’s consistently worst purveyors of the false narrative, were in a position to do something about this stuff.
In fact, one of my local news stations has already devoted an entire section of its web page to reporting on Black Friday “news.” But I understand this, I really do. Our merchant class is desperate for Black Friday to become a thing. They want this to become a national event like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, two other fake holidays they created out of thin air. Of course, I’m all for setting aside a day to honor your mother and father. Black Friday, on the other hand, is all about honoring greed, consumption, and some of humanity’s baser instincts, like shoving the little old lady in front of you out of the way to grab this season’s hot new toy. I’m not sure endless news stories of people getting trampled to death at Wal-mart are good for the brand, y’all. Maybe you ought to dial it back a notch.
I’m trying to think who buys the Black Friday bullshit. The only ones I know are the “nails ladies” at the Vietnamese sweatshop I visit for my pre-Thanksgiving manicure. Every year the nail tech asks if I’m going to go shopping on Friday; every year I tell her I’d rather stick pins in my eyes. Every year the person says, “Big savings! For Christmas!” Every year I have to tell her no, she’s been conned. The sales are no better on Black Friday than on Saturday, Sunday, or a week later. Those $25 flat screen TVs they advertise to get everyone through the door? Nobody gets those. Nobody. They aren’t real.
“Black Friday” is a narrative counterpunch to a day traditionally devoted to giving thanks for those things money can’t buy: family, friends, tradition, togetherness. These are things which have no price and can’t be turned into a commodity. Black Friday is its polar opposite, and to see it encroach on a holiday set aside for something pure offends me.
Thanks to supremely bad planning on my part, I’ve run out of dog food today. Breakfast this morning was scraping the last kibble from the bottom of the dog food bin. My quandary is that I buy my dog food at CostCo, it’s a store brand and it can’t be purchased anywhere else. But the absolute last place I want to be today is a big box retailer. And tomorrow is “small business Saturday,” another fake holiday the merchant class has created to pacify the mom-and-pop businesses Wal-Mart and Best Buy have crushed under their massive boot heels.
And this is what I hate about our consumer culture. When our best vote is the one we make with our wallets, then every action is a statement. I’d like to buy some damn dog food today, but now it appears doing so violates every principle I hold dear. It lumps me in with the 18% who want to stand in line in the pouring rain instead of enjoying breakfast with their families. It tells the merchant class that I support this stupid phony baloney crap they’ve shoved down our throats.
Le Sigh. Probably I will find a locally owned pet shop and buy a small bag of food, enough to last a couple days. It shouldn’t make any difference whether I buy my dog food today or Monday, it really shouldn’t. But thanks to the media magnifying glass placed on retailers today, it does. I really hate that for all of the many reasons I’ve outlined here.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled Friday programming. Hope y’all had a happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Time for some good news:
• Alaska tribes go tobacco-free.
• School buses in Southern California are getting cleaner and greener.
• Otters make a comeback in Illinois.
• Are bombs raining down on your Israeli neighborhood? Yeah, there’s an app for that.
• Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has donated €1.5 million to Palestinian children in Gaza.
• The UN reports that the rate of new HIV/AIDs infections has fallen by half in 25 countries. More than half of them are in Africa, the continent most affected by HIV/AIDs.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• An injured Afghanistan veteran gets a new home custom-tailored to his needs.
• The TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation, Dept. of Transportation and the Tourist Development Dept. are joining forces to start recycling at all of the state’s welcome centers. Let me say, I’m kind of shocked they don’t recycle already, and I’m not sure why it takes three state agencies to do this. I’m going to guess (hope) that the program goes beyond the “throw your empty Coke can in this blue container” stuff.
This week’s cool video is personal. I’m an environmental science grad from Pitzer College, class of ’83. This week my alma mater announced it has joined forces with Robert Redford and the Pritzkers (of Hyatt Hotels fame and fortune) to launch the Robert Redford Conservancy For Southern California Sustainability. Learn more about it here: