There hasn’t been a good rant on this site for a while now, but yesterday something caught my eye that just made me soooo mad I had to vent (and it was writing about this or bleaching the shower grouting).
Whilst trying to read the news online, one of those moveable pop-ups kept pestering me around the touch screen. ‘SOMEHING’ it flashed, ‘UNBELIEVABLE. IS HAPPENING. TOMORROW. TOMORROW. TOMORROW.’ Something annoying was happening right now though, and as the advertisers obviously had a huge deal with the online edition of this newspaper, it wasn’t about to subside anytime soon. ‘BLACK FRIDAY. BLACK FRIDAY. THIS FRIDAY. AT …’ (insert name of gigantic American owned superstore here. Other superstores are inevitably available).
‘Crap,’ I groaned. Black Friday has made it over here. For those of you unfamiliar with this ‘tradition’, let me enlighten you. The day after Thanksgiving in America (which always falls on the last Thursday in November) has been christened BLACK FRIDAY. Taking advantage of the good mood caused by the nationwide turkey roast and effects of umami the previous day, shops open up from midnight onward promising huge discounts on stock. Consumers turn up in droves, frequently in their PJs to dash around the stores and fight over this and that essential (ie: not really) item. It’s like the first day of the January sales on speed. Needless to say, the spirit of Thanksgiving is thrown out of the window so that shoppers can get ever closer to human sacrifice on the altar of mindless consumerism.
Maybe you think that last remark was a tad over the top. Sadly not. The first time I was in the US for Thanksgiving, I had a lovely time going to see the Detroit Lions lose (yep, they were giving away home tickets that season), meeting my in-laws for the first time, cheering my boyfriend on at the Turkey Trot 5K (from the warmth of his apartment) and generally learning what a delightful seasonal event this is. The day afterwards, I elected to stay home and steadily some alarming news reports came in. A security guard with a leg broken in a department store stampede, children sent to the Emergency Room, and most tragic of all, a pregnant woman crushed causing a miscarriage and an employee stamped on and killed at a Black Friday event in a Walmart sore.
This alone should raise alarms about the necessity of Black Friday crossing the pond, but also there is no logic behind this very American day in our admittedly crappy consumer culture. Black Friday heralds the beginning of the Christmas season in America, trees can now be put up, lights can be strung across the neighbourhoods, department store Santas can start freaking out little kids. But not over here. We don’t have Thanksgiving. Mostly because we have the good old Sunday Roast/ Friday Night Dinner every week. Black Friday in the UK is using multiculturalism in the most cynical way possible. We have never had this so-called tradition is the UK; there is no ethnic, cultural or religious demand for it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it features in an upcoming episode of Mr Selfridge. I bet the discounts won’t even be any good (are they ever?). The best thing to do is boycott it and send the multinational conglomerates a clear message before they start making it an essential British seasonal ‘tradition’.