If you open, they will come.
This must be the new mantra of malls and department stores all over the country. While so-called “Black Friday” has been going on for years, never has there been so much hype and hoopla, before, during, and, we can safely assume, after the event. For the last three days shopping has dominated the news on TV, and on radio as well. Even Public Radio devoted more than half of every hour to shopping–or, as we used to call it, conspicuous consumption. It got so bad I was forced to flee my beloved NPR in favor of the only station I could count on not to be swept up in material madness–the good ol’ left-wing KPFA.
“Will they come?” was the breathless query Monday.
“They are coming!” was the elated cry this morning; and
“They came!” will no doubt be tomorrow’s triumphant report.
One of my favorite bits of wisdom is Art both creates and reflects culture. Substitute media for art in this case: the news programs got on board early and often so as to shore up our sinking economy with an outsized Christmas blitz. They seem to have succeeded. Some stores even opened on Thanksgiving, and you can be sure more of them will do so next year, and the year after, and so on ad infinitum.
The other day I paused in my channel surfing to catch Oprah displaying My Favorite Things, handing one of each out to every person in the audience. In typical Oprah fashion she screeched out each blessed item with the fervor and conviction of an evangelist, while the (mostly) women in the audience literally screamed, swooned, and salivated over the bounty. It was the most vulgar display I’ve ever seen in my life, bar none. People don’t even care what they’re getting, as long as they get lots of STUFF–I mean, they went apeshit over a jar of face cream!
According to the exhaustive news reporting, three-quarters of these shoppers are supporting today’s binge with plastic. Hello? Hasn’t anyone learned the lessons of this economy, the “new normal?” I thought everyone was pissed off at the credit card companies?
People! Get a grip! Isn’t it bad enough we’re no longer called citizens, or even people, but consumers? Aren’t you sick and tired of corporate America’s business-as-usual? Do you really need all this STUFF?
I know, I sound like Scrooge, but I just had to vent. Thank you for your time. We now interrupt this rant to return to reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith–which is about the furthest I can get from this year’s version of our national illness.
- Video: Oprah’s audience freaks out (thestar.com)
- Make Black Friday into a Creative Joyous Day (tinychoices.com)