If memory serves, Thanksgiving used to feel a lot different. Dubious history aside, it was a holiday untainted by the commercialism seen in Christmas or Halloween. There weren’t any gaudy decorations or presents to be found. Just bland food, awkward family, bickering and that long-ass parade. And for better or worse, it’s wonderful. The parade is a spectacle, the bickering is hilarious, and no matter how much I disagree with some family members politically, I still love them. And the food? Anything tastes good if you pour 10 gallons of gravy on it. But the last couple of years, at least in my experience, things have been different. People leave early, usually towards the local Wal-Mart. And usually for one reason.
“I gotta be at Wal-Mart by 5:30! There’s a sale on 55 inch Emerson TVs. They may be knock offs, but $150 for a 55 inch? That’s a steal, by God”, says X member of the family. X knows this because of the bombardment of ads in the weeks before that fourth Thursday in November. It creeps up like a serial killer.
Black Friday, for the uninitiated, is the biggest shopping day of the year. Vendors across the country roll out insanely low prices on everything from appliances to TVs and Blu Rays. And people absolutely lose their minds.
We’ve all seen the footage. People lined up outside retailers hours before stores open, and all hell breaking loose when those doors finally crack open. The infamous coverage from the 1980’s covering a massive swath of shoppers being corralled into lines at registers, punching and shoving each other along the way. It’s eerie as all get out, and the worst part is what it was all being done over Cabbage Patch Kids, which are essentially baby dolls with misshapen heads.
People will whip themselves into a manic frenzy to save a little money, and Black Friday is the ultimate proof of this. “South Park” covered it best in their “Game of Thrones”-skewering Black Friday trilogy. The episodes veer around several perspectives, but most notably Randy Marsh in the role of a Jon Snow spoofing mall security guard in the days leading up to the unofficial holiday. Shoppers line up outside the store like zombies. When the day rolls around, there’s a massacre. This is all capped off with Cartman and the rest of the boys silently marching through the blood soaked mall in order to get X-Box Ones at a slight discount.
It’s hilarious until you realize that people really do get hurt or sometimes even killed during the event. People have been trampled to death in multiple incidents. And this year’s own day of sales was host to shootings in New Jersey and Alabama.
Black Friday is ugly and greedy. It is materialism at its peak and a cold reminder of late-stage capitalism tearing its claws through the country. And in the last couple of years, it hasn’t limited itself just to Friday, as sales often begin in the middle of the day on Thanksgiving.
So now Thanksgiving is seemingly on the verge of becoming day one of the weekend of low prices. This is a notion I find particularly upsetting; employees of massive retailers like Wal-Mart or GameStop having to go into work on this day, and it’s revolting that many will line up to support this practice. People are pulled away from their families, willingly or unwillingly, all in the name of rampant consumerism.
So in light of the violence and the unethical business practices, please stay home next year. Don’t go out on Friday. And for the love of God, don’t go out on Thanksgiving. Eat that bland food and argue with your family about Donald Trump. And if you’re really that dead set on saving money, there is that whole Cyber Monday thing. Just do that.