Black Friday is upon us. It is a week now before everything goes tribal from the East to West Coasts of the greatest country this earth has ever seen. It’s an event like no other in human history where people receive an invisible licence to be selfish and rude assholes; a licence to stampede over that poor 70 year-old Wal-Mart greeter and send him/her into the hospital, and possibly a final retirement.
The Seinfeld’s had an alternative holiday (Festivus) to the vapid consumerist take-over of a public holiday once celebrated and prided on giving thanks to good family, good food, good friends, and also to the coming of a religious bearded saviour – Christmas. If it hasn’t been claimed before, I will claim it here on this website: Black Friday in every way, shape, and form is like the Anti-Festivus of the American Thanks-Giving Holiday.
Black Friday is a dark time in human living. It is a time when the mask of society comes off, and we are privileged enough to see our culture in its rawest form. Most of you are probably thinking by now that I hate this time of year with every inch of my soul. However, it’s the exact opposite; I love Black Friday to death. I worship the day like a deity because it’s a sociologist’s gold-mine of human consumerist salivations. Watching people line up for hours (even days) for a $5 toaster is not only hilarious to me, it is also priceless insight into how perverted we have all become in our empty quests for nothing. People have actually been killed and seriously injured to the point of needing life-support on this finest of days, all because hundreds of people decided it would be the best course of action to stampede into Target like a herd of elephants for a plasma TV marked $500 down from $2000.
George Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead (and the 2004 remake) and the mobs of consumers lining up outside stores in the wee hours of the morning for the “must-have” Black Friday sales is as good as it gets when relating fiction to reality. As we all know, fiction is based off of reality and often time’s truth can be even stranger than fiction. The truth here is that the people who participate in the salivating stampedes, the long lines and the violence that takes place (believe it or not shit goes down in most stores) are no different to the zombies that we all laugh at and mock in T.V shows like The Walking Dead or films such as Dawn of the Dead (any zombie film).
Even though I am a stones throw away from the American border, I don’t participate in the “shopping” (tribal chaos). I have things delivered to me, that’s why we have the internet and our “just in time” deliver system. There is now choice, I choose to have things brought to me rather than trying to find exactly what I want in a giant store; plus I keep truckers, cargo pilots and Fed Ex employees employed, so they can feed their families and buy their Xbox’s.
Both the zombies in Dawn of the Dead and the sheeple out during Black Friday are potentially life-threatening, single-minded herds who shamble around with glassy-eyed stares (this is due to un-death for the zombies and probably lack of sleep for the shopping masses), pressing their faces against glass doors and traveling around hands forward clamoring for sustenance (brains) and/or those sweet, sweet deals.
It’s odd that a day that has businesses pulling out all the stops to attract customers and consumers braving shitty weather, enormous lines, and early hours to get some holiday deals has the so commonly and un-ironically accepted name of Black Friday (the disambiguation page on Wikipedia for Black Friday is nothing but large-scale massacres and natural disasters), but perhaps it’s a little telling that no one is really ignoring the zombie-like connotations that the massive shopping day intrinsically represents. Dawn of the Dead‘s shopping mall is essentially a visual allegory for the excesses and waste of our consumer-driven popular culture. It’s not at all difficult to see the shambling hordes of un-dead as a metaphor for salivating shoppers wandering through the halls of the shrine of capitalism.
The movie’s assertion that the zombies have returned to the mall simply out of muscle memory or a faint recollection that this place was at one time important to them offers a not at all subtly sad comment on the lives of the walking dead were like before they became un-dead. Romero makes visual matches between zombies and department store mannequins, further underscoring the idea that these people in life just gears grinding in the economic machine. Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff. Below is an outline and description of the glorious day to which is upon us along with a “how to” guide to be a successful Black Friday participant. Let the games begin.
BLACK FRIDAY OUTLINE & GUIDE
Traditional practices: The day of Black Friday is a strenuous one and preparation starts days & even nights before the first doors of any Capitalist temple opens. Preparation for the average BF shopper usually consists of gassing up the family vehicle the night before, packing camping gear to use in the parking lots, and praying to the Capitalist God’s for the bountiful shopping experience and that they arrive home alive. The day that the shopping commences includes practices and traditions such as “the running of the Sheeple”, which occurs the moment any store opens its doors and the first customer service employee falls victim to the initial riot of consumers (its usually a pimpled faced college grad who gets the honours of opening said doors). After the initial stampede one individual (non-selected) performs the “Feats of Stupidity”. This involves (usually one) individual violating a “limited purchase of 1” by shoving multiples of that item into their cart. This of course then sets off a chain reaction of irate shoppers-first denouncing this breaker of the holiest of shopping laws- then proceeding to do the same in horde like fashion, destroying beautiful displays of merchandise (merchandise that was probably carefully stacked by that poor college grad who is now in a hospital from the aforementioned stampede.
Titan of Toasters: To receive this award as a practicing Black Friday’er one must be first to the pile of $5 toasters, take more than needed (You theoretically need only one) and steal at least one toaster from a fellow shopper’s cart without them noticing.
Plasma Plunderer: To achieve this advanced title one must purchase as many plasma T.V’s as possible from the store and then re-sell them for profit after all the Black Friday sales are over. Any profit is good profit. Best way to do this is to buy out the store’s inventory then re-sell them to all your fellow consumers outside of said store ( supply and demand baby!).
Tip: Bring/drive a large pick-up truck and or rent a U-haul to serve as your rolling Plasma store (entrepreneurial spirit at its finest).
Honour Thy Neighbour: Form a roving gang with fellow shoppers or friends to lord over a prized section of the store (usually the technology section) to prevent others from taking what you are entitled too.
Blood of Another: If by the end of the day you walk out of the store with Blood of any kind(spot or splash) from a fellow shopper or bystander(not your own blood) you have won this highest of achievements.
*If you fail to complete or gain any of the above achievements then you have failed in your duty and honour as a Black Friday participant. No worries though, there is always next year.
In closing, to celebrate this finest and classiest of “Holidays” I won’t be venturing over the border to participate in herd-like mentality (possibly even manslaughter if the stampede and Sales are great enough) oh no, I will be celebrating by watching a classic cult film that epitomizes such a celebration.
Whereas we all watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation on Christmas day, I will watch Dawn of the Dead during Black Friday (On repeat).
**Feel free to comment/tell me about your own achievements that you have come up with.