LIMB FROM LIMB

Posted in Quick Hits on December 2nd, 2013 by Ed

People who don't get a kick out of Black Friday shopping – and personally I find the idea about as appealing as Ann Coulter's used panties – certainly seem to get a kick out of mocking Black Friday shopping. I used to be one of them. As I've mellowed out with age I see it more subjectively. Maybe some people who enjoy wading into crowds of holiday shoppers at the mall think I am nuts for enjoying attending a hockey game. I don't get it, but people like different things. Hell, some people like the bagpipes, and that's the worst thing humans have ever made.

One of the new rituals for anti-Black Friday fans is posting videos of people fighting over merchandise or while waiting in line for Black Friday sales. Here's a gallery of them. This is my favorite:

I've seen a lot of complaints about the classism inherent in mocking people who are fighting over discount Wal-Mart merchandise, which would make more sense to me if these people were poor in any meaningful sense of the term. It's facile to fall back on arguments like "Even the poorest American is wealthy compared to a starving African refugee", but in this case that isn't even necessary. Bargain hunters? Sure. Overspenders? Maybe. But no one who's out to blow hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on disposable crap – toys, electronics, gadgets – for Christmas gifts is poor.

The disturbing part is that this video of comparatively well-off Americans looks eerily similar to those clips of filthy disaster victims, famine-stricken children, or war refugees. Just replace the bag of UNICEF rice with some virtually useless tablet computer and make the surroundings cleaner and more sterile. That's ultimately what bothers me when I see these videos or the endless stories about fights, injuries, or even worse breaking out on Black Friday. I can't put my finger exactly on the logic leading me to this statement, but I always think: This is what They want. They want us tearing one another to pieces over a fucking stuffed toy or a handheld electronic device that will make the journey from Chinese sweatshop to leaking heavy metals in a landfill in less than two years. "They" are looking at these videos and smiling, possibly drumming their fingers and letting out a Burns-like "Excellent…"

Sure, this is a small sample of people. We're not all like this. It's nonetheless disturbing how many people seem to be ready to resort to rudeness at best and violence at worst to defeat their fellow Americans in the quest to buy shit. A rational person might look at the last remaining PS4 and think, "Crap. Well, I can always go home and order it on Amazon." Instead, we deem it socially acceptable to fight over it like we're dying of cancer and it's the last batch of chemo drugs.

It's in someone's interest to encourage and condone that mentality in this country. That's what I think about every year after Thanksgiving.