They’re invading, are you ready?
There’s no doubt that here in the United States, the heavily commercialized “holiday season” has gotten out of control. For many families, Thanksgiving was set aside as a time to drop the consumerism and just spend time together. But last year, our bloated capitalistic parody of the December holiday season had proved its power. With sales expanding further than before, it toppled a great defense against a frenzy of spontaneous spending and so-called savings. With this bastion against greed and habitual desires crumbled, what is there to do?
So first off, you’re probably wondering about that really weird prose up above. Needless to say, I’m getting fed up with how the “holiday season” has been pushed more and more aggressively over time. The Doctor Who episode I’m directly referencing could in fact be a sly parody of this issue. Sure, it’s been pretty bad for a while. But the last couple years may have showcased a disturbing trend. A couple of years ago, companies tried starting their Black Friday sales even earlier than ever. Usually they started somewhere between 3 – 5 in the morning. The gimmick convinced countless folks to work off that turkey dinner by going on an early morning shopping spree. In a sense, it’s easy for most regular people to ignore. But then, businesses tried an experiment. Now, stores would open midnight (similar to midnight releases at stores like GameStop.) Needless to say, it worked. For folks like me who sometimes dealt with a long late night trip hope, you can understand why such a thing could be a hassle. Now folks are skipping desert and camping outside the mall in frigid temperatures, just to get that special television set. Lo and behold, the experiment was a success. Black Friday wasn’t as necessary as there was proof the holiday shopping rush could easily be pushed back earlier.
Fast forward to now and we have “Pre Thanksgiving week daily deals” that mirror the chaos of Black Friday. To mirror how out of hand this is getting, there was one disturbing commercial that was buzzing around airways last year. In this commercial, a family gets ready for a Thanksgiving feast… until news of A BIG SALE interrupts their dinner, so the greedy fucks leap into action and into the car, leaving the grandparents behind in fatigue-ridden confusion. For a piece of unintentional commentary, that’s pretty bleak. This basically tells us that our materialistic ways are more important than any “olden ideals” and “sentimental values” of family bonding and getting away from the chaos of everyday life. But hey, we live in the constantly active information age, after all. That isn’t to say I’m against businesses meeting the mark (so they don’t have to fire countless droves of workers who need those jobs), there can be much good for stuff like “Black Friday” if it’s kept in check. Clearly the belly of our glorious market monster must be stuffed, but is this monster mutating into an eldritch abomination beyond our comprehension?
We might be in for a bleak future but, let’s think about the here and now. We basically give all sorts of companies the OK to think for us. While it’s not too unlike how we’ve allowed the government to think for us, you’d think escaping corporate mind control might be a little easier. (At least megacorporations haven’t merged with our police state yet.) But, what does this mean for Thanksgiving, let alone the rest of November? If the seemingly unstoppable holiday beast can march its way past an evening of Turkey Dinner, where does it go next? Does it just usurp the entire month for its own endless rampage? To be fair, after Small store Saturday, we got an extended weekend of Black Friday and event a digital version for Monday (called “Cyber Monday”); one has to consider a darker truth.
As I said before, the previously mentioned commercial gives me images of a dystopian future not too out of place with what William Gibson, Phillip K Dick, and several other sci-fi essentials have warned us about. This is the future where the slightest impulse purchase is met with absolute psychological collapse if it isn’t granted immediately, where we’re pacified by the slightest pointless distraction, and where indulgence is the only method to happiness; where high tech toys distract us from low quality life. Sounds a lot like Brave New World taken 20 Minutes into the 21st Century Cyberpunk Future, in a sense.
If there isn’t any restraint to curb our desire for things and to see through the illusion of savings, there will be no stopping this holiday beast. Other holidays will become as over-commercialized as the Christmas season has. Sales will probably expand beyond Christmas (i.e. December 26th Midnight deals) and even reach into the new year. Whose to say that the need to push sales won’t just engulf all of autumn and even the winter as well? And, what’s to stop our culture from being reprogrammed into accepting of a Black Friday every Friday? It’d be assumed you and your friends zombie shuffle on down and the rest of the extras from Dawn of the Dead can shamble over to that 1 Dollar Mattress sale. Sure, that’s a pretty far-fetched dystopian image, but all dystopian stories are often taken to the extreme to explore terrifying possibilities.
But something still doesn’t add up about all of this. This makes me wonder if Black Friday is a dystopian story or something worse… a cosmic horror story. It has all the elements; a cruel and unforgiving eldritch entity using us for its own alien agendas, our descent into the depths of madness as we discover more of its dread power, and a sense of hopelessness as we can do nothing to stop it. Friends, the Black Friday beast is an all powerful foe. Try as we may, we’ll all crack open this formless horror’s necronomicon and gaze upon its dread contents. The real question is when we shall fall to its insidious methods and dark motivations. If it didn’t exist, our Thanksgiving would be at peace and perhaps our lives as well. But, the bleak realization is here, madness will rule amidst non-euclidean spires dedicated to an unfathomable being shall rise. If money is god, then Black Friday is Great Old One. And in the end, we’re all at the mercy of a thing that should not be.