Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Images of Black Friday

This past Friday, in a moment of masochism, I went to the local Wal-Mart to bear witness to the horrors of Black Friday. I arrived at midnight. For some reason, there was a long 15-minute line I had to wait in--perhaps to manage just how many people could be in the store at one time.

Consumer with two TVs #1.

These people were lined up in the frozen section--not for food--but for some hot electronic item du jour. Wal-Mart management was cleverly finding ways to reduce traffic in heavily browsed areas of the store.

Consumer with two TVs #2


Consumer with two TVs #3

After that, I walked over to the Factory Outlet Mall. Shoe stores, food courts, clothes stores..

The mall crowd was much younger than the Wal-Mart crowd. Except for some minor fashion alterations, the girls looked just like the girls from my high school days, and same with the guys. Super-tight jeans, stupid looking boots, and the guys with square, athletic jaws with slightly sinister yet kinda happy-go-lucky smiles.

It was, needless to say, incredibly depressing. And while I do think there's reason to be optimistic about the Occupation Movement, I can't help but think that it's going to come to nothing when I see something like this... When you have 50 people here occupying some city plaza and 200 students demonstrating on their college campus, it's easy to believe there there is some ongoing "mass movement." But the truth is, a block away--on Wall Street in NYC or Harvard Square in Boston--people are walking around and shopping like they've always done. The country's youth are not "uprising"; most of them are walking around malls, deluded into buying mostly useless crap. 

A fifteen year old male wearing his hat to his side was inspecting jewelry for his girlfriend. A trio of young girls--who all looked the same: skinny, long brown hair, stupid boots, super tight jeans--had draped new, still-expensive clothes over their arms like slabs of meat. Outside, I had to step off the sidewalk to make room for a lady carrying three absurdly large pillow-sized bags.

The horror... The horror...

Here's an old entry I did on Black Friday.


Martin said...

You're a brave man.

Tesaje said...

I hate black friday and stay as far away from it as possible. But I did have to go out to get plumbing supplies for a broken faucet. Not so bad at the home stores. I just scored a nice new camera and the best price was on the Monday before - online of course. People are easily swayed by promises and most don't bother to think whether they are being scammed.

I thought occupy wall street was about the much bigger scams that tanked the economy and the policies that are destroying the middle classes.

slowth said...

It's a rare gift to view society as an outsider. To step outside the mainstream and remark on its preposterous nature is a blessing indeed.

We don't feel superior to the teeming masses. No, quite the opposite. We pity those who are so unfortunate as to not know there is an alternative.

Thanks for your words and pictures.

Ken said...

Martin—ha, thanks

Tesaje—You’re right, OWS is focused on bigger things. My connection of OWS and Black Friday is still there, though. While it may seem like the country’s young people are “uprising” at occupations and such, the truth is that the great, great majority of them are participating in consumerist extravaganzas like Black Friday. Hence my disillusionment.

Slowth—Very nice words. Thanks.

luke said...

Is your ending, "the horror...the horror..." referencing Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now? Very appropriate. This is definitely a descent into mass insanity...

Anonymous said...


I share many of your views about the consumer society we live in and the waste it generates. What should be done to change the culture? Who should drive that change?


Anonymous said...

I share many of your views about the consumer society we live in and the waste it generates. What should be done to change the culture? Who should drive that change?

cut off the credit card.