Each year in America , the nightmarish post-apocalyptic visions of Cormac McCarthy attain the status of prophecy rather than fiction; all crime appears to be legal for a twenty four period.
Limbs flail as desperate creatures, shorn of the dignity we usually associate with the human spirit, grasp at the supplies they urgently believe are need to survive. Avarice, and barbaric individualism, reign – whatever civility we had sworn separated our kind from the animal kingdom is ominously lacking.
This, sadly, is not a description of the latest instalment in James DeMonaco’s The Purge franchise - rather, it is a slightly hyperbolic description of the biggest shopping date in the States’ annual calendar.
For those not in the know, Black Friday, a name once informally issued in dread but now a recognised and branded marketing phenomena, takes place after the most patriotic date of the year – Thanksgiving. What could be more appropriate than celebrating independence from colonial oppressors than issuing mass discounts on retailed goods?
Even in an age where eCommerce has become rife, what makes Black Friday truly unique is the gargantuan amount of shoppers who line up outside storefronts, queues snaking into the distance, ready to barge their way inside when the doors finally open. Sadly, it has been demonstrated year-upon-year that consideration for human life is much less a concern than getting one’s hands on a bargain in these conditions.
A prime example of the vulgarity of Black Friday occurred in a Target store in West Virgina , 2011.
A 61 year old man, Walter Vance, collapsed amongst the hordes of people around him. Shoppers continued to claw at the goods which lined the outlet’s shelves whilst the inconsiderate Vance obstructed their pathway by dying on the floor, his sad attempts to cling to life ignored by the maddening crowds. They were, after all, distracted by the incredible discounts on display – with such great offers on tablets, phones and DVDs, how could they afford to take a moment out to check on this hulking carcass? Instead, inevitably, the shoppers reportedly stepped over him. Why let compassion or empathy get in the way of a great day out?
Such macabre incidents are, unfortunately, not particularly rare. Indeed, the ghastly regularity of such occurrences has seen the creation of a specialist website, Black Friday Death Count, which ghoulishly tallies those killed or injured during shopping stampedes each year.
Children and pregnant women, we learn, are often crushed under foot. Adults, awake since the early hours so as to be first in line, fall asleep at the wheel and wipe out entire families. Arguments at Toys ‘R’ Us checkouts lead to gun fights and double homicides. Pepper spray is used to secure the best purchases. Any pretences of living in a polite, civilised society fall by the way-side as soon as electronic goods fall in price.
Happy shopping one and all!
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