Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Insanity - Video Evidence of the Decline of the United States?

Thanksgiving has come and gone - I hope you had a happy one, as I did.

Unfortunately, Black Friday also came and went, leaving a path of madness and destruction in its wake. It seems to me that the insanity demonstrated by U.S. consumers on Black Friday only gets worse each year - what is going on here? I'm reminded of the gladiators who fought each other in the Colosseum for the amusement of the rich and poor alike as the Roman Empire crumbled. Is something similar happening to America?

Let's review the video evidence from this past weekend.

First, there was a near riot over $2 waffle makers:

Come on, people, I know some of you take your waffles seriously, but is the prospect of a $2 waffle iron really worth rioting over?

Then there was the grandpa roughed up by cops because he was trying to keep his grandson from getting trampled:

Yes, yes, figures of authority - let's beat people up first and ask questions later.

And there was this amazing scene from an Urban Outfitters in California:

OMG indeed, Mr. Whoever's Recording This Video.

And this near-mob at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina:

So much shrieking, violence, and ... laughing? I feel seriously sorry for the poor employees.

Or perhaps Victoria's Secret in Modesto, CA is more to your taste:

"HEY, STOP PUSHING! DO NOT RUN!!!" - good luck with that, Ms. Retail Worker - those girls WILL GET THOSE DISCOUNTED UNDERPANTS AND PANTALOONS. I compliment the video editor on his choice of background music, however.

Back to Wal-Mart:

Just your typical Black Friday Wal-Mart riot. How do those people even know what they're grabbing that they supposedly want so badly (and how much it costs) to decide whether it's actually a good deal? Doesn't seem like a very intelligent shopping strategy to me.

But lest we appear classist here at The Angry Bureaucrat (since a lot of the shopping violence seemed to go down at Wal-Mart), here's the crowd at Abercrombie & Fitch:

Though at A&F, it seems to be more about the massive crowds and less about the rioting - I'll say that much for them.

And back to Wal-Mart, this time with a video of the supposed (and now infamous) pepper spray attack:

"BACK UP, BACK UP!!!" And is that an air horn? Someone mentions a stink bomb - perhaps that's the pepper spray they're smelling.

Yet more Wal-Mart action in California:

I'm running out of original things to say.

Target could also be an exciting place to be at midnight on Thanksgiving:

I would have just kept driving ....

But we've got to end with the king - Wal-Mart, this time in Utah:

I'm just shocked. My jaw is on the floor.

I'm put off my some of the comments heard in some of the above videos - expressions of incredulity or disapproval. I find it amazingly hypocritical - I mean, if you're there, standing in line to get into a store at 12:01AM on Black Friday, aren't you part of the problem?

And why do anyone go to these sales anyway? It's not for the unparalleled bargains - I found better deals sitting at home on my computer, and my sense about Black Friday deals not being all that great have been confirmed by empirical research:
Professor Etzioni, who teaches computer science at the University of Washington, has directed his considerable intellect at the American ritual of shopping for bargains on Black Friday. After examining billions of prices of consumer electronics, he has decided to spend the busiest shopping day of the year scuba-diving in Bali.
Why? It is not until early December, Professor Etzioni’s research shows, that prices are likely to be the lowest for electronics, products that are among the biggest sellers on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
“The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,” he said. “It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.”
So, what do all of the above videos demonstrate, other than that America is slowly turning into the laughing stock of the world? They seem to show some unfortunate qualities: "a horrible economy, aggressive consumerism, mindless violence, and a complete lack of concern for one's fellow human beings." Hmmm ... it's starting to sound more and more like the decline of the Roman Empire. Surely this isn't the end people want, however - to beat each other up for sport over discounted shiny objects as their jobs, families, country, and lives go to hell - is it? IS IT?!?

The most terrifying prospect, however, is that this is exactly the end that people want.

If you're one of those incomprehensible people who religiously head out to shop every Black Friday, please explain why in the comments, because I seriously don't understand the attraction of this consumerist bloodsport.


  1. If I may: the people who camp out to defend their rights are Dangerous Anarchists. The people who camp out to get the newest Nintendo are good family members who are the bulwark of our consumer economy.


  2. Vannevar,

    To be fair, I hear the newest Nintendo is pretty rad ... ;)

    Indeed, it smacks to me of the utmost hypocrisy that Black Friday shoppers are regarded as sane by the media, yet the motives of the Occupy movement are questioned, analyzed, and mistrusted. But the former supports, promotes, and underpins corporate power and profits, while the latter might present a challenge, so the latter must be stamped out.

    -The Angry Bureaucrat