Black Friday, Blue Mondays

You gotta love living in America.  Here it is, just a couple weeks removed from the election, when as a bitterly divided electorate, we went to the polls and brought closure to the hate trade;  now we’re all primed and pumped, ready to shop-till-we-drop ‘cuz, in the end, that’s what living in this country is all about.  The masses are moved by the upside of supposedly wholesales prices, deals you could not get at any other time than now.  So, just as some folks had to wait in lines forever to vote, now many others have waited in line in cold climes to get a first crack at shopping.  Supposedly, being there last night and being there tomorrow night makes a difference between getting fifteen and fifty gifts.  We are such willing dupes to how the market does us in.

Like Christmas itself, Thanksgiving has long been a seller’s season, and though they like to tell us it is a buyer’s market, most of us don’t realize that they can afford to sell so much at reduced prices because the stuff is cheaply made anyway from even cheaper resources — start with cheap labor.  But don’t let comments re: your conscience bothering you keep you from acquiring this year’s Oversized Xtra-durable Buzz Lightyear Flying Gear:  your kid’s been waiting for that all year, whining at you between commercials and the latest 30 minute episodes optimizing particular product placement.

Capitalism | Intentious

We worship one god in this country, borne from one religion — Capitalism, and that’s fine except we play church every Sunday and sing to that old school Lord in the Heavens.  Sartre hit it on the head when he said, “Hell is other people,” and the selling season (Xmas time) provides the best case to illustrate that maxim.  It will only worsen as we approach Lil’ Baby Jesus Hour when finally the din will die down for a day.  Then the pantomime will resume soon thereafter as the next act in the selling season begins — gift returns and exchanges along with using those convenient gift cards.

The prophets of television are, themselves, all about profit.  My favorite is a brother named Creflo Dollar!  (Really?  That’s what your mama named you?  Go ‘head!)  Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and the old timers — Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, the Billy Graham Clan:  it’s like the O’Jays sang, “Money money money muh-nay!  Muh-NAY!”  They say they worship a mighty god, and money, indeed, is mighty, not mighty mighty like Earth, Wind & Fire, but so mighty, even spirituality suffers.

Look at the phenomenon that Apple’s “i” strategy has become:  it is essentially the same product presented in different packaging over and over and over again, and here we come to take our place in line (I love the things we voluntarily wait in line for: Apple anything, Star Wars, Harry Potter… I was relieved when folks were willing to wait for hours on queue to vote… there is still a kernel of integrity in our hearts).  Go ahead, preach to me.  Tell me how “revolutionary” Apple is. Tell me how having an Apple product has changed your life.  Tell me how Apple outpaces its competition in innovation.  And as you do, I will be watching (as I often do) a person who has acquired a new religion, joined a new sect, taken on a cult’s vision: the kool-aid ain’t gotta be purple anymore — as long as it’s kool-aid ‘cuz kool-aid tastes good!  And yet, if I told you Hawaiian Punch was essentially the same stuff, you’d go down swearing it was inferior, it can’t compete, it is just so different.  This is how it gets when you listen to Apple-ites convert folks from PCs or talk them away from Droids or try to uplift you from simplicity to sophistication thanks to the “i” propaganda — they’re as tolerant as scientologists.

What evidence exists that the Apple’s “i” mentality is so effective?  Look no further than the streets, the ‘hood.  There’s lots of phone and products to steal, but damn it!, you stylin’ if you can get your hands on “i” anything… but first, you gotta figure out how to disable that GPS app that lets you know when “I is fucked” and the stolen gear located — but why be a downer?  It is a status thing, so much so that the masses of the lower classes are willing to walk around with a device pilfered from elsewhere — because they can’t afford it at the regular prices.  Talk about trickle down: that theory does have proof that it works, just not in the way it’s advertised.

Seems we’ve taken this idea that a person’s house is her/his castle, and we must accumulate stuff to justify existence.  Are we then like mini-pharaohs who will place all the things we need to accompany us to the afterlife?  What is with this constant pursuit of things?  When you wake up, after you pee and apply toothpaste, does it hit you like a divine wisdom, “Must buy this today!  Or I will die!”  Here’s the real question:  are you a sucka or a playa?  Are you going all out to get the latest greatest thing, or are you making money off of other folks’ desires and desperation?  Do you take time to make a list of needs v. wants?  (An immoral question, a mortal sin, in the Capitalist religion:  I want what I want how I want when I want it, and I want it now!)

Aesop said, God helps those who help themselves.  Start with your reflection:  examine what drives you to do these things.  Stop and consider whether your life would be so vastly changed by owning more of more.  So what if that big-screen TV stays on the wall at the mall for another day/week/month/year:  does the information sound differently when hooked up to your dynamically fantastic surround sound situation?  Does everyday tragedy translate better through 5-way speakers?

We don’t have to run back to Nature or go totally green.  We just need to take into account the impact of our actions.  Consumers are their own worst enemy. For all the yap yap about debt crisis, we are a key part of that problem.  We have overspent, we have overreached, we are culpable yet we don’t want to be bothered with that truth.  Look in the mirror:  Don’t like the reflection?  Step back and reconsider where all this consumption is leading, what it’s costing us.  And if that’s too much or too Un-American, the next time a great and looming financial crisis rises in our midst, do me a favor and don’t run, suddenly, to the corners or cower in the closet. Come forward and take your comeuppance:  you were present when the crime went down.  Come do your time.


Author: Renard Boissiere



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Categories: Business, Events

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3 Comments on “Black Friday, Blue Mondays”

  1. November 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Well said!

  2. kelly
    November 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    i would have liked to have said it better myself, but i wouldn’t have come close. we are not a christian nation, dare i say we are not a democracy! we are a corporate nation. we are a consumer nation. pure and simple. we are consumerists. dish it out and we’ll buy it because it makes us think we’re better than you.

  3. November 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    We just need to take into account the impact of our actions

    Explain how we quantifiably do this, and you have a winner.

    It is also very difficult to say in the ‘hood, “we could lift you out of poverty BUT you’re not allowed to buy cheap goods to enable that as you need to pay for the full impact of your actions

    Sadly, Capitalism is currently the most efficient way to harvest human ambition and hence drive progress. If you can come up with an alternative that is as productive, you would change human history

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