Today, Friday, 134 million American lemmings with credit cards will clog roads, parking lots, and cash registers, scurrying and reaching and inching along together to take hold of dead stuff. Then they’ll all reverse course, burning yet more carbon to drag the dead objects home with them. Most of the objects that they’ll burn lots of carbon to acquire travelled to America in huge ships burning lots of carbon (and toxic bunker fuel): manufacturing these objects burnt more carbon.
How else can we spend this Friday?
How did 43% of America’s population end up doing synchronized Anthropocene fire dances on a dangeously warming planet?
The usual suspects: Freud’s nephew and the Philadelphia Police Department.
Freud’s nephew, Eddie Bernays, broke the Sense Barrier: he figured out how to use our feelings to trick us into ignoring our common sense, largely creating modern advertising, PR, and propaganda at the same time. Over the last couple of decades, Bernays’s understudies in propaganda with channels TV began to show us pictures of long lines of shoppers in November. Good lemmings and primates that we are, we keep turning to join the lines we’ve seen. All these lem-people wouldn’t keep lining up there without getting rewarded, right?
When America lines up for Black Friday’s carbon dance, how come the Philadelphia Police Department gets to call the steps? Simple: they proved they’re the go-to guys in burning down the house around us – kids and all. Hell, they’re the go-to guys in burning down the whole damn block around us. Who better to block out the action for America’s annual fire dance on our roasting planet? Philly’s PD has history on their side, too. They’ve been calling shoppers’ tune since shortly after Dick Clark moved his Bandstand from Philly to Hollywood. Bonnie Taylor-Blake from the American Dialect Society discovered:
The earliest known reference to “Black Friday” (in this sense)… refers to Black Friday 1965 and makes the Philadelphia origin explicit:
JANUARY 1966 — “Black Friday” is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing. [h/t wiki]
Without Black Friday, who’d be following in Philly’s footsteps this week? Definitely not Ted Dave – the Vancouver artist who founded Buy Nothing Day. Definitely not Kalle Lasn and the other Adbusters magazine folk who made Buy Nothing Day a global celebration. And most defintely not the folks around the planet who’ll be celebrating Buy Nothing Day this Friday in North America and this Saturday in the rest of world.
Why let the other lemmings people have all the fun? You can celebrate Buy Nothing Day, too: share the day with folks you love at home – or go out and meet new friends at Buy Nothing Day events. You can even celebrate Buy Nothing Day at your local mall – and get a second chance at Halloween!
Zombie Walk: Participant ‘zombies’ wander around shopping malls or other consumer havens with a blank stare and marvel at the expressionless faces of the shoppers (their fellow zombies).
Or this Friday you too can join 134 million walking dead, burning more carbon to bring home more dead stuff on our roasting planet. After all, how you go wrong imitating the Philadelphia Police Department?
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Buy Nothing Day!