So, it’s the day after Thanksgiving! For my American viewers who survived yesterday without getting into an argument with your racist grandpa over the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict… actually, scratch that. It’s 2021. Let’s normalize putting racist Boomers and the Greatest Generation in their place.
Even if they’re family?
Especially if they’re family.
For my non-American viewers, in this video, I’m going to talk about consumerism, Americanization, and we’ll look at some Polish ads for Black Friday. Because that’s a thing that exists. For some reason. And I hate that Black Friday exists at all, and especially that it exists in countries other than the US.
Some background. I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, and I remember one of my English classes from the week of Thanksgiving, back when I still lived in the US. I asked my class of adult students if they’d heard of the holiday that was taking place that week. They all said yes. Great, I said. What can you tell me about it? Expecting to hear about turkey or pie or some Americana nonsense.
This week is Black Friday, a student said. The most important shopping day of the year.
Eh, that’s not really a holiday, I said.
It isn’t? Said the student. But we don’t have school on Black Friday. Doesn’t that make it a holiday?
That’s when I learned how widespread the American Dream of buying stuff is, and I disappointed my students by telling them… I had no idea where the best deals were. I never even went shopping on Black Friday! They were so let down— instead of the inside scoop into the best malls from an actual American, they got stuck with a commie for a teacher.
And yeah, I know that I’m dating myself by several decades when I mention AdBuster’s “Buy Nothing Day.” Don’t care. Here’s my American flag with logos for stars that I dug out of storage this summer.
Thanksgiving’s colonized history is bad enough— which is a topic I may go into on another video— but we need to talk about Black Friday. And specifically, that it’s a thing in countries other than the US.
In the US, there’s at least a certain amount of capitalist logic to it. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, and Since traditionally, almost everyone has not only Thanksgiving, but the Friday after, off of work… what’s the most American thing to do, that doesn’t involve guns? Go buy stuff! And so that day after Thanksgiving became the unofficial start of the Christmas buying frenzy.
That grew into Black Friday. The name comes from stores being “in the black” after people buy a lot of stuff, as opposed to being “in the red,” or in debt.
Now it’s grown into a weird circus, with people camping outside of stores for discounted TVs or whatever, local news stations happy that so many people are actually watching them, and some stores having the audacity to have their employees come in… on Thanksgiving.
When I lived in the US, I fucking hated Black Friday. To me, it represented everything idiotic and hypocritical about Americans.
First I have to listen to my conservative, vaguely racist family complain about the non-existent “War on Christmas” and how those mean godless liberals want to take away their “Christian holiday.” Yes, I actually had people I am related to complain about this. To me. Their pagan, lefty relative. I mean, read the room. I’m not sympathetic.
Second… if you’re more upset about what the governor of Rhode Island calls his pine tree and Starbucks choosing to sell more coffee by using the word “holiday” in its December marketing campaigns, WHILE IGNORING how your “Christian” holiday has mutated into a grotesque display of over-consumption and saccharine nonsense, lasting far longer than any holiday has any right to— especially a holiday that has its roots in multiple pagan traditions, centuries older than Christianity itself— if you’re still upset about a “war on Christmas” than you’re not only fucking stupid, but also, morally bankrupt. Why does the word “holiday” trigger you more than over-consumption?
So I left the US, and left my Trump-voting, complaining about pressing 1 for English, ridiculous family behind.
Then, I discovered: Black Friday is a thing in Poland. Like, here’s some videos and pictures from a mall I took. Not just Black Friday, but… Black Week! And the best… Black MONTH.
At first, I didn’t really care. It’s just a name for a sale. But… after a couple of years of listening to Polish priests complain about LGBT rights, specifically blaming so-called “western” influence for it… and watching the same priests also complain about Halloween, I got kinda… upset.
A side note: I completely understand if you don’t want American culture, or the English language, all over your country. I kinda dislike how pervasive US culture is, when most of it is… not very good.
I mean, US culture seems to be largely screwing over brown people, guns, and putting food on sticks before deep-frying it. Not a great legacy. And yes, there’s interesting pockets of things in US culture, but, the vast majority of it involves mayonnaise or colonialism. Basically, making everything extra bland. And I’m saying this as a white person who has a favorite brand of vegan mayo.
I get not wanting American influence everywhere. So, why, Poland, if Halloween a scary devil holiday, but Black Friday is…
A way to market your church!
This headline reads:
Black Friday in church: we give a 100 percent discounts on weddings and baptisms. I am NOT making this headline up. It’s from a church in Poznan.
So, to review: paganism = bad, because not god; but capitalism = good, because, god like capitalism?
Hey, Polish clergy? And every American so-called Christian who has ever uttered the phrase “war on Christmas?” Since when is Jesus a capitalist? The guy who hung out with fisherman and preached about giving away all your money so you could get into heaven? That guy? HE’S a capitalist?
And yes, there’s other things I could be getting angry about. Like Line 3, the oil pipeline being built over Native land in the US that’s already screwing up the water quality in the Mississippi, or the humanitarian rights crisis on the Polish-Belorsuian border, or the proposal made public this week that conservative Poland’s PiS party wants to make a pregnancy registry. Yeah, you heard that right! Poland’s one step closer to the Handmaid’s Tale.
But I’m complaining about Black Friday, because over-consumption is killing the planet.
I’ve been doing Earth Day stuff since elementary school when I earnestly watched Captain Planet. Now I’m 40 years old, the climate is changing, and I’m pissed.
So, have a Bright Yule, Happy Saturnalia, and death to capitalism. Now I’m going to make some pumpkin pie with pumpkins I grew myself.
And I’m willing to bet that the stores announcing they won’t have people working on Thanksgiving, are just doing it for the good PR, not because they care about their employees.