Black Friday, America’s annual homage to rampant consumerism, is not only the day after Thanksgiving, it’s also the perfect enemy of the day we give thanks to all the things that really matter in life: family, health and harvest. Conversely, Black Friday celebrates stuff we don’t need, and so often shows just how ugly we can be when trying to obtain it.
And now Black Friday wants to move in on Thanksgiving’s mojo by infringing on the original holiday. Local retailers are complaining that local blue laws won’t allow them to open on the most widely-celebrated and uniquely American of holidays.
The Providence Journal strips the story across the top of A1 this morning, while down page you can, if you look closely, see this headline: Record number in RI seek food assistance. In one of its typically right-skewing online polls, more than 80 percent of respondents say stores should stay closed on Thanksgiving.
RI Public Radio last week let a little astroturfing slide on the subject, calling Paul DeRoche the director of the Rhode Island Retail Federation. In reality, he’s the lone member of that “federation” and is better known as a lobbyist for the Providence Chamber of Commerce.
Ted Nesi inadvertently amplified the poor-Black-Friday narrative with an Executive Suite interview of the owner of longtime local not-quite-as-big box store Benny’s.
And Patch, which broke this non-story locally, didn’t try to hide its bias at all and just turned its coverage into a free ad for Walmart.
Which is what it is.
The retail giant wants more opportunities to sell its junk to consumers, so it sent out a couple press releases and whispered in the ear of some local pro-business groups and just waited for the the media to do it’s thing.
But as the rest of the country is learning that employees at thousands of Walmarts from Washington D.C to Seattle are planning a strike to protest being forced to work on Thanksgiving, the media here is largely simply parroting Walmart’s talking point that Black Friday is being oppressed by anachronistic blue laws.
If anything, as a society, we should be working on ways to extend the Thanksgiving mojo not the Black Friday vibe. One way to do this is to participate in Buy Nothing Day at the State House, where Greg Gerritt will be collecting clothes to be shared with those who can’t afford to participate in the Black Friday madness.