Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday: The (simply) Sublime and The (tragically) Ridiculous .....

One of the perks to no longer working in news reporting is that I don't have to get up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning, covering the latest edition of the Black Friday Bacchanalia.

That's not to say I don't tune in, though ... this year, I was watching NewsWest 9/Telemundo's Victor Lopez do the ... uh ... honors of bringing us live coverage of
Black Friday in the Tall City, talking to people who had spent the past 10-hours-or-so outside a local electronics store, and hearing their plans for an even-more-serious encampent next year.

By the way, don't get me wrong here ... Victor is an outstanding writer, reporter and producer, and
NewsWest 9 was doing an admirable job covering what has become an annual news event.

My gripe is with the story itself ... and what it might say about us. We have all heard how bad the economy is nationwide ... yet, if the national news reports are any indicator, it appears that our response to the economic news is not to re-trench and make do with what we have (as our grandparents did during the Great Depression), but to go out and buy newer, bigger, better.

Or am I reading this story wrong (wouldn't be the first time), and it actually says something positive about us? What do YOU think?

I will note, though, that - at the very least - local reporters did not have the opportunity to report two stories that inspired the title for this post. In the case of one, I hope they never have to. In the case of the other, I'm hoping that they will, someday.

There was this story from the Associated Press about "The (tragically) Ridiculous" ... police are reviewing surveillance video in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down. Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

On the other hand there is
this story from KARE-TV about "The (simply) Sublime" ... hundreds of people packed into the Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul with one goal in mind: reclaiming the holiday season, to take back Black Friday as the beginning of the Christmas season that has some different values to it.


Rob said...

I'll readily admit that years ago - back when it was something of a well-kept secret - we fell prey to Black Friday's lure. We stood in line at Best Buy for oh, maybe 45 minutes before they opened to crush in with the other lunatics and snag a cheap vacuum cleaner and some flash memory for our digicam. All in the name of saving a few bucks...

But we've either gotten too wise, or simply become too jaded, to deal with all of that lunacy. We ventured out to the stores for a few small items late in the day when the Midland loop area was all but a ghost town, long vacated by the the 4 a.m. crowd. By 6-7 p.m., parking was easy and the stores were quite navigable. The clerks seemed appreciative to help some patrons who were mild-mannered & courteous, having avoided the mad dashes of the morning.

But you're right - Black Friday does not speak well of our society. We're so swept up in the consumerism that the focus of the holidays is all but lost. We're so enamored with Santa and the goodies he'll shower us in, that scarcely any mention is made of Christmas being Christ's birthday.

We're trying hard to find a balance with the joy of getting (and giving!) gifts with still being very mindful of and gratified by the ultimate gift that all mankind received on that day, so many years ago. Especially as new parents, we're striving to set a good example for our little guy on his first Christmas (with us).

Jeff said...

Rob, thanks for stopping in, and for sharing your experience "in the trenches" and the conclusions you've drawn from that experience. Rememembring our first Christmas with "baby on board," I know you two can look forward to a wonderful and blessed time.

Rob said...

It is such a thrill to see the holidays unfold through Liam's fresh little eyes!

We're trying to intermix as much about the baby Jesus as is being said about Santa when we talk about Christmas with our son. But Santa is so continuously over-hyped that kids gravitate towards that angle effortlessly. Makes it hard for the focus to not be able stuff...

And it is extremely difficult to resist getting swept up in the gift-giving and going overboard. But again, we're trying to stay sensible about it.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather see positive stories about people spending (and helping the economy) than a show advising people to sell all stocks, quit spending, hunker down and wait for an economic depression.

Hopefully NewsWest9 will remain positive with coverage and cool in a panic.

Jeff said...

George, that's what I had in mind with my suggestion about other ways of reading this story. You make a good point, though not one I agree with.