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There's a reason why they call it Black

Photo by Richard Sennott*, Star Tribune

It can be a very enjoyable outing to go shopping with friends or family the day after Thanksgiving. Can be. Used to be. While I know that some people truly enjoy camping out on a sidewalk to get into a big-box store before the rest of their fellow shoppers, I also think that this kind of "enjoyment" is a little like enjoying illegal drugs. It is remarkable--and frightening--what we Americans will tolerate having thrown at us in the way of messages that push, push, push us to buy, buy, buy. A man or woman selling drugs to children could not outdo these ads.

Have you seen the latest Target ad? I bet you have, but if not, you can see it here.  The You Tube title even calls the ad "Crazy Target Lady."

Target is a great store. I shop there a lot. This is not a great ad. And it is a worse message. But, Target will be far from alone in this kind of messaging.  You've probably also seen the news item about the Target employee who began a petition to fight back against these increasing retail hours. Here is the Minneapolis Star Tribune article about it.  And it is a reminder that all us shopping folk forget about those poor working folk whose holidays are decimated while others go on shopping "sprees."

I remember hearing about lemmings at a young age. Science has now proven that they do not all go over a cliff together, just because they see each other doing it. However, when I was young, we were told this was true. I'm delighted to hear it is not true of the lemmings, but very disturbed to see the society I live in turning into a chapter of the lemming mythology.

I do not see Black Friday as an opportunity for saving money by spending it. I do see it as a day taken away from our rest time and from our families. I see it as a day that comes after we give thanks for our blessings and then go tearing out of our houses to buy more "blessings." I see it as a time when retailers, stock holders, advertisers, and others hope that we--you and I and our children--will indeed act like the lemmings of story time, hope that we can all be herded into a fast-running mass, so wound up, so single-minded about getting in store doors that we will forget all else...perhaps even that sharp drop-off up ahead.


*Richard Sennot Bio
A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Richard Sennott has published photographs in Newsweek, the New York Times, Life magazine, and the Washington Post. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, Sennott also received a Humanitarian Award from the Minnesota Associated Press in 1990. As a documentary photographer, he has traveled to El Salvador, Bosnia, Israel, and Iraq. He also has given lectures at Carlton College and the College of Saint Thomas. See his wonderful photos and learn more about his work here.


Gnarly Mesquite said…
If the advertising agencies would advertise things that benefit society then we would be much better off. Remember when they advertised that smoking was cool? Yicch.
Yes! I do remember that. And I remember how much the right kind of advertising helped people to stop smoking ... which proves your point!I have always thought of the Friday after Thanksgiving as a special, pressure-free time .... I hope at least some folks will experience it that way this year and in the years to come.

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