Black Friday Underscores Classism
by Patrick Huang on Friday, December 11th, 2015
Black Friday is a day of deals, but, for some, it is also a day to deride others. This unfortunate aspect of Black Friday is especially true this year, as videos documenting the fights between rowdy Black Friday shoppers have surfaced in larger quantities. To make matters worse, people on social media, websites, or even news stations have decided to condemn and joke about these cantankerous consumers. Though shopping-caused violence may be uncalled for, do these people, who may be less fortunate, really deserve this treatment?
Jokes about Black Friday have existed for some time, but recently this humor has been taken too far. Now we see more and more disapproval, in media and online, targeting a certain group of people who prioritize their needs over safety. According to The Washington Post, this year’s Black Friday jokes demonstrate just how out of control the harassment has gotten. Not only do various web sites collect the “best” brawl videos and post their findings online, but The Washington Post article also claims that hosts on “Good Morning America”, Fox News, and CNN are using Black Friday shopper violence videos in their programs. The hosts then follow up the videos with harsh and public ridicule directed at the people in the videos.
First, these acts of violence may have underlying motives other than just to claim that amazing deal before the next shopper. The same Washington Post article states that the majority of Black Friday shoppers are millennials, non-whites, and single mothers. It is possible that these groups struggle more to support their families or stabilize their own lives, and Black Friday, with it’s abundance of deals, can help ease the financial stress of their situation.
In fact, The Washington Post points out one trend in the videos that we are watching: almost all of the shoppers getting into Black Friday brawls are non-white Americans. So, is it a coincidence that people, especially the wealthy, like to laugh at less privileged minorities who struggle to make ends meet? Probably not, since clearly the wealthy are not tussling over discounted items.
At this point, we can understand why people find it amusing to shame violent Black Friday shoppers, whether the fighting be over clothing or electronics. By putting someone down for what seems like “barbaric” acts of violence in the pursuit of discounted items, one assumes superiority over the targets of the jokes. As the article eloquently puts it, “we differentiate ourselves, [reaffirming] our class status as being above the fray of the lowly and desperate.”
People fight over Black Friday most often because they desperately need to provide for someone back home. In a country plagued with racial tension and a common belief that one must constantly assert his or her status, it is not surprising that the wealthier class might find confrontations during Black Friday to be amusing.
Perhaps our nation’s socio economic divide has driven people too far apart; thus creating a cultural space in which it is acceptable for people to make fun of the less fortunate. It seems Black Friday greatly undermines the day of Thanksgiving that precedes it. Clearly, making fun of other people is not what we mean by Holiday Spirit.
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