The disturbances of 1968, which in several countries lasted into the following years, having nowhere overthrown the existing organization of the society from which it springs apparently spontaneously, the spectacle has thus continued to gather strength; that is, to spread to the furthest limits on all sides, while increasing its density in the centre. It has even learnt new defensive techniques, as powers under attack always do.
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Shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a custom that is tradition to some and puzzling to others, got a new twist this year with several stores opening as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Analysts said that retailers were aiming for customers who might have limited budgets and trying to appeal to people who would rather stay awake late than awaken for a 4 a.m. opening.
The first numbers on Friday’s sales results are not available until Sunday, but many malls and stores said they were seeing more visitors than last year. Macy’s Herald Square estimated that 9,000 people were waiting for its midnight opening, versus 7,000 when it opened at 5 a.m. last year. The earlier starting times seemed to bring out younger consumers who wanted to extend their Thanksgiving Day revelry by checking out the bargains. But many first-time Black Friday shoppers seemed puzzled by the fuss.
New York Times
Black Friday Shoppers Fan Out in the Dark of Night
Budget-minded shoppers will be racing for bargains at ever-earlier hours while the rich mostly will not be bothering to leave home. The low-end and midrange retailers are risking low margins as they cut prices to attract shoppers, while executives at luxury stores say that they are actually able to sell more at full price than in recent boom years. “We’re now into a less promotional environment than we were before the recession,“ said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks.
New York Times
Opening Day for Shoppers Shows Divide
Oh, you shoppers – what fearless American Spectaclists!
So, to get this straight: In the United States, amidst the early stages of a “double-dip” recession, the shopping holiday of Black Friday has extended its hours and encroached onto the day of Thanksgiving, in the process raising sales a record 7% from last year while the rich mostly stayed home. “Sale-crazed consumers” to use Post-speak, setting out like zombies across the land, pitching tents, lining up by the thousand at department and so-called big-box stores. You cannot help but wonder: who are these people and what is driving them?
The first part of that question is the easier to answer. They are probably people you know. Or at the least they are people who people you know know. They are about as ordinary and all-walks-of-life as I could imagine any demographic to be. Just looking at their faces you can see how little they have to do with one another. The common cause is clear, but as far as any sense of unity goes… it wasn’t surprising that things got ugly in a few places. Just ask anyone who’s done it – bargain hunting is always teetering on the edge of a swerve for the violent.
The most fabulous and telling of the Black Friday spectacles this week was the Los Angeles woman who pepper sprayed other shoppers at a Walmart to beat out fierce competition for an X-Box. Or as the New York Post put it perfectly: Woman Pepper Sprays Rivals in Sales Frenzy. The frenzy! My god. Apparently she turned herself into police the next day.
Is it not perfectly obvious that this years excess of spectacular consumerist frenzy is a mirroring, if not a direct response, to the #Occupy movements around the country? When I first heard of the numbers standing outside of Macys, I was immediately reminded of the wildly varying numbers that have been reported on the turn-outs at marches since the Occupation began. And just on the heels of the origin of the Occupation having been swept out and evicted in the dead of night, accompanied by an unheard-of exiling of journalists – the dark of night, the pepper spray, the tents! – and what is the Movement doing to counter-act or aggravate this arguably greater Movement of demented consumerism? By what spectacle-logic have these two Movements come into collision? And where in the world will it take us?
America has forged a new big-box-store-cum-concentration-camp aesthetic by way of the common denominator. And it is only growing. There are already Walmarts in China.
With the destruction of history, contemporary events themselves retreat into a remote and fabulous realm of unverifiable stories, uncheckable statistics, unlikely explanations and untenable reasoning. To this list of triumphs of power we should, however, add one result which has proved negative: once the running of a state involves a permanent and massive shortage of historical knowledge, that state can no longer be led strategically.
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