Updated: December 27, 2012 6:03AM
Tragedy plus time equals comedy. We know that one.
Here’s another one for you:
Stupidity plus time equals, “I’m such an idiot.”
By now, one would hope thousands of Black Friday shoppers with newly purchased flat-screen TVs or cellular phones or lingerie ensembles or video game players are flashing back to the chaos of late last week and thinking:
Wow. I’m such an idiot. I actually waited in line for six hours, stampeded into a store, elbowed and pushed my fellow human beings — all so I could buy a Christmas gift for my kid. What was I thinking?!
In last Wednesday’s column, I wrote, “By noon [on Black Friday], we’ll be seeing the first of the viral videos showing shoppers tumbling to the ground, getting into fistfights, knocking over security personnel and making children cry …”
Nostra-dummy could have called that one. It was about as difficult as predicting the guardians would rise in “Rise of the Guardians.”
YouTube has fresh new Black Friday 2012 videos of shoppers getting arrested, storming the gates of a Victoria’s Secret, screaming at one another, ripping into a crate of cell phones as if their children were starving and the crate contained water and food.
The retail industry cheerfully refers to Black Friday-type sales as “Door Busters.” Fantastic. You’re telling us you want us to bust down the doors and stampede like mindless, hopped-up zombies in the name of grabbing an in-store bargain not available anywhere else.
Yes, every individual is responsible for his own actions. But if you advertise “DOOR BUSTING BARGAINS” for days leading up to Black Friday, if you allow customers to camp out in tents in your parking lot, if you have no crowd-containment strategy other than opening the gates and getting the hell out of the way — don’t be surprised if your store gets a starring role in a viral video.
There’s got to be a better way. We live in a world in which you can purchase a 700-page book with a couple of clicks and the entire contents will be available on your magic tablet within seconds. Not minutes. Seconds. And yet we still have people lining up in the dark, physically crashing into one another and storming the gates of a store, as if it’s “Game of Thrones” with gadgets.
Not that I subscribe to the “This is why the world hates us!” school of thought. Yes, thousands of Americans acted like utter fools over the Thanksgiving holiday as they created a human crush of greed and stupidity in the quest for some gadget or item of clothing they won’t care about in a year. But in other lands, we’ve seen that kind of behavior and much worse from people worked up over soccer games, editorial cartoons, concert cancellations, stupid movies and a Stanley Cup loss.
Mass group idiocy is not a uniquely American trait.
That’s one big dog
Even with a clicker at the ready, there’s no escaping at least some of the one zillion ads that ran during the long weekend’s cornucopia of college and NFL games. A few questions about a few of those ads:
†If you’re guzzling watered-down beer with 64 calories to the bottle, are you really going to be belting out a pseudo-Irish pub song? And if the song is supposed to be a parody, does that mean Miller is making fun of guys that would actually drink Miller 64? I don’t know, but I can’t get that damn song out of my head.
†Why are the people in the Target ads delighted at the sight of seemingly 30-foot bull terrier with a red circle around one eye marauding through the streets? Shouldn’t they be running for their lives? IT’S A GIANT DOG.
†If you’re going to showcase all the amazing things your smart tablet can do, why are you featuring simulated images and feats of magic your smart tablet CAN’T actually do?
†Car ads. “Stunt driver on closed course. Don’t attempt.” Wife borrows hubby’s car and then drives home from the grocery store like a maniac. Hubby digs into groceries, opens can of soda — can of soda explodes in his face. Why is this supposed to make us want to buy that car?
†How about those ads featuring multiple wives approaching multiple husbands to talk about their up-and-down financial portfolio? All these couples appear to be onstage yet unaware of one another, as if they’re starring in some updated adaptation of “Our Town.” Talk about depressing.
†When LeBron James walks into that barbershop to get his hair cut, how come nobody points out he looks like he just got a haircut?