Black Friday is another American nightmare

It's a big thing over there, and now it's coming over here

Share
Related Topics

I don't know the exact provenance of one of my favourite political cartoons, but I know it comes from a paper in the Middle East and dates back to 2003, at the height of the West's “War on Terror”. It shows a poor young Arab man at night in a deserted souk. There he is assembling a rocket launcher, and the only light he has to work with comes from the illumination of a Coca-Cola dispenser.

This simple, brilliantly conceived, image was, for me, a trenchant and thought-provoking comment on one aspect of the particularly complex geo-politics of the world at that time. On the one hand, people in less developed countries cherished the iconography and yearned for the material assets of America, the Hollywood stars, the big cars and the fast food, but on they other they raged against American cultural imperialism and what it had done to their indigenous culture.

This latter point seemed, to me, to have a certain amount of validity. I know it's another sign of my advancing age, but I find myself in gathering antipathy towards the stealthily Americanisation of our own culture and society. My anger is not murderous, and my protest is silent, like avoiding Starbucks. And it's complicated by the fact that I love visiting America, I've rarely met an American I didn't like, and I bow to no one in my love of modern American culture - my life would have been so much poorer without Philip Roth, Larry David and 30Rock (which is, incidentally, the greatest show of its type that has ever been on TV. Bar none).

I've only just finished complaining about Hallowe'en. Not that many years ago, we never took any notice of Hallowe'en. Of course, we'd seen the fuss they make of it in the States from the movies, but we concentrated on Bonfire Night, an occasion that was part of British culture and history. Over the past couple of decades, this hierarchy has been dramatically reversed. Hallowe'en has become a big day in our calendar. Shops have a bonanza, it's a party opportunity, and you can't move for trick-or-treaters. Bonfire night is now a much inferior status: after all, there's not been a series of Hollywood films about Guy Fawkes.

And now welcome to Black Friday. This is the day after Thanksgiving when the whole of America goes retail crazy, propelled to the shops by all manner of cut price deals. It's a big thing over there, and it's come over here. Many big British stores are today offering substantial Black Friday discounts in an effort to pack the shops. It's so called because it represents the day when many retailers, who trade at a loss for the rest of the year, start going into profit. But it has very different echoes in Britain. Like Black Tuesday, or Black Wednesday, days when billions were wiped off share prices. But mark my words: Black Friday is here to stay, and in years to come, will be a fixture in our lives. The thin, seemingly trivial, end of a very large wedge. I will leave the vacuous Americanisms infecting our everyday language for another time. Oh, I almost forgot. Have a nice day!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Why it won’t be the i wot won it – our promise to you

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor