Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday

Black Friday?  Where did that suddenly come from?  Two years ago, practically no-one in Britain had heard of this sinister-sounding event. This year, it's everywhere.  Many are pointing the finger at Amazon, but it's shameful how quickly we have succumbed to the viral spread of this opportunity for consumer hysteria.  It's American, of course.  First their orange'n'black-plastic-pumpkin Hallowe'en came along to displace Guy Fawkes Night, now this.  Mind you, I have now realised that for decades I never actually understood the Steely Dan song "Black Friday" on the Katy Lied album.

It's one of the more depressing aspects of the Web, at least as encountered in English (you mean -- gasp! -- the Web exists in languages other than English??), that far from spreading international multicultural understanding it has merely served to confirm the presumption that the customs and practices of the United States are the default settings of humanity.  Entirely American occasions like Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl tend to be used as temporal references without explanation or apology as if they were global markers of the year.

Although we British have been guilty of many wicked things, I don't think we have ever been inclined to regard ourselves as the norm but rather as a nation apart, and have preferred it that way.  Even if you chose to believe that, as an Imperial Brit, you had won "first prize in the lottery of life" (Cecil Rhodes), that was a view generally leavened by a fascination with the details and differences of creed and culture that made an empire such a fun thing to have.  And if Canadians didn't want to play cricket, or drink tea, or drive on the left, so be it.

Obviously, if you are a non-Christian non-European living in the tropics or the Southern Hemisphere, this sort of hegemonic annoyance has been going on for a very long time.  Why, of course the year is 2014, and of course the year is divided into seasons, with summer in August and winter in December, when naturally all children are looking forward excitedly to Christmas.

Sorry, everyone.