Matney: Black Friday isn’t the only form of commercialization threatening Thanksgiving

Lucas Matney, Columnist

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It’s kind of hilarious how perverse Black Friday is if you get down to it. Having a national holiday devoted to being thankful for the nonmaterial blessings that enrich our lives (friends, family, good health, etc.) directly followed by one of the largest shopping days of the year is ludicrous, right? One grueling day of giving thanks probably doesn’t need to be followed by a day of mall riot-inducing debauchery.

Now, I’ve certainly been a participant of Black Friday in years past, but last year when retailers decided they would begin opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, it was difficult not to be taken aback by the irony of the whole situation. For a day that has already been commercialized into a day of football, televised parades and extensive shopping lists, it almost seemed inevitable for it to be overtaken and morphed into the twin of the largest shopping day of the year.

If we can accept our consumer habits for what they are, then theoretically, there really isn’t anything wrong with adding another day of shopping to the calendar, but as a culture, we’ve bestowed Thanksgiving with some sort of uniquely American moral fortitude. This makes Thanksgiving more than just a day — it’s a litmus test of the nation’s materialistic values.

This year, it seems we’re relying on keeping employers responsible to “fight back” and win the battle to keep Black Friday confined to the calendar day of Friday. Sitting on the sidelines of this media spectacle, you just have to think, what the hell is wrong with us? Are we really relying on corporations to protect us from commercializing Thanksgiving?

I truly don’t even really know what materialism is anymore. Everything just comes second nature to me these days, and it’s impossible to think of our consumer society as anything out of the ordinary. Maybe it’s the product of the invasiveness of Internet advertising or the growing commodification of everything by the startup world, but it seems like America is rapidly running out of sacred spaces.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, we really need to either drop the veneration and treat it like another commercial holiday or actually put some effort into approaching the day in a more conscientious manner in an effort to uphold the traditions and values we’ve built up around it.

Lucas Matney is a Medill junior. He can be reached at lucasmatney2016@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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