Fistfights have broken out, police have made arrests – the capitalist apocalypse is most definitely here
For some reason (well, one: we fucking love buying stuff), Black Friday has jumped the Atlantic and headed straight into the heart of British consumer culture. Stores like Asda and Tesco opened at midnight and everybody simultaneously loved it and hated it.
Here's one Vine to show the grandkids:
And another of cheerleaders urging Asda shoppers to spend more:
The BBC reports that police have been called to supermarkets and department stores all across Britain, with police arresting three people in Manchester alone. 200 people refused to leave a store in Middleton despite being told that everything had gone. There's been shopper-on-shopper scuffles in Glasgow, threats of outright violence (one man in Salford said he would "smash a staff member's face in") and poignantly, one woman was injured by a falling television.
At least two people arrested at #BlackFriday sales events already this morning. Keep calm people!— G M Police (@gmpolice) November 28, 2014
This being Britain, we're already trying to make it about class. The Vine below shows a man ferociously pushing through a queue to pick up a TV and comes with the delightful title Queue Jumping Chav. Some people will no doubt attempt to make a class issue out of footage of humanity pissing its self-respect onto iMacs – but you're kidding yourself if you think it's just the working class who like buying shit.
It was the Philadelphia Police Department who first coined the term "Black Friday" in the 1950s as a response to the havoc that accompanied the day after Thanksgiving as people swarmed around shops looking for deals. Over fifty years later, the tradition is still going strong – except in 2014, it's discount electronic goods that stirs up a violent mania in us.
According to Black Friday Death Count (yes, this is a thing), there have been seven deaths and 90 injuries since 2006. In America you're twice as likely to die shopping on Black Friday than at the hands of a shark.
These mad dashes for cheap Beats by Dre headphones and plasma TVs are encouraged by time-sensitive deals and even more ways of squeezing cash out of people. Debenhams, for instance, has set up bars and restaurants for people to relax and spend more money while they get stressed and spend money. Who even normally thinks: "Oh look, it's Black Friday. Anyone fancy a steak and a glass of prosecco at Debs?"
Black Friday does have prior history in the UK, if only by name alone. On November 18 1910, suffragettes descended on Parliament to protest against the Conciliation Bill, a law that extended the right to vote to women only if they were wealthy and owned property. Police assaulted female protesters and the press heaped shame onto the government, adding momentum to the suffragettes' cause. The day is known as Black Friday.
A century or so later, the name's jumped back into British consciousnessness – but this time we're not fighting for human rights. Just more TVs.