Monday, November 20, 2006

The Most Wonderful (Shopping) Time of the Year?

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - About this time of year in the past, I would most likely shoot my mouth off (literally and figuratively) about the commercialism that has corrupted the so-called "holiday season": how it's become all about the money instead of all about the "holiday spirit"---if there even is such a thing, or if that "spirit" is another pernicious creation of big chain stores to justify to people the expense of buying extravagant gifts for loved ones...and, in the case of Black Friday coming up soon, waking up at, like, 5 a.m. in order to risk life and limb to get particular gifts. Black indeed: who'd be greedy enough to add to such an ugly spectacle of consumerism?

I would say all that, but then I'd be unforgivably hypocritical.

Last year, my family entered into the Black Friday sweepstakes and got a nice Philips 42" widescreen plasma television set out of it (and I also got the third season of 24 on DVD for a little over $20---an unbeatable deal). And you know what? Yesterday I realized that I was already starting to think about---and heck, even get a little excited about---what great deals would be available at local stores this Friday.

Is it possible that I'm starting to become corrupted by the consumerism of the holiday season? Last year was a rarity: our family rarely partakes in Black Friday shopping, but last year I guess my parents felt like it was time to go high-def. A couple of days ago, here I was talking about how we should try to get a sound system this year to go along with our TV. And when I blurted that out at the end of dinner at home, I immediately started to feel a twinge of guilt. I dislike what Black Friday stands for---and yet here I am, thinking about waking up early as hell on Friday morning to become one of its participants. (Will the fourth season of 24 be available at a rock-bottom price this year?) Dammit, Kenji, didn't you take anything out of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead???

Maybe I shouldn't feel so conflicted about this. Admit it, Kenji, you like to consume. If you were much more high-and-mighty about consumerism than you claimed to be in the opening paragraph of this blog entry, maybe you wouldn't even bother to have a DVD collection in the first place; you could always rent if you wanted to watch a film you saw before instead of dropping down $20 or $30 for an extravagantly priced Criterion Collection DVD. As long as you don't go overboard, as long as you control your spending on don't spend too much on meaningless shit (and most of my DVDs, I like to think, aren't meaningless---except, maybe, my Die Hard Ultimate Collection set), you'll probably be better than most Americans regarding consumption habits.

Still, the wannabe nonconformist in me balks a little at how potentially excited I am about the deals that might await me come Friday morning; I feel like I'm becoming part of some kind of vast nationwide consumption machine. After my experience last year, maybe I am. Maybe, according to Best Buys and Circuit Citys across the country, I've finally seen the light, so to speak---and the light is beckoning me to spend, spend, spend.

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