Black Friday, Zombie Deals and the Economic Burden on American Followership

Zombie hordes figured prominently in the 2012 US election hoo-ha.

We had the general Halloween zombie cartoons about brainless followers of the wrong candidate. (Republican or Democrat, everyone was slapped with that accusation at some point!)

And Joss Whedon’s brilliant celebration of Romney’s vision to create Zombie Apocalypse made “Zomney” a catch word of the week.

Poor Romney was unable to shake the voters’ feeling that he was marching to orders from other leaders in the party — and that he would say whatever they wanted him to say in order to get funding and votes. Not a zombie, really — just a leader without much grounding or clarity about what he stood for beyond the election’s immediate challenge.

Zombies will not die! I mean… they’re still in the news, with Black Friday.

Check out The Sweet Spot, a NY Times ArtBeat video column by David Carr and O.A. Scott.

Apocalyptic weather in NY and New Jersey, the hit TV show The Walking Dead, and Black Friday all intersect in a clever weave of pop culture and the political economy. “At a time when polar ice caps are melting, when there’s wars firing up all over the globe, when there’s weather patterns that can’t be explained…” zombies rather cheer us up. We identify with the zombie fighters, the last survivors going “by our wits and resourcefulness.”

It’s so American. “We are the survivors” never the zombies, in our imagination. Watch the video. Watch it now. Please. Then come back and I’ll tell you something new.

Never zombies, always leaders/heroes, American followers are as confused and arrogant as our leaders.

Just look at Black Friday. We all need some stuff, but really, there was a lot of stuff out there that we shuffled off to buy! And why?

Because it was there! Because we need it! Because we’re broke because the economy is busted because we owe too much money because we’re broke because the stock market crashed because of the bank-induced housing crisis because we owe too much money because there aren’t enough jobs and what will I get-give-buy for Christmas!?

Because it is on the backs of American consumers — I mean, followers — that this recovery is being built. The monthly statistics are all about us, fellow followers. When we buy more, the outlook for economic recovery looks rosy. When we buy less, well…. Corporations don’t hire as many people. So who can fix it?! WE CAN FIX IT!

First off, that doesn’t make much sense, does it. Consumers are not the leaders of the economic recovery. But we are putting money in the coffers of manufacturers and businesses who are not hiring even though they are making recovery-levels of money. One argument is that businesses are spending money to replace outdated equipment — which actually describes most of my Black Friday purchases as well! Another argument is that the uncertainty of the recovery is causing businesses to lock down hiring and double up on temporary or multi-jobbed employees.

Whatever the reason, it’s apparently up to us followers/consumers to get enough credit — I mean money — into the economy so that businesses will hire us so we can spend more money — I mean credit. Because let’s face it, at the end of the month, they’re the ones having the party while I look at my new photoprinter and my new alarm clock and the stack of (spoiler alert!) thumb drives I’m giving everyone for Christmas and say, “Is that all there is?”

Nope, it just doesn’t make sense. Takes all the fun out of shopping, doesn’t it?

Does unconscious consuming make us mindless zombies? No! I say, “No!” Well, maybe.

We’re not exactly zombies. But hungry consumers looking for the living deal so we can eat it before anyone else does, that we are. And I do mean, we. I “saved” a good 500 dollars yesterday by spending 500 dollars! (High five! Yeah!) And I was not alone. Online sales yesterday were up 24% from last year‘s Black Friday feast-o-frenzied-spending, with a higher percentage from cell phones. Followers on-the-go consuming electronics with electronics.

It’s addictive, if not infectious, following the trends and the “upcoming deals” and trying to get the timing just right to get the whatsis we always wanted to make ourselves feel — rich? Functional? Generous? Recovered?

Look, the problem isn’t buying and owning things, or even wanting (and for most of us needing) a good price in order to justify buying the things we need and want. It’s the burden of it all — that we, the ones who are supposed to get the trickle down from the top are being told we’re the ones whose nickels and dimes trickle up to feed the companies that we need to feed and lead us!

Capitalism thus makes zombies of us all! No, no, that’s not what I mean….

I mean, Capitalism thus makes everyone a leader. Even the poorest follower has the responsibility to buy, buy, buy. So we can be heroes, just for one day.

Maybe we’d be better off eating brains instead of “lightning deals!”


  1. […] (Whether consumers are followers or leaders or both is a slippery question. It seems sometimes that we imagine ourselves to be leading trends, and buy accordingly. Or, like lemmings, we follow the trends, and buy what everyone else is buying.) […]


  2. […] year, I wrote about the zombie followers lining up for Black Friday deals. (By the way, I was one of them!) This year, I’m on a budget and in impulse buy recovery, so […]


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