"Black Friday Is Obscene And Needs To Die"

SF Gate columnist Mark Morford hates Black Friday, and he’s written an over-the-top Network-style screed against it, backing it up with some cringe-inducing YouTube clips of giddy, running Americans swarming into retail outlets last Friday morning.

I don’t even know what Kohl’s is. I’m guessing some sort of mass-crap superstore, like Best Buy or Target or T.J. Maxx or a weird amalgam of all of those and it doesn’t really matter because last Friday they opened at 4 a.m. for the mad rush of Black Friday shoppers, because if there’s one thing you want to do when your body is groggy and sleep tugs at your heart and your dreams have turned vacant and sad, it’s grope cheap waffle makers before sunrise.

In the second half, Morford draws a loose connection between America’s overwhelming consumerism and our hunger for oil, which is now leading petroleum companies to develop environmentally damaging bitumen extraction refineries in Canada in order to produce synthetic crude.

Until there’s a profound shift in how we approach the world, in how we view the goods we buy, in how Black Friday and the rape of Canada are grossly, inextricably connected, we cannot effect much change. Much as I love the green movement and the Buy Nothing movement and the Slow Food movement and all the rest, in the face of the countless billions still to be made by raping the planet for oil, they’re merely the equivalent of trying to water the rainforest with an eyedropper.

“Black Friday Die Die Die” [SF Gate]
(Photo: Associated Press)


Edit Your Comment

  1. smitty1123 says:

    Wow. Thank you Mark Morford for proving South Park was right again.

  2. surgesilk says:

    Somebody woke up with a turkey tummy ache!

  3. sethom says:

    Oh well.

  4. mexifelio says:

    Ooooh, I wish that lady in the photo was shopping for me!

  5. Bladefist says:

    If you dont like black friday, sit at home and watch tv like I did. I used to go out shopping on black friday and now I don’t. I win.

  6. yagisencho says:

    Black Friday shopping celebrates the worst in us. It turns us into selfish, short-sighted, lizard-brained, cattle in the slaughter house, slot machine zombie, stupid, wasteful apes.

    And yes, it really does require energy to support this system. And tar sand mining’s impact on the environment is a very real issue:

    “Most tar sands production takes place in vast open-pit mines, some as large as 150 square kilometers and as deep as 90 meters. Before strip-mining can begin, the boreal forest must be clear-cut, rivers and streams diverted, and wetlands drained. The overburden (the soil, rocks, and clay overlying the tar sands deposit) must be stripped away and stockpiled to reach the bitumen.”


  7. sonichghog says:

    WOW, he does not even know what Kohl’s is, but he does not like it.

    Yeym how about writing about something you know….

    Kohl’s is NOTHING like walmart or target or Best buy. Well, unless by “like” you mean you pay money for goods there.

    This guy really needs to do some research as well. Many “mom and pop” stores open early too, and have big sales that day.

  8. forever_knight says:

    i think his “dinnermate” has it all wrong. wal-mart will thrive because people will continue to drive to the walmart even if gas is expensive. why? why to save money of course!

    the problem is still the same: short sighted idiots that think “i want to save money!” instead of “what the hell is supporting this giant doing to this country?”.

    we have become spoiled by this lifestyle. it will be painful when it changes so drastically.

  9. LTS! says:

    Journalists suck. Nothing more important to write about, but they need to write something, so they create drivel like this.

    Worse yet, it’s posted here.

    If you don’t like Black Friday, or the way your fellow Americans choose to spend their time then get the hell out of the United States. Free will is not stifled in this country and if people want to get up at 2am to shop and someone is willing to oblige them who cares?

  10. seanism says:

    Kohls is more or less like Target/TJ Maxx. It’s a department store. From Wikipedia….

    “Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE: KSS) is an American department store chain…”

    “In the United States, companies such as Macy’s, Gottschalks, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Sears, and J.C. Penney are considered department stores, while retail brands such as Toys “R” Us, Target, Kmart, and Wal-Mart are discount department stores.”

    All those stores excluding Best Buy are in the same category more or less.

  11. The Stork says:

    @LTS!: Commenters suck. Nothing more important to write about, but they need to write something, so they create drivel like this.

    Worse yet, it’s posted here.

    If you don’t like the fact that people have opinions that don’t jive with yours, or the way that other Americans may have ideals that rise above the desire for cheap crap, then get the hell out of the United States. Free will is not stifled in this country and if people want to complain about how Americans seem to put the race to have the most random junk ahead of their fellow man who cares?

  12. Balisong says:

    @LTS!: Yes sir/ma’am! Just let me switch my spare million over to my swiss account and I’ll speed over to my condo in Paris.

  13. yagisencho says:

    Kohl’s basically the same as Mervyn’s / Mervyn’s California (and in fact are taking over many of the Mervyn’s store properties). They’re basically a smaller JC Penny or Sears without hardware or appliances. In my opinion, they’re bland and superfluous.

  14. sonichghog says:

    @seanism: Go into one. Its not like target or walmart.

  15. jenl1625 says:

    Actually, in terms of store hours on Black Friday in central Ohio, it’s worse than 4 a.m. openings. The Jeffersonville outlet mall opened at midnight so that you could get in a couple of hours of shopping there, then drive the 60ish miles to the Kohl’s in Columbus or Cincinnati . . . .

    But while I find that ridiculous, I don’t see how everybody running into the stores at one particular time on one particular day is the end of civilization as we know it.

  16. uricmu says:

    This year the good BF deals were online anyway.

  17. fluiddruid says:

    Please. How many Americans actually participated in the early morning rush? I didn’t. Normally I don’t even shop on Black Friday, but I did briefly emerge from my pie-related stupor to shamble over to Target to get an LCD monitor … which I actually needed and had been waiting for holiday sales to purchase. I guess that means that I worship capitalist spending and gas-guzzling SUVs and buy tens of thousands of things I don’tneedonmycreditcardthatIcan’taffordtopayandohGodI’mdestroyingAmericablashfashashajsajas!!!!!!

  18. SeraSera says:

    Mark Morford is always such a whiner.

  19. reykjavik says:

    @sonichghog: I think you’ve missed the point.

  20. clickertrainer says:

    Someday I am going to write a column ranting about snobby “BAP-ers” (Bay Area Persons).

    Wal-mart might not be my favorite store, or yours, but for a lady I know living in Wyoming on $14K/year, it’s a life-saver. We don’t all have the shopping opportunities and income of BAP-ers.

  21. Kishi says:

    They should make sure this guy doesn’t find out about the malls in Salt Lake City that opened at 12:01.

  22. jamesdenver says:


    Hey guess what. As an American I and Mark can opine in any way we see fit.

    Hell if Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormon’s can come to my door preaching their gospel – I’ll preach my gospel of living simply and reducing my consumption. Oh and buying things of actual quality – not cheap plastic shit.

  23. Sam says:

    An article about consumerism appearing on The Consumerist? How awful!

  24. seanism says:

    I was inside one a while ago. I guess the inside is different then Target but from what I remember they had similiar types of items. More brand names for clothing though. Like someone above mentioned its really like a Sears without the appliances.

  25. goller321 says:

    I find it amusing that when the mirror is turned on Americans, they whine and cry like little bitches. For the people expounding on how pathetic the journalist must be, how about you take the time to digest exactly what he’s saying. If there is any “un-truthes” in his column, please point them out.

    I like a deal as much as the next person, however, he is 100% right. Black-Friday does bring out the worst in America, and showboats many of our worst features. From our unsustainable consumer driven economy to the reality that we are helping wreck our planet for cheap throw-away crap. We demand these low prices, and in doing so, ship jobs over seas, sell ourselves to countries like China and perpetuate human rights violations across the globe.

    So quit being so defensive and take a good look in the mirror.

  26. kellyd says:

    Mark Morford rocks.

  27. RAREBREED says:

    Mark Morford’s hilarious! I read that this morning and was laughing… some people need to stop being so defensive and LAUGH, because it’s TRUE!

  28. bwohlgemuth says:

    I wonder what the riots would be like if every coffee shop in the greater SF area shut down for a few days….

    We’re all consumers, some people like waffle irons, some people like lattes. You only stop consuming when you are dead (which some people would prefer….)

  29. goller321 says:

    @clickertrainer: That woman living on $14000 a year is doing so because of WalMart- and companies like them. They have depressed our income in this country greatly. WalMart not only pays crap to it’s employees’, they mooch off government coffers for insurance for their low earning employees, and help to ship manufacturing jobs overseas.
    They get those low prices by forcing companies to lower their prices, and in doing so they often must outsource to accomplish this. Companies like Jocket, Rubbermaid and Huffy all have been outsourced thanks to WalMart. This is all great for the upper 10% of the country, but it sucks for the rest of us. I for one do not shop at WalMart.

  30. MsClear says:

    This article is totally right on, but counterproductive, because as someone astutely said, Americans “whine like little bitches” whenever this comes up.

  31. Oneon1isto says:

    Is he a comedian or what? His hyperbole’s a little too over the top to have any actual impact. My eyes glazed over at around the point where I read about dolphins transporting Walmart goods. Good God man, lighten up.

    The Black Friday thing is nothing new. Put people in large enough groups and stupidity generally arrises from the best of the bunch. I bet we acted the same when we were foragers and a new patch of berries popped up out of the blue. Feeding frenzy!

  32. anonymouscoworker says:


    Bravo to the both of you. I couldn’t have said it better.

  33. quail says:

    Yep. I got it. Black Friday bad. Now on to other matters.

  34. bravo369 says:

    I personally cringed at all the mobs I saw on black friday. Then they complain that sales went down on all days after black friday. How about you run the sales for the entire weekend and not for just 2 hours before 8am. They are just asking for a mob mentality from their shoppers. You just finished giving Thanks during dinner with the family and you turn around and kick and claw each other…all for a stupid tv or laptop. it’s sad…it really is

  35. Oneon1isto says:

    @goller321: Did you ever stop to consider that the extremely low prices offered by Walmart actually benefit everyone else who doesn’t work at Walmart, which is the majority of the poor!

    Consider that consumer goods are the primary cost of people at/around the poverty level besides rent and transportation. And who pulls down the price of consumer goods? Oh that’s right. Walmart does. So besides the small percentage of poor who work at Walmart, who are they hurting again?

  36. cornish says:

    @Bladefist: Or, you could just go to work instead. Either way, problem solved.

  37. smitty1123 says:

    @Oneon1isto: You take your rational thought and get out of here. There’s a Wal-Mart what needs a lynchn’!

  38. clickertrainer says:

    She lives on what she makes working on the family ranch. Help support her — have a steak tonight. ;)

    I do not shop at Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target either, but I understand if others feel they must.

    Question, though: what is local? If the bolt I need from the neighborhood, locally-owned hardware store is from China, isn’t that just as bad as buying it for less at Lowes? While I’m supporting the local hardware guy, I’m also supporting moving bolt production out of my country.

    I’m just not certain this is a local/non-local, small guy/big box question. I don’t think it ever was.

  39. goller321 says:

    @Oneon1isto: Did you not read anything I wrote? Or are you COMPLETELY obtuse? They don’t profit ANYONE in the long run. They have exacerbated and accelerated the outsourcing of our country’s manufacturing jobs. So instead of the $14/hr job they could have had working at Master Lock, they now get $7 at WalMart, or any of the other low paying service industry jobs that have become the mainstay of out lowish unemployment rate. Add to that the “increasing of efficiency” (ie. down-sizing) that are forced onto companies dealing with WalMart and even secondary companies like US textile companies that loose the business of companies dealing with WalMart. This of course does not even mention that to compete, other retailers are forced into the same business model to survive. Prime example- Lands End. A company that was US made until they were bought out and retooled to import all their crap. So the REASON that we have so many poor is because of WalMart and companies like them- and people like you that support that business model.

    And BTW, the “small percentage” working there, I’m sure say thanks for your consideration and empathy….

  40. goller321 says:

    @clickertrainer: The reason for the bolt at the local store being from China is BECAUSE of WalMart and companies like the (Home Depot for example.) So why reward the bastard-execs at WalMart for selling our country’s middle-class out? What made the US different and successful was the middle-class, thanks to WalMart and alike, that is disappearing.

  41. ancientsociety says:

    What a curmudgeon!

    Unfortunately, even though it’s over-the-top, the basic points of this article are spot on. BF brings out the worst in us – materialism, mob mentality, the degradation of the economy and environment, etc. – and all of it right after a holiday meant to celebrate the antithesis of all that junk.

  42. goller321 says:

    @ancientsociety: Now THTA was well put!

  43. Oneon1isto says:

    @goller321: The “small percentage” that will be thanking me can join in with the hundreds of thousands of minimum wage-making (now that it was raised) $7 an hour retail workers that have always made total crap. Walmart’s wages are nothing new in the world of retail.

    And I’ll bite and admit I was a bit obtuse in not recognizing your issues revolve around outsourcing and its ill effects. While my issues with outsourcing are different (I think businesses lose alot by outsourcing, first and foremost in customer service) I don’t buy your argument that outsourcing has depressed wages. Yes, we’ve pushed manufacturing overseas, but what of it? Except for a few major industrial manufacturing centers (Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc.) much of our economy has made the shift over to the service sector. Unemployment is at record lows and Americans are making more than ever.

    In response, you could quote the recent surveys showing that even while wages are rising the space between the rich and poor is widening to throw a wrench in my wheels, but I really don’t think loss of the middle class is at fault because we have less factory workers. Hell, has factory work ever been the job of choice, or the realm of the middle class?

    Here’s a thought: if we moved all factory work over primarily to robotics, would you still have an issue? I mean, there would be less factory jobs right? Americans moved away from factory work and pushed it on others of their own volition, because it was better for us in the long run. And you’ll see, wages will rise in China and India because of their own burgeoning business sectors, and we’ll have to move labor back here or somewhere else.

    Damn this is getting long and it’s a complex issue.

    We’re both right in some way and I’m done. By the way, you’re talking to a fan of the Nickel and Dimed book here, not some heathen evil capitalist.

  44. @kellyd: Yes. He does.

  45. DrGirlfriend says:

    @ancientsociety: I feel that way as well. It’s too bad he chose to deliver his point in such a hysterical manner, because it effectively overshadowed what he’s trying to say.

  46. dasunst3r says:

    One of my friends camped out in front of a Fry’s Electronics at noon on Thanksgiving Day. The next time I heard from him was the time he said “never again.” Thank Goodness he learned his lesson.

    I, for one, shopped online on the basis that I cannot put a price tag on my health and sanity.

  47. LucyInTheSky says:

    christ almighty. i watched those videos. i am hiding in my closet all day next year.

  48. mthrndr says:

    Yeah. This is why ‘they’ hate us. Yeah. See, when ‘they’ are trampled to death, it’s because they are trying to stone a fake devil during Hajj. So, yeah. hate us.

  49. mthrndr says:

    Oh, and stop comparing everything to oil.

  50. EtherealStrife says:

    I needed a laptop and I was just about due for a night under the stars. Two birds and all that. For the $$ I forked over the best I could do on any other day would be a celeron. I did not have work in the 2pm thurs – ~7am fri slot so my time had no monetary value, unless you count the insane savings. And I think carpooling filled my green quota for the day. :-P

    @sonichghog: Yup this guy’s an idiot. Don’t know what Kohl’s is? JFGI, or see the light of day once in awhile.

    @dasunst3r: Fry’s is the worst on black friday. A couple years ago I showed up right when they were opening the doors and was let in before everyone in line.

  51. iamme99 says:

    ha ha. It’s good to see that Mark Morford stirs up the crowd no matter where he is mentioned. I really like his columns (although he has been focused on Bushco for a little too long now). So It’s good to see him spreading his wings a bit.

    His columns appear Wed & Fri in the SF Chronicle. If he writes something way over the top, you can count on the letters appearing demanding his head on a pike contrasted against those saying he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  52. burgundyyears says:

    What a sourpuss. Just your typical misanthrope, picking on what he perceives as the antics of others to detract from his own profound hatred of himself. I’m just glad he dines only on rarified air, expels only sweet perfume, and needs not to deign to the commoners’ *gasp* level of existence.

  53. goller321 says:

    @Oneon1isto: The middle class was started by manufacturing. Do know any history??? It has affected EVERY corner of our country- from Milwaukee (which lost Master Lock, AO Smith, Allis Chalmers, etc.) to small areas like Nicholas County, Kentucky (Jockey underwear plant- which BTW is now one of the poorest areas in the country.) Not just the big meccas of industry.

    These jobs paid MUCH higher wages than service industry jobs- so if you replace low paying jobs with higher paying jobs what is the result??? Americans are not earning more than ever. From 2003 to 2006, factoring in inflation, Americans earned 2% less than the three years earlier. Also consider that in the 70’s, the average wage was ~$15/hr, in 2000 that number was ~$18/hr. Taking into account inflation, we are by no means earning more now than then. But that also doesn’t account for the over 100 million people in the US without college educations (the people now relegated to the service industry) who have seen substantial DECREASES in their pay from the 70’s to today.

    Since I was born and raised in a manufacturing city, I will tell you that YES, MANUFACTURING HAS BEEN THE CRUX OF THE MIDDLE CLASS! It was a very desired job in A LOT of communities. You must lead a very sheltered life not to know any of this.

    I mean this not as a dig, but as an observation, but I really think you’re misinformed about much of the reality of manufacturing in the US. “Americans” didn’t move away from manufacturing- the wealthy took manufacturing away from us, so they could make more profits. It has only benefited the few at the top- you know that small number of people that saw their income raise buy over 400% since the 80’s… corporate execs… A direct comparison goes like this… In 1980, execs averaged about 26 times the pay of the average worker. That number has reached over 500 times the average worker in today’s market. So there is a DIRECT correlation between outsourcing and the poor in America…

  54. goller321 says:

    @mthrndr: Why wouldn’t you compare it to oil? Let’s connect the dots here…

    Didn’t Bush tell us it was our duty, that we owed it to the victims of 9/11 to go out a spend???
    And of course it was Iraq that was behind 9/11 (according to Dick and Bush) so we invaded them… for oil. There nice and neat.

  55. iamme99 says:

    Speaking of Bush:

    How to start each day with a positive outlook:

    1. Open a new file in your PC.
    2. Name it “George Bush”.
    3. Send it to the trash.
    4. Empty the trash.
    5. Your PC will ask you, “Do you really want to get rid of George Bush?”
    6. Answer calmly, “yes,” and press the mouse button firmly.
    7. Repeat daily.

  56. z1rdarryl says:

    Look If you Dont want to go shopping on black friday thats fine.
    Then you should stay home.
    But The way I see it is Black friday forces the stores to try offer the best price.
    I did most of my shopping Black friday and got GREAT DEALS.
    Because of Black friday my family is going to have better preasents.

  57. whitjm5 says:


    Classic economic theory (see Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, invisible hand, etc.) suggests that we should be handing off tasks to those who have an advantage in doing them. Many Asian countries are densely populated and can produce things much cheaper (and sometimes better) than we can. I realize that not everyone laid off from outsourced factory jobs is going to be a business tycoon, but I believe most Americans are capable of realizing more potential than low-wage factory work. As much as my parents may not like it, gone are the days of 30 years working on an assembly line for a pension. Fact is, we live in a global economy and Americans CANNOT compete with many other countries on per hour manual labor costs. We’re going to have to evolve. Those individuals/organizations that don’t will be left behind. As I’m preparing to again enter the labor market, I’m finding that without a college degree, one is severely limited in their options. Should I stand and complain that all the work is being taken by college graduates? I could, but it would be futile. Rather, I’m working on my degree and plan to start on my MBA immediately after my BSBA. We’re an entepreneurial nation and I’m hoping many Americans will wake up to this fact and take the bull by the horns rather than complaining that things “aren’t the way they used to be.” I could write a lot more, but I won’t. Just know that I’m from low/middle class America (Central KY) and I understand where you’re coming from. Please consider the points I’ve made, too.

  58. hamlet says:

    This guy is an idiot. He does not live in the real world. I wish I had plenty of money so that I didn’t have to shop at “mass-crap” stores. People like him take up too much of our oxygen. Go away!!!

    P.S. I love Black Friday. I always get awesome deals!

  59. Ben Popken says:

    San Francisco: We’re angry and we have no idea what we’re talking about!

  60. ChrisPC24 says:

    He hate’s Kohl’s for opening at 4AM? Good thing he didn’t know about CompUSA; they opened at 9PM the night before!

    If he actually learned what Kohl’s is, he’d probably like it. It was founded by the family of a Democratic Senator from WI, Senator Herb Kohl.

  61. goller321 says:

    @whitjm5: I consider your points, but the problem with “free market” theory and other economic theories are that they simply do not apply or take into account real people. Why are Asia countries able to produce for so much less? Because the workers are forced to work at slave wages in unsafe working conditions.
    The notion of a “global economy” only serves the elites of the world. The people doing the actual work, whether it be the children’s sweat shops or the fruit pickers out in the field never see the true benefits that their labor provide. NAFTA, CAFTA and other such trade agreements only work well for the executive prospering from the misery the bring to the lower classes.
    We, as a nation, by shopping at WalMart not only condone this practice but financially support it. If Americans wanted to do something about it we could. “Gone are the days” only because most people are too stupid, or short sighted to see that our government has sold us out to the corporations that buy their votes.
    As for the realizing more than, it is not as easy as it sounds. Firstly, not everyone is cut out for college, second college is fast becoming unaffordable and finally those service sector jobs will start drying up real fast, leaving even more people out in the cold. The only reason we haven’t gone into a recession yet is because we continue to live on credit. Like the housing market, that will implode on itself and we will be shown what a country without manufacturing really looks like.

  62. goller321 says:

    @hamlet: Again… missing the point. Most of those “deals” you find are often unnecessary purchases. We have become a materialistic society, it’s too bad you’re too self involved to take an introspective look at yourself. Personally, I wish people like you would stop using the air…

  63. rugger11 says:

    @GOLLER321: When you make your points in a hysterical, over-the-top, demonizing manner, you OF COURSE put people on the defensive. People will not even consider changing the way they do things if you yell at them and demean them. This is what you and more particularly, the author of this article are doing.

  64. Oneon1isto says:

    @goller321: I typed out a massive response and then just sighed and hit “delete”.

    Considering that the US used to be economically supported by the industrial revolution and now supports a larger population at a higher cost of living and with all the trimmings (low infant mortality, low unemployment, etc.) we’re doing fairly well with the shift I’d say.

    Like WhitJM5 stated, you’re fighting relative advantage between countries, that in the long run produces far more jobs.

    And you lost me when you started spouting the “government has sold us out to the corporations that buy their votes.” That’s another argument entirely, and one that kinda outs you as a tad angry. Corporate lobbies are but one piece of the many forces that drive legislative decision making, and pale in comparison to many social lobbies and Unions (read: LABOR UNIONS). Unless a group of corporations bands together and pushes lots of PAC funds directly into a candidates re-election coffer, you’re unlikely to see the amount of influence you believe is there.

  65. whitjm5 says:


    Thank you for the well thought out response. I won’t argue too strongly against what you’ve said because I’m still learning a lot about economics myself. In Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat”, he points to call centers in Asia where college students take those jobs to get a leg-up in their societies. Obviously, I find slave and child labor disgusting practices, so I’m not arguing for that. Let’s imagine though, that without a college degree or experience, you decide to try your hand at owning a business (many have done this with great success). You buy & re-sell widgets in your local community. Are you going to buy widgets in the US where you only see profits of $2 per widget or from Central America where you can realize $5 profit per widget? Generic example, I know, but bear with me. As long as their is an opportunity for profit, there will ALWAYS be different classes of people. The good thing about a free society and capitalism is that I can be a lower/middle class boy from Kentucky and still move my way up. In a socialistic society, there is no opportunity for upward mobility, no incentive to produce or contribute as a member of society. I don’t hear you really arguing for that type of system, but you seem to rail against capitalism withou proposing better alternatives. FTR, I HATE when corporations or whomever takes advantage of the ‘little guy’ and I agree that America’s dependency on credit in order to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ may ruin us. Thanks for the dialogue.