If You Watch Football on Thanksgiving, You're Part of the Problem (Updated)

Last November, self-righteous, condescending, and professional internet troll blogger Matt Walsh posted this article entitled, "If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem," and after being picked up by Huffington Post it quickly began making the rounds on Facebook. It's a post decrying the bloated growth of Black Friday to the point where our national day of Thanksgiving could now more accurately be called Black Thanksgiving (coincidentally also the name of my unwritten holiday-themed horror movie), as well as assigning the blame for the moral crumbling of a great American tradition to shoppers looking for a deal. And his views haven't changed given this recent tweet:
 
We live in a country that has a nasty problem with consumerism and debt, and stores being open for big sales on Thanksgiving is really all the evidence you need that the problem is getting worse. But now that we're well into another November, faux concern and anger over this practice is again spreading online, and I can't help but try to illuminate Matt and those who feel the same way he so surely does to the bigger picture that they are clearly missing (or simply choosing not to see). Just because you don't go shopping doesn't mean you're not a part of the same problem you're so seemingly miffed at.

Matt writes:
Capitalism is great, but some things are greater. Family is greater. Yes, these folks choose to work at these stores. Yes, they likely knew when they signed up that they'd be sacrificing their Thanksgivings. Yes, at least they have jobs. Yes, sure, and so what? If that's enough in your mind to justify participating in the destruction of a great American tradition -- good for you. But you COULD wait until Friday, couldn't you? And if you did wait until Friday, and if everyone waited until Friday, no store would ever open on Thanksgiving again, right? So you COULD take steps to protect Thanksgiving from the decay of materialism and consumerism, and, while you're at it, give this wonderful holiday back to the customer service representatives who have been forced to abandon it and cater to the stampeding throngs, right?
An interesting point there, and in light of it I would like to ask Matt, and everyone else who is outraged over stores being open on Thanksgiving, a few questions.

To start: do you watch football on Thanksgiving? Have you ever spent your holiday going to a game? If so, have you ever thought about all the people who have to work to make the game and the broadcast happen? The last game was less than 3 days ago on Monday night - can't you wait until Sunday for another? And if you did wait until Sunday, and if everyone waited til Sunday, no football game would ever be played on Thanksgiving again, right? From parking attendants, to ushers, to security, to food service workers, I'm sure they're all more than happy to give up their Thanksgivings so that you can sit home or in the stadium and enjoy yours more. But it's OK, because football makes the day more bearable and it's tradition, right?

Have you ever been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or watched it on TV? Have you ever thought of the number of extra cops who have to work because of that 4-hour commercial which, by the way, has become a glowing symbol of the very consumerism you have such a problem with? What about all the workers who have to staff the businesses along the parade route? I went to the parade when I was in 7th grade. We took a  Metro-North train into the city, had lunch at McDonald's in Times Square, and froze our asses off. But it's OK, because it's tradition, right?

One of my biggest pet peeves with holidays in general is that once 8PM rolls around, most everything is done with and there's really nothing to do...but you can always go to the movies. Have you ever gone to the movies on Thanksgiving? Do you think the people who sell you your ticket, sell you your snacks, run the projectors, and then clean the theaters are simply not interested in spending time with family and friends? I don't know, but regardless it's OK, because after all nothing says "giving thanks" like catching one of the probably 17 Thanksgiving Day showings of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 at your local Regal, right?

Lots of people consider it a holiday to not have to cook on Thanksgiving. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant on Thanksgiving? Maybe a Denny's. What about gotten coffee at a diner or a drink at a bar with some friends that you don't see very often? Do you think the wait staff and cooks have an aversion to being in close quarters with loved ones, and therefore are cool with working? Maybe it's a family establishment and so it's all good because they're all in it together. I really don't know.

If you are cooking, are you doing it all by candlelight over a campfire in your backyard? I doubt it, which means you're going to be using plenty of electricity and possibly gas, and you must realize that those services simply don't run themselves. Someone has to be manning the system, and someone has to be ready to go into the field to deal with emergencies and outages.

Occasionally when you're in the midst of cooking a meal you realize we forgot to buy something, and Thanksgiving is no different. So what do you do? Go out to the supermarket to grab it? If you couldn't remember the cranberries before the big day can't you just go with out them on the big day? Think of those people working the checkout register.

If you were to call 911, would you expect someone to answer and help to be sent your way? Probably. I have a paramedic friend who has worked Thanksgiving for years, and not because he doesn't like turkey.

What happens when you're on the way to grandma's and you realize your car is running is on empty?

Now of course I'm embellishing the point to drive it home - unfortunately that's what you have to do to compete in the bullshit hyperbolic, absolute "truth teller" world that an internet arbiter like Matt Walsh thrives in. Nuance is for lesser thinkers. This Thanksgiving I might watch football (though I'm not a huge fan), may watch the parade (though I find it kinda boring), and might hit a diner, grab a drink, or see a movie (though probably not The Hunger Games). I doubt I'll call 911, but who the hell knows? I won't be doing any shopping, but I also won't be under the delusion that nothing I do this holiday will have a negative impact on other people. Companies like Wal*Mart who employ workers at low wages and use shady compensation tactics to prevent them from truly making holiday pay should of course be ashamed of themselves, but the emergence of more "open for business" signs on Thanksgiving is merely an extension of a problem in America that has been building for years and years: those who can afford it will have good holidays, and those who cannot will work.

And just like you're so upset about Thanksgiving Day sales, I guarantee that in 10 years you will be flipping a shit if they decided to end them.

Because by that time it would be tradition, right?

Leave a comment

    Add comment

    © STEVE SCHULTZ