Why not boycott the NFL?
I saw this Tweet today and, while I don’t completely agree that “Black Friday is a ‘feminine’ Super Bowl,” it did lead me to think about the left’s priorities… Black Friday is, without a doubt, a fairly horrid phenomenon in the U.S. (now extended into Canada), wherein consumer culture, corporate greed, and anti-labour practices collide. The holiday tradition of over-consumption, beginning on Black Friday and ending at Boxing
Day Week in a mountain of things and post-holiday depression, led Adbusters to attach itself to the promotion of “Buy Nothing Day,” which takes place the day after American Thanksgiving.
There are a number of smart critiques of Buy Nothing Day (and, more generally, Adbusters‘ focus on consumption and it’s branding of non-consumption) and, while I appreciate the efforts of individuals to avoid participating in the buying frenzy that surrounds the holidays, I find some of these boycotts and actions to be overly simplistic as well as conveniently lacking in gender (and, in fact, class) analysis.
When I think of the anti-consumerist movement, I think about white men. The notion of “not buying” on one particular day strikes me as something that’s fairly easy to do so long as you don’t need anything (food, diapers, whatever). Busy, overworked people — particularly those with families — may or may not have the luxury of picking the days upon which they spend money. It’s relevant to note, also, that for single mothers (and, really, mothers in general — single or not), this “consumption” will rest solely on their shoulders, whether it’s buying gifts for the kids or groceries for dinner. How nice that a bunch of “radical” white men have invented a form of activism that completely ignores the realities of many women’s lives. Women, I suppose, should feel guilty for perpetuating capitalism and consumer culture because they had to use their days off to do their Christmas/grocery shopping. If Kalle Lasn can avoid the mall, we all should!
Beyond the fact that Buy Nothing Day is both a classist and sexist invention, I find it interesting that certain factions of the left focus so much on Black Friday and on consumption around the holidays, but conveniently ignore the sexist, capitalist, violent, ridiculousness that is the Super Bowl — a decidedly male-centered celebration. Watching professional football is now a tradition intricately tied to American Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl, specifically, is basically a holiday for men.
I’m not anti-sport. Yes, I’d rather stare at the wall than watch sports on TV, but I understand that others enjoy watching, and that’s fine. But the NFL is not merely about sport. It’s about profit and it’s about advertisers. And it is, therefore, about consumption. And not just the consumption of products, but the consumption of women’s bodies. Check out these Super Bowl classics:
Oh, and let’s not forget about the decorative ladies required for “sports.”
M.I.A. gets it, calling the Super Bowl “a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money, [and] a massive display of powerful corporation d–k shaking”
So why does a violent, sexist, franchise that exists for men and is primarily about corporate profit get a pass while shopping doesn’t? Oh right. Dude culture.
It isn’t complicated. The Super Bowl is about celebrating masculine culture, corporate profit, and objectifying women. At least the holidays are for men and women.
I’m not completely mean and no fun. And I’m certainly not defending a holiday that celebrates both colonialism and consumerism all at once. I’m also not literally asking that all you men to stop watching football if you enjoy such banalities; but I am asking that, in your efforts to fake activism, don’t throw women and the working class under the bus. If you can manage to get all up in arms about shopping, you can also manage to muster some energy for commentary around the corporate greed and sexism that is very much a part of the NFL and the Super Bowl.