The Second Christmas


Checking out the junk flyers for electronic stores like Best Buy and Future Shop this past weekend (I confess, I enjoy looking at these and fantasizing having money enough to buy the gadgets), I notice that both flyers feature high definition television sets and home theatre installations prominently, with pictures of football players in various action poses.

Oh, yes, I think: it’s Super Bowl season.

But wait a minute, I think: isn’t the Super Bowl next Sunday?

Ah, say my second thoughts (or is that third thoughts?): Best Buy and Future Shop probably figure that it will take about a week to deliver and install these devices. The idea that someone could take delivery of one of these units early on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon and have the thing done in time for the Super Bowl is probably worth also purchasing a camcorder in order to record the rising frustration and increasing desperation and market the tape as a breakthrough new comic documentary.

And that’s when it hits me: electronic stores like Best Buy and Future Shop are relying on Super Bowl Sunday to move a lot of equipment — just one month after Christmas (wherein this equipment also features heavily on the seasonal flyers) and the stores are already desperate to make a mint on people hoping to upgrade their home entertainment centres.

And I’m forced to ask: who are all these people that Best Buy and Future Shop profit from?

Can there actually be that much demand for such high priced equipment?

As these things go, these pieces of equipment are among the most conspicuous of conspicuous consumption. “Hey, look at me! I have money enough to buy a big plasma display and invite you guys over to watch 300 pound men toss an oblong leather ball around while you guys grovel at my feet and in the cheese doodles!” And a great part of me doubts that these consumers are paying cash in hand. Also prominent on these flyers are financing deals — easy payments over two years. So, how many people are going into debt just for a larger view of a football game?

Maybe I’m speaking with the ex-smoker’s vigour against smoking. Since cutting cable, I simply do not see television as anything more than a luxury. For a parent with a two-year-old daughter, the aerial reception of TVO Kids and various DVDs are all the television we need. But I can’t help but feel a little sad for those people who spend two years worth of money, just for three hours worth of happiness.

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