A mote back we put up our guide to US holidays for the benefit of people from other countries, so you can tell whether your American staff need the day off or not. But one day got left off the calendar because it's such a new concept that has yet to be fully recognized. That day is Amazon Prime Day. It's a new kind of "holiday" being pushed by Amazon as a kind of Internet shopping festival.
This year, they even decided to do a full blowout by having a "Prime Day Concert 2019" hosted from the Hammersmith Ballroom in New York City. It was broadcast on Amazon Prime Video and headlined Taylor Swift, among many celebrity guests.
It's a good time to step back and ask: What's happening here? Can a corporation, with no other cultural anchor point, force a holiday into existence? Well, while this sounds like a portent of cyberpunk mega-corp behavior, the commercial impetus for holidays actually goes back much farther than you'd think.
A Brief History Of Corporate-Fired Holidays
Just about every "National $X Day" you can name was started by a company associated with that product. "National Pancake Day" was started by - wait for it - IHOP (International House of Pancakes). "Small Business Saturday" was started by American Express credit card company. We have Hallmark, the greeting card company, to thank for a whole category of invented Hallmark holidays, including Grandparents' Day, Secretary's Day, and even International Women's Day.
Not to mention the corporate influence over traditional holidays. After all, the Thanksgiving Day parade we all watch on TV every year is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as in the department store. As for Coca-Cola and Santa Claus, the rumor about Coke creating Santa is false, but they did help shape his modern conception.
It's common for companies to step back and innocently deny the power to conjure holidays out of thin air. Yeah, OK, but seriously… If you run a greeting card company and somebody comes up with a new holiday, of course, you're going to boost the idea of that annual event because it helps you sell cards, duh. Amazon is just taking the bold move of cutting out the middle man this time.
Why I'm Actually OK With This
In the United States, we have a big gap in the calendar. Normally, we'd be celebrating Midsummer in some form or another the way it's observed all over the rest of the world. We don't. Somehow this particular holiday dodged the typical Pagan cultural theft and re-skin treatment. We have Independence Day, July 4th, which slots in almost as a perfect substitute.
But anyway, we could use a Midsummer festival-type day to perk up those summer doldrums. In America, summer is a long, hot slog from the played-down Hallmark holidays of mother's and father's days, a brief fit of frivolity on July 4th, and then pretty much dead air until Halloween rolls around. There are some minor observances in there, including Ren-Faire season, but really nothing major. Meanwhile, the other side of our calendar is crammed with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's all bombarding you at once. The American calendar is lopsided.
We all need to come together and demand a mid-summer festival of some kind, just to kill this July-through-September ennui. Hey, how about it, kids? We can't get the United States to come together to save its own neck these days, but when it comes to excuses to party, everybody suddenly forgets their political rivalry and hops on the bandwagon. This is how we're getting pot legalized.
I For One Welcome Our New Corporate Overlords
There's no irony there. Amazon is huge, yes, too big for its own good, yes, and an oppressively large retail near-monopoly. Modern generations quail at that statement like scared mice, but when you come to look at it, the history of Western civilization is told largely through giant corporations that monopolized that era due to new technology finding its place.
This has to happen! Without a corporate shepherd ushering in new innovation, the innovation never takes hold and we go back to being lice-haired scavenging savages gnawing rat bones in our cave. Just look at the record of great monopolies in history:
- The Salt Commission - Tang dynasty China monopolized salt of all things, but salt was also necessary to preserve meat during that time. This helped feed people and promoted wider trade and exploration because salt pork travels well.
- US Steel - Granted, an oppressive monopoly, but you know what it gave us? New York's skyline.
- AT&T - Before they got broken up, telecommunications spread thanks to them. The computer and Internet age rode in on their backs. Honestly, the antitrust action against AT&T was premature to my eyes, and yes, I'll fight on that hill.
- Monsanto - Granted they control a huge chunk of the agriculture market, but you know what else they've done? Helped feed us!
- Google - Currently not argued as a monopoly as such, which just goes to show. There are enough people sore about Google anyway, so you could argue it that way. Nevertheless, the World Wide Web opened up with the advent of Google. It ushered in the age of blogging and web entrepreneurship. Google may yet go down for antitrust, but it won't erase their accomplishments.
Now, you're probably saying "Why is this guy kissing so much corporate butt?" I'm usually the pinko-liberal, right? The fact is, this dumb knee-jerk corporate hate has got to stop. I never subscribed to it. In a Capitalist society where nobody cares about anything unless it makes them a buck, no innovation or progress happens at all without a company riding its back in a wave of profits.
In Network's name, we pray, amen:
When you can get a co-op hippie commune to spur technology progress and bring it to every neighborhood cheaply, count me in on your anti-corporate bandwagon. Until then, it's corporate monopolies or starve to death in the snow. I'll take the monopolies.
Need Some Amazon Shopping Guides?
Are you all fired up for Amazon Prime Day now, kiddies? I can't heeeeaaar you!
That's better! Fortunately, we 123ish hacks have a long history of creating product guides and reviews that just so happen to be great jumping-off points to link you to Prime Day savings, and incidentally, help support this site so we can keep posting funny stuff by screwballs like the Present Author. Here, look, click:
- The Best Desktop Toys For Killing Office Boredom
- The Biggest and Best Lego Sets Ever
- Best Magic! the Gathering Sealed Products
- How To Build An EDH Deck For Magic: The Gathering
Plenty more where that came from. And hey, when are we getting an "International Blogger's Day"? Huh hallmark? HUH???