The Christmas Crazy Target Lady: Official Symbol of Black Friday

The Christmas Crazy Target Lady

Cupid symbolizes Valentine’s Day. Easter has its Bunny.

And now its official: The Crazy Target Lady is Black Friday.

Since 2009, Target has well-targeted those shoppers anticipating the big holiday sales who skip Thanksgiving to stand in line for upwards of three days so they can be close to the front of a waiting line of consumers ready to pounce on purchases there, when it opens in the wee hours of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. They’ve done it well, yet again, with commercials featuring a character the store calls “Christmas Champ,” but who’s more famously known worldwide as the “Christmas Crazy Target Lady” – or Crazy Target Lady, for short. Here’s one that says it all:

The lady in red is a familiar sort, with that compulsive fetish to produce the perfect Holiday Season, insanely frantic to get started on Black Friday by buying. Buying holiday gifts for loved ones, buying holiday gifts for hated ones, buying holiday gifts for themselves, buying holiday cards, holiday decorations, holiday goods to make holiday things.

The 2011 series manage to top the brilliant 2010 roster, more artful than ever. Here’s another:

Christmas Crazy

Even if you haven’t seen The Crazy Target Lady, you’ve come across her Archetype on television.

She’s a cross between the deadly determination of Martha Stewart to unerringly engineer mistletoe-stenciled napkins and the high-strung sales pitch of QVC chatterbox hostesses giddy about cute snowman mugs:

One gets the impression that these types find that getting ready for the holidays is better than the actual holidays. Any trace of tragic undertone to that reality, however is entirely wiped away regarding The Crazy Target Lady because she’s not only genuinely, passionately excited but can also laugh with us at herself:

Holidays evolve with their own natural velocity, shaped by the times in which people have some need to define them. In one of my screenplays, Becoming Mrs. Claus, a small piece involved a mythology I crafted for “First Shopping Day.” Carolyn Claus, the outgoing Mrs. Santa, had struck a deal with Coca Cola to license her husband’s image so she could save Christmas during the Great Depression but as she kept contracting with department stores and other consumer outlets, she was under pressure to deliver bigger sales every Black Friday to help sustain the global economy.

That fable is actually set in 1945, but today society seems less expectant of women to get so insane about Christmas – unless they really want to. And maybe that’s one reason why The Crazy Target Lady is such brilliant satire – because she’s actually choosing to be this way and it doesn’t appear she has to.

In the context of current culture, its even more biting. Perhaps its a grand distraction from her beautiful gingerbread house being in mortgage foreclosure – she doesn’t seem to work or do anything else except anticipate Black Friday and make cutesy Christmas doodads. Nor do we ever see what she buys in Target, nor what it costs her at the cash register.  Yet while she may seem to be a caricature of capitalism and marketing, there’s no proof she’s using a high-interest Bank of America credit card. She’s got no kids, no husband. She talks to ornaments and her friends are gingerbread people:

There’s a second reason The Crazy Target Lady Black Friday ads are brilliant – the creative vision and spare words of some great advertising agency writers.

Maria Bamford in performance.

The biggest reason of all is the genius talent of the actor who created the role. Her real name is Maria Bamford. She’s a native Minnesotan, a hard-working standup comedian, companion to two pugs and advocate for rescue dog adoption.  She’s had her own web series, develops distinct characters and monologues them simultaneously in the tradition of early 20th century Ruth Draper. Bamford performs all over the country. Everyone should go see her and support her so she can chose to spend her life getting ready for Christmas – only if she want to, of course. Here’s her website: http://www.mariabamford.com/

The only contention to be found in all this is the unofficial name of this day, which is increasingly becoming official.

The term “Black Friday” originally referred to a Wall Street panic and economic deflation during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877), with the use of  “black” meaning “dark” and “doomed” not “profit.”  Today, “Black Friday” references the expression “in the black,” as in profit. Which explains why it would be deadly to call it “Red Friday” despite it being the kickoff to holiday sales. “Black Friday” is put to better use for the one that’s called “Good Friday,” which seems to be the most wrongly-named day of all, if you remember that story.

Alright, the best is last:

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2 replies »

  1. Hilarious! And so true! I know lots of people like this… Ugh. It’s almost as if Thanksgiving itself is nothing more than a necessary precursor to the real action… BLACK FRIDAY! And, now, it’s even flooded into Thursday, itself. Oh well, the commercials are very clever and very funny.

    Your screenplay sounds great! I want to see the movie! Have you had it picked up yet? Good luck with it!

    All the best and Happy Thanksgiving,

    Jake

    • Hey Jake – so sorry for such a long delay and glad you’re able to access the blog again….its just so odd seeing Occupy Wall Street news and all the anti-corporate sentiment across every website…and then people perhaps maxed on plastic waiting to use the wiggle room left. Those crazy humans. In all seriousness though, many of those who forego the holiday to wait until the stores open are also buying necessary items that are too costly at regular price for them, rather than indulging on gifts. I’ve been reading quite a bit about it today. As for the screenplay, I’d like to see it onscreen as well….needs a rewrite and have others in queue with priority – but soon enough…Thanks for the comment

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