imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Tell the NSA: StopWatching.US

Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - json version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles
link:

"What Would Jesus Buy?" (review)

by R. Plesset Saturday, Dec. 08, 2007 at 12:06 AM

What Would Jesus Buy not only documents Reverend Billy’s street theater activism as he crosses the country, but it also features interviews with shoppers, retail employees, Christmas historians, and authorities on human rights. Additionally, there is footage of sweatshop conditions in Bangladesh--making a compelling call, even for people already aware of the evils of consumerism, to at least cut down on buying for the holidays. And “if we were able to change Christmas, we would change the whole year,” says the Reverend.

"What Would Jes...
200px-what_would_jesus_buy_ver2.jpg, image/jpeg, 200x297

Since the late 1990s, activist Reverend Billy has been using his “surreal inventiveness”(1) to raise awareness about the consequences of modern consumerism—including, among other things, the destruction of communities and products made with sweatshop labor.

The Reverend was created shortly after actor Billy witnessed his home, Time Square, being “turned into a mall”(2). “Disney was signing this amazing Manifest Destiny deal to evict small vendors, and police were picking up anybody who didn’t look as if they were in possession of a credit card,” he recalls(3). “And that was happening before my eyes. . . . I had to ask myself: ‘Who’s shouting here? Who’s really getting out there raising their voice a little bit?’ It was the sidewalk preachers”(4).

Thus, Reverend Billy and his followers began entering the flagship Disney Store, holding up plush Disney characters (sometimes affixed to crucifixes) shouting “MICKEY MOUSE IS THE ANTI-CHRIST!” “GOOFY’S COME TO STEAL THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR CHILDREN! HALLELUJAH!!” as well as imparting information about sweatshops. The Reverend also “exorcised” “customers” of their shopping habits—before getting arrested (sometimes). This is documented in What Would Jesus Buy? and to a greater extent in Culture Jam (website: http://www.culturejamthefilm.com/).

The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir began with six people and one musician and eventually expanded to 35 singers and seven musicians. The Reverend’s wife, Savitri D, became the group’s director. Choir members include high school teachers, “recovering executives,” and scientists.

As is demonstrated in the movie, the Church of Stop Shopping’s street theater has increased in scope and ambition. We see them travel from New York to “The Promised Land” (Disneyland) in California in biodiesel buses.

Not only does the film document the Church’s performance activism across the U.S. (which would have been enough to satisfy me), but it also features interviews with shoppers, retail employees, Christmas historians, and human rights experts. Additionally, there is footage of sweatshop conditions in Bangladesh--making a compelling call, even for people already aware of the evils of consumerism, to at least cut down on buying for the holidays. And “if we were able to change Christmas, we would change the whole year,” the Reverend says.

The ruthlessness of holiday shoppers is described by a lady who sells computer games. “I’ve had my life threatened,” she says. “I‘ve had people follow me out to the parking lot and try to beat me up as if I have all the systems in my car, I’ve had people cuss me out, I’ve had people actually spit at me, I had a woman who was about 60 years old cuss me out and spit on me for not having a Ps3 for her six-year-old grandson. That’s just me, too—we’ve had a lot worse in some of the other stores.”

A narrator tells us that “American stores could already fit every man, woman, and child in North America, South America, and Europe inside them at one time. It is also mentioned that our Christmas shopping habits “create five million tons of extra waste.”

As the Church of Stop Shopping travels west toward the Promised Land, stops are made at the Mall of America, Starbucks, and Las Vegas. At Starbucks, Reverend Billy likens the chain to invading extraterrestrials as he jumps over the counter. One customer yells, “WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!”

At another point in the trip, Reverend Billy must go to a gas station to buy fossil fuel as the supply of biodiesel has frozen. As he pumps the dinodiesel into the bus, the Reverend drops to his knees and pleads to the “Fabulous Unknown” for forgiveness--all the while, a truck driver is at an adjacent pump.

The Church of Stop Shopping also visits people’s homes and sings carols, one of which goes: “Joy to the world in the form of goods! Consume! Consume! Consume! Buy plastic this-and-thats for screaming little brats! Take the SUV to the mall! Take the SUV to the mall! And buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy it all. . . .“ (Some of the Choir’s music is available at Reverend Billy’s website (http://www.revbilly.com/), and hopefully more of it will become available. At the very least, Pacifica radio stations should start playing the film’s songs and music during the holiday season. Personally, it puts me into the holiday spirit despite (or perhaps because of) its subversiveness.)

While at a Victoria’s Secrets, the Reverend exorcizes a cash register: “Oh, Victoria! We know your secret. We don’t need a million catalogs a day to have our sexual fantasies.”

As the film reaches its climax, the Church of Stop Shopping nears The Promised Land (Disneyland). Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee, describes Disney products, including “Dress-Up: A Sticker-Activity Storybook.” “I don’t think many people in the United States would associate this Disney book with crushed and broken fingers, lacerated hands, broken bones, even deaths of young women in China,” He says. He then produces a Minnie Mouse statuette. “And the workers in the factory that made this in Sri Lanka tried to organize a union. They took the union leader out of the factory and broke his knee caps.”

On Christmas Day, the church members enter Disneyland (and seeing them disguised as tourists adds to the fun). At a designated time, they change into their Church of Stop Shopping garb and perform in front of a crowd awaiting a parade on Main Street. “STOP SHOPPING HERE!” exclaims Reverend Billy. “WE HAVE THE REAL MAGIC!” The choir sings behind him. Many tourists seem amused and/or intrigued, but Disneyland’s security is not. The Reverend is handcuffed and sent to the Anaheim Jail. The others are threatened. (Clips of this segment were played on Democracy Now! and can be viewed/heard here:
http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2007/11/20/what_would_jesus_buy.)

What Would Jesus Buy? is directed by Rob VanAlkemade, who previously collaborated with Reverend Billy on the short Preacher with an Unknown God (whose preview can be watched here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=KzVWqbtEViA. Also, see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0484879/). VanAlkemade became aware of the Reverend in 2004 and says the performer-activist “somewhat assuaged” his “growing suspicions towards politics, protests, and even the filmmaking process.”

During the making of What Would Jesus Buy? VanAlkemade claims that 900 hours of interviews were recorded. Considering this, and the unused street theater which presumably exists, as well as countless other actions by Stop Shopping over the years, this author hopes the DVD will be very comprehensive.

In the mean time, What Would Jesus Buy? is worth seeing in a theater. The photography is often beautiful, even though the decadence of the season is strongly imparted, and the music is beautiful, fun, and meaningful.

Further coverage of the movie and clips can be found at:
http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2007/11/20/what_would_jesus_buy and http://uprisingradio.org/home/?p=2116





-----

(1)Director Rob VanAlkemade’s description of the Reverend in the presskit for the film.

(2)Quote from Culture Jam.

(3)From Culture Jam.

(4)From What Would Jesus Buy?
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Local News

In LA, San Diego, Sacramento and 147 Other Cities, McD And Other Fast Food Workers Picket S05 1:08PM

Did LA pro-Israel group conceal right-wing identity from Hollywood celebs and media? S04 11:39AM

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus S02 4:49PM

Anti-blackracism in the U.S. S01 12:10PM

New Zine on Activist Collective Living A29 9:19AM

LA Fields Two Marches Against Police Executions Photoset 2 of 2 A21 9:09PM

LA Fields Two Marches Against Police Executions Photoset 1of 2 A21 7:01PM

Running Down the Walls 2014 A20 8:48PM

Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery Extends Exclusive Engagement A19 3:37PM

Los Angeles Declares “Hands Up!” in Peaceful Protest of LAPD Murder of Ezell Ford A18 4:09AM

Ezell Ford and Ferguson Solidarity A17 6:35PM

Family and Supporters of #Justice4Fords Protest LAPD Execution of Ezell Ford in South L.A. A17 2:49PM

Southern California Swarms to Save the Bees in Solidarity with Honey Bee Day Around the Gl A17 5:30AM

L.A Supports August 2nd International Gaza Protest Photoset 4 A05 7:03PM

L.A Supports August 2nd International Gaza Protest Photoset 3 A05 6:45PM

More about KPFK via Pacifica turmoils A05 6:29PM

L.A Supports August 2nd International Gaza Protest Photoset 2 A05 6:23PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus S16 12:14PM

Kiev Grants Donbas Limited Special Status: Hold the Cheers S16 12:13PM

Nuclear Bomb Witness, Mobile Audit Club Daily Forewords, ISIS good Sissies like Reid Fag, S16 10:15AM

police training problem S16 8:19AM

How Neoliberalism Gained Hegemony S16 7:11AM

Dreaming War, Threatening Humanity S16 5:56AM

18 Ways AntiHealth Departments Connected To Drug Co. Pawns In The CDC Do Harm S15 2:59PM

Israel's Genocidal War on Palestine Without End S15 1:55PM

Israeli Persecution of Palestinians Unrelated to Defense S15 7:48AM

Beat the Heat S14 6:32PM

Israeli High Crimes Against Peace Examined S14 1:30PM

Russell Tribunal on Ukraine S14 10:16AM

TISA versus Public Services S14 9:29AM

Russia Denounces New Western Sanctions S14 6:13AM

I demand right to inform Chch post-quake victims of human rights truth and ethical plan. S13 6:28PM

Abbas Blocks Israeli War Crimes Investigation S13 1:20PM

Wolf Patrol enters Yellowstone backcountry to document and protest Montana wolf hunt S13 8:45AM

3 More NW Illinois Counties Show Insect Resistance to Monsanto's GMO Bt Corn S13 8:00AM

IDF Soldiers Denounce Israeli High Crimes Against Peace S13 6:45AM

Mustafa Barghouti on Operation Protective Edge S13 3:41AM

Jewish Voice for Peace= Jewish voice for Hamas? S12 11:37PM

Artists, Actors and the creative Community for Israel S12 11:22PM

Marijuana – A Real Danger to Young Lives S12 2:53PM

Washington Hawks Want Greater Middle East Spending S12 2:38PM

MSM Ignore International and Constitutional Law S12 11:34AM

How to Combat ISIS Without War S12 10:37AM

Modus operandi de l'apocope S12 12:51AM

The Shortwave Report 09/12/14 Listen Globally! S11 4:53PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy