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 - js reader 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



Freenet/Sone comments box:

This is a comment system called babcom, which is a decentralized, anonymous, encrypted, troll-resistant, comment system that runs atop Freenet. These comments are not stored on this IMC server - they exist in the Freenet cloud, and you must be running Freenet and Sone to see the comments. Install Freenet and try it out.

Use Node:

⚙ Babcom is trying to load the comments ⚙

This textbox will disappear when the comments have been loaded.

If the box below shows an error-page, you need to install Freenet with the Sone-Plugin or set the node-path to your freenet node and click the Reload Comments button (or return).

If you see something like Invalid key: java.net.MalformedURLException: There is no @ in that URI! (Sone/search.html), you need to setup Sone and the Web of Trust

If you had Javascript enabled, you would see comments for this page instead of the Sone page of the sites author.

Note: To make a comment which isn’t a reply visible to others here, include the red link below somewhere in the comment text.

Add this link to the comment:

Local News

Protests at fig and Washington N24 11:09PM

REMEMBERING CARLOS BULOSAN N23 6:27AM

Pressure on Orange County District Attorney to Prosecute Minors Counsel N22 5:30PM

RE-VISITING CARLOS BULOSAN N22 1:08PM

Winter 2014 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! N20 11:12PM

#UCLADivest N19 1:46AM

Ferguson verdict Monday? N16 1:42PM

TV LEGEND BOB BARKER FUNDS ‘LION’S SHARE’ OF SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO SAVE CIRCUS ANIMALS IN N13 11:30AM

Veterans Against Foreclosures Marches in San Fernando Veterans Day Parade N11 2:46PM

Disappeared Documentary in L.A N11 2:23PM

Los Angeles Questions Oversized LAPD Response to Million Mask March N07 1:57AM

Ghosts of Wall Street Occupy Hollywood Blvd Halloween Night N06 12:48PM

The "Cleaning Up" of Venice N02 5:16PM

Activists Hold Prayer Vigil for Lexi Dillon and Jonah Rief in Orange County O31 2:32PM

New ID Verification Feature on this Site O21 1:06AM

Sierra Club endorses activists for Water Board O20 2:02PM

INDY has been hijacked or sold? to commentators ? O17 9:58AM

Columbus Day Protest, Downtown L.A. O14 4:44PM

Demonstration in Los Angeles: In Solidarity with Kobani O11 12:23PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Washington Covertly Arming Ukraine N28 6:46AM

Over-the-Top Israeli Policies N28 3:46AM

Le fascisme du monde N27 11:39PM

Netanyahu's "Jewish State" Bill - Full text N27 9:25PM

Palestinian Children Brainwashed to Hate Jews, Become Warriors N27 9:20PM

The Shortwave Report 11/28/14 Listen Globally! N27 3:49PM

Monied Interests Have Lots to Give Thanks For N27 12:12PM

Israeli Children Brainwashed to Hate Arabs, Become Warriors N27 7:37AM

Heading for Possible Global War N27 4:17AM

Some LA Ferguson Protest Links N27 12:35AM

Anti-Israel vandalism on campus N26 10:52PM

Israeli Police State Ruthlessness N26 12:38PM

Rewarding Israel for High Crimes Against Peace N26 9:57AM

Unaccountable Israeli Settler Criminality N26 5:28AM

Israeli Ruthlessness 101 N26 2:09AM

Fascism in Ukraine N25 2:07PM

NATO's Dark Side N25 11:32AM

Video: Keystone PipeLIES Exposed, 18 min N25 6:30AM

Systemic Injustice in America N25 5:11AM

LA Protests Grand Jury Decision N24 9:40PM

Chris Dixon on Indymedia On Air N24 6:49PM

Hagel Sacking Suggests More War N24 1:56PM

Deadlocked Iran Nuclear Talks N24 10:20AM

Why Austerity Kills N24 6:47AM

NEW INTERVENTION BY FILIPINO WRITER IN FILIPINO N24 6:29AM

Albert Woodfox: 41 Years in Solitary Unjustly N24 2:54AM

Labor Solidarity Demands a “No” Vote on Israel Boycott N23 6:07PM

Palestinian resistance N23 4:00PM

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