I have long said that our values are out of whack in this country, that we covet material things to an unhealthy degree and spend needlessly in a futile attempt to feel better about ourselves. It seems I am not alone in this belief. Reverend Billy, along with his mock-religious Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, has made it his mission in life to spread the message of evil consumerism, proclaiming that “our current financial crisis is nothing short of a shopocalypse.”
Last year the good Reverend released “What Would Jesus Buy,” a documentary film that attacked our consumer culture, in which his antics get him escorted out of the Mall of America and arrested â€¦ at Disneyland. Variety Magazine called the documentary “seriously hilarious” and the Austin Chronicle said it was “as entertaining as it is jaw-dropping.” Check out the trailer for the video below:
The Reverend isn’t a real minister. He is Bill Talen, an actor and performance artist whose shows are part political activism, part street theater. His act began in 1996 as a one-man performance on the sidewalks of Times Square, where he preached against consumerism. His Church of Stop Shopping project, which now includes a 35-person choir and 7-person band, has released dozens of original songs, a critically acclaimed stage show, a major motion picture and multiple media platforms. The street is his stage, the choir is all volunteer, and his wife, Savitra, is the producer. Donations and grants pay for the rest.
It’s all done up with more than a modicum of tongue-in-cheek. Reverend Billy irreverently proselytizes, “We walk in the valley of the shadow of debt,” and has declared the day after Thanksgiving to be “Buy Nothing Day 2008.” And the Reverend is about to take things to the next level. Tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST, Billy will air his first live videocast, The Stop Shopping Hour Of Power, where viewers can be exorcised by “confessing their sins to Church leaders, sharing stories of retail intervention, and backing away from the product!”
Of course, Billy also hopes you stop by his website to purchase one or more of his songs, posters, flyers, videos, documentaries, or books, so that you, too, can help spread the message of evil consumerism.