Friday, December 18, 2009

The Movie Santa Doesn't Want You To See!

Christmas is a tricky time for unclutterers. It makes us painfully aware that we're swimming upstream as far as the general society is concerned, although the tanked economy currently is making that swim quite a bit easier. But even the most confirmed unclutterer is not necessarily a grinch. Except for the ascetics among us, we'd all agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with stuff; the primary issue is the quantity of stuff that so many of us have. True, most of us who advocate living with fewer rather than more possessions would prefer to keep the tangible holiday gifts to a minimum, but that doesn't mean we don't have the spirit of the season. And yet, how does one keep the "correct" balance during a time that's so focused on giving -- or, more accurately, buying?

Bill Talen, aka "Reverend Billy," offers one answer in What Would Jesus Buy? Produced in 2007 by Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me fame, this documentary film tackles the commercialization of Christmas but has a larger focus on the general excesses of consumerism, too. Talen, a genuinely concerned consumer, is also a comedic performance artist who resembles a younger Jerry Lee Lewis. He travels the nation as a preacher from the Church of Stop Shopping. The Reverend warns of the coming Shopocalypse: "the end of mankind from consumerism, overconsumption and the fires of eternal debt." He exorcises demons at the corporate headquarters of that well-known small business crusher, Wal-Mart. He and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir put on a rousing good show everywhere from small churches to the Mall of America (surely a place of worship for shoppers), but the message is legitimate: buy less and give more; buy locally; reduce, reuse, recycle. And buy with awareness. Who made the product? Where? At what cost to the environment? Under what labor conditions?

All of these issues are important, even urgent, but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the seriousness of our concerns and lose the joy of the season and the fun of giving. Sometimes the message has a greater impact when the messenger makes us think and laugh, as Reverend Billy does.

If you live near Greenfield, Massachusetts, you can see the show at the Christmas Revival on December 19th. You can see the Reverend Billy's recent interview on CNN here.

Does the Reverend speak to you?

(c) 2009 Cynthia Friedlob


Jeri Dansky said...

Reverend Billy does indeed speak to me. My gifts to friends and family this year - I only give a few - mainly came from local, independent bookstores. One gift was a book from my own bookshelves, that I passed along to a friend.

I see that my library system has the DVD for What Would Jesus Buy? - so I'm about to put in a request for it.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Oh, good! I'll look forward to hearing what you think about the film, Jeri. Thanks for your comment.

Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter said...

I'm a fan of Rev. Billy and was happy to come across your blog also. I look forward to reading!

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Thanks for the comment, Lisa, and welcome to the blog!