Here’s a movie just out in limited release called “What Would Jesus
Buy?” This review,
partially excerpted from the Chicago Tribune, describes it well.
“What Would Jesus Buy?” is a wickedly
effective indictment of America’s consumer compulsion, our mindless shopping
and the multinational corporations controlling it all.
What could have been a bone-dry
exercise in dogmatism is instead a witty, abrasive and hugely entertaining
romp, thanks to director Rob VanAlkemade. Credit is also due to Reverend Billy,
the alter ego of Billy Talen, who, after watching in horror as Disney took over
his neighborhood (New York’s Times Square), decided to mimic the local street
preachers, the only people being heard over the commercial din. Since launching
his crusade in 1997, Reverend Billy has been banned from 130,000 Starbucks
worldwide, as well as from every Disney property.
Interviews with crazy-eyed
shoppers make it clear that salvation, or whatever you want to call a saner
approach to gift-giving, isn’t going to be easy. Thanks to decades of
devilishly effective marketing, and $15 billion in annual advertising to kids,
Christmas retail is now inextricably linked to the idea of love. The more you
love, the logic goes, the bigger the gift.
Academic and religious experts
line up to explain how Christmas, which began as a modest religious
celebration, has spiraled out of control into the purely consumerist bonanza we
experience today, fueled by Americans’ increasing social isolation and
emotional emptiness. We spend, they explain, to compensate for what we’ve lost,
or what we never had.