Posted by: nickgerlich | November 27, 2007

Shopping Celibacy

Just when you thought it was safe to resume shopping, along comes another voice in the wilderness telling us it is wrong to keep consuming. Our wanton ways are plunging us ever farther into debt as we bow at the altar of possessions.

And the voice is that of the “Reverend” Billy, the pseudonym of Bill Talen. Rev. Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping is on a mission, albeit not from God, but rather from the Social Activist Deity, urging us to repent and become good little non-shoppers. The message is amplified through the recent release of the documentary (or is it mockumentary?) What Would Jesus Buy, produced by none other than Morgan “Super Size Me” Spurlock. While the Reverend’s organization really is not a church, it parodies many of the ones we frequently see on television. They have their own music, and they seek donations just like real churches. WWJB merely uses the pomp and pompadour of preachers like Jimmy Swaggart to hammer home their message of fiscal conservation.WWJBThe bad news is that we Amarilloans will probably never get to see the theatrical release of this movie, because it is in highly limited distribution. Never mind the fact that some may view it as blasphemous. The Bible Belt is not too keen on anyone making fun of its own kind, even when it is the method that is being exploited, and not the message.

Tallen, an actor turned activist, leads this crusade against the likes of Starbucks and Wal-Mart, simultaneously striking a solid 1-2 punch against overpriced indulgences as well as the proliferation of mass merchandising retailers who (here we go again) have caused Mom and Pop to seek new work. More likely, though, this sounds like the wailings of an out-of-work actor looking to carve out a niche for his own survival.

While I will be among the first to agree that we should all consider our spending habits and keep them in check, I am not so sure that Tallen should be throwing stones. Me thinks he lives in a glass sanctuary, and you know what they say about those kind of people. Leave the stone-throwing to David.

You see, while Tallen is busy condemning our prosperous economic ways (even if we do spend too much at times), he is no different from the institutions and individuals he criticizes. His website includes pleas for donors.

Furthermore, if anyone is to see this film in the theater, they will…ahem…have to cough up some hard-earned cash…cash that goes to grease the wheels of everyone from the theater owner to Spurlock and Tallen himself. Smells like consumption to me.

And even though DVD distribution will likely be a challenge (since Wal-Mart, one of the primary targets in this bash-fest, controls about 50% of the market), this, too, involves having to visit a store to shell out money.

While Santa may find this whine hard to swallow, it is the juxtaposition of sweet irony and bitter hypocrisy that make this one of the more interesting uses of sour grapes I’ve come across in a while.

OK, since last Friday.

Dr “Shut Up And Shop” Gerlich


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