Wednesday June 20, 2012




by Michael Chapdelaine


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In this age of rampant, mindless consumerism, few Americans question exactly why it is they feel compelled to buy so much... stuff. However, with What Would Jesus Buy?, Executive Producer Morgan Spurlock and Director Rob VanAlkemade have done it in the same brilliant fashion as Spurlock's now famous exploration of the perils of the American fast food diet, Super Size Me.

Truth Alert was graciously invited by Winston Emano, a director with David Magdael & Associates, Inc., to preview this documentary-style film on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at the beautifully restored Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

What Would Jesus Buy? follows the very talented performance activist Bill Talen as he assumes his charismatic, animated alter ego, Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. He is joined all along the way by the Church's Gospel Choir.

Spurlock said in the post-screening question-and-answer session, "You can best inform people if you're not trying to beat them over the head." Indeed, the film delivers a serious message packaged in a delicious, comedic shell. While you're laughing at the Reverend's evangelical antics, you're also contemplating the worldwide impact of globalization on Americans and on second and third world laborers producing disposable goods for our tireless shoppers.

The essential mission of the Church's nationwide tour is to save Christmas from the "Shopocalypse"; the chaotic enslavement of the soul to an insatiable materialistic desire while life's true gifts -- like time well-spent with family -- fall by the wayside.

The Reverend and His Flock (Courtesy of Winston Emano)

To do this, Reverend Billy invades monuments to American excess such as Starbucks and Best Buy to offer his basic message, "Stop shopping!" The puzzled looks of people conditioned to purchase without due consideration is priceless. It is as though they are witnessing, if not divine intervention, something at least a little supernatural. This is accompanied by curbside confessionals for shopping sins, an exorcism of Wal-Mart headquarters, door-to-door Christmas caroling with some refreshing lyrical departures, and a special Christmas Day climax in the heart of the American fantasy construct.

Interspersed is psychiatric analysis of the compulsion to shop and assorted commentary from overstretched parents and others.

If you want a humorous and gentle reminder of what has been lost from our national consciousness this holiday season, go see What Would Jesus Buy?


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