What Would Jesus Buy? (DVD Review)11 May, 2008 By: John Latchem
Arts Alliance America
Box Office $0.2 million
Rated ‘PG' for thematic material and mild language.
Stars Bill Talen.
In one sense, What Would Jesus Buy? is an attack on religion in America. But the target is not Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism. Rather, it's a religion of shopping, where the credit card is god and malls serve as houses of worship.
What Would Jesus Buy? tells us the average person now spends less than one hour each week in church, while devoting more than five hours to shopping. Personal savings average less than $0 for the first time since the Great Depression.
Is there any doubt America is the world's No. 1 consumer of crap?
In this deft and entertaining film, director Rob VanAlkemade and producer Morgan Spurlock set their sights on America's materialism and culture of credit cards. The film follows the adventures of performance artist Bill Talen, whose The Reverend Billy persona leads protests against capitalism run rampant. He primarily targets Disney, and the film takes a subtle jab by using the Disney font for its titles and on-screen text.
Apparently Disney does too good a job promoting its brand.
Reverend Billy kicks off the film by getting arrested after marching into a Disney Store and proclaiming Mickey Mouse to be the Antichrist. Going to jail for his cause, we learn, is a force of habit for the Reverend Billy. He heads to malls and Wal-Marts and encourages people to save their money, all the while lamenting how the spirit of Christmas has been corrupted to equate love with gifts.
The film follows Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as they take a cross-country road trip to preach their message, ending up in an impromptu parade down Disneyland's Main Street, which led to Billy's arrest.
VanAlkemade layers the film with clips of children demanding all the newest gadgets and toys, while their parents say they don't mind going broke to make their kids happy.
This all implies that these people could use some piety in their lives, or at least some value system to instill a sense of personal responsibility. Even if you don't agree with Billy's methods, it's hard to argue with that.