Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir: What will YOU give?

This is awesome.  Time to get on my soapbox.

Among the billions of political email lists that I'm on is Brave New Films: the folks who brought us John McCain's Youtube just became a Nightmare and more. I saw this today: Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping and the soon to be released documentary "What would Jesus Buy".

It's pretty obvious were I'm going to go with this.

Mindless gift giving has always baffled me.  Other than trying to be loving and thankful for wonderful people in my life every day of the year, I often show my love by giving gifts at random times of the year because I find something that I think that person would really like.  Sometimes I can wait long enough and keep it for a birthday or the holidays.  I really don't understand giving things to people just to give them.  Especially if they're going to sit in the closet unused.  How wasteful.

How do we save ourselves from what Reverend Billy calls the "Shopocalypse"?

Black Friday and Holiday shopping seems to have reached a new peak of horridness when three people lost their lives this year.  And with the economy taking a turn for the worst, it seems like the perfect time to re-evaltuate how Americans show love and thanks for our friends and family. 

The Church of Stop Shopping.  The mission is pretty obvious.  Consumerism is running our lives and ruining our happiness. Put the heart and local soul back into our communities.  Have you seen the Story of Stuff? (It's great!) Our lives are driven by the stuff we own, and it's killing us, it's killing the planet and we're now savagely also killing each other.

Here's what Reverend Billy has to say:

This is what the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir had to say about holiday gift giving this year:

What will you give your friends and family this year? Please leave a comment and share with alwaysmoretohear what you will do.

I will, surprisingly (!) be giving the gift of music. And dear readers of alwaysmoretohear, I will make you a CD mix, if you want one. Give any special requests if you have them.  Just let me know.

I will also be giving out a bunch of hugs.  


sassyshell said...

OMG I love Rev. Billy, we went last year and saw the movie in the local independent theater, it was wonderful :)

Thanks for blogging about him! Hope you are well!

Anonymous said...

I am totally down with the concept, would love to get some opinions about one thing:

Why do all visionaries have to take things to extremes and scare off normal people who might otherwise be persuaded by reasonable arguments? It's entertaining, but not so productive. We should have learned from the 60s: you can't blow someone's mind if they are not willing to let you in. Or am I just talking smack?

Jamie: said...

There's a lot of humor and irony in the way the Stop Shopping Church carries their message out, and that's the way they make it fun. This idea of anti-consumerism has always been out there, so "normal" people could have embraced it whenever they needed or wanted to. I think Reverend Billy is looking to make a statement in an exaggerated, fun way, especially for the members of his choir.

I certainly agree that he might be preaching to the choir, no pun intended. This group is new to me though, and I haven't seen the documentary yet. I don't know what kind of impact he's made on the Joe Plumbers and Kathy Soccer Mom's of America.

And there are reasonable arguments out there against anti-consumerism, one of the best ones I've seen is the storyofstuff, there's a link to it in the blog entry. While the presentation is super interesting and pretty close to mind-blowing, it gets a little long and maybe even boring. The Stop Shopping Gospel choir makes it fun. But yeah, it might just take a little more effort to listen.

But I think the visionary ideas always take effort to make folks pay attention, from Galileo to John Lennon and Al Gore, real geniuses are often seen as pure crazy, and they are usually misunderstood. That's because the ideas are controversial, threatening to the mainstream and unwelcoming.

Giant box stores certainly don't want people realizing that it's bad for them to shop a stripmalls.
"Normal" people don't want to be told that when they shop and it's bad for their emotional happiness and the environment.

If you watch the news reel and some of the clips from the documentary (like when he goes to buy a sweater in a local clothing store doomed to go out of business because of WallMart), Reverend Billy's persona is not nearly as exaggerated as it is on the news. I wonder how much of that has to do with how the media WANTS US to see him and how he really is.

It will be interesting to see how all this anti- consumerism plays out in light of the recent Black Friday deaths and the economy.

Anonymous said...

Ya, I guess my comment is that if you go up to someone with a megaphone and shout "your very ideals are laughable", very very very few of them will respond positively, and will just think you're being a dick. You could "convert" more people by taking a few to the side and talking to them in a more rational manner.

True, though, that the media might be spinning the story. But a lot of that was clips from his own movie. So, to me, it all just seems like begging for attention.

Jamie: said...

Well THAT wouldn't make for an interesting movie would it? And it probably wouldn't sell many CDs either. I mean this guy's got to make a living somehow! ; )

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree that there is entertainment value in it. So, let's call it what it is, and stop pretending it's helping us be less consumeristic (is that a word?).

Jamie: said...

Okay, so there are definitely different types of consumption, for sure. There's a huge difference between the consumption of film, art, music, homemade items, etc, and cheap box store products made in China specifically designed to break after a year that you buy because you feel like you have to but really don't need.

That's what the folks in the choir are talking about in that video clip; rather than blind mindless holiday shopping, make it more mindful and thoughtful. Of course we can't stop shopping altogether, just make it count more.

It's made me think about it. So maybe Reverend Billy has as much to say to us progressive types as "normal" folks like Joe the Plumber. My money talks just as much as his does.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I love how "Joe the Plumber" is the new "Joe Blow" or "John Q. Sixpack".

Ya, I'm just thinking his antics can also hurt the cause. Yes, he got you thinking, but how many people did harden? People get pretty defensive about their ways, especially when they suspect something is wrong but they don't think they can change it because of outside pressures.

So, rather than the bat-to-the-head approach, I'm just advocating a more friendly sell. Something like Buy Nothing Day parades. It gives people chance to celebrate anti-consumerism, rather than ridicule pro-consumerism. Then people come to it on their own terms.

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