Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Directed by Dietmar Port & Lucia Palacios, 2002
Americans, according to Reverend Billy, lead fake lives: we gobble up the mono-culture peddled by transnational conglomerates; we buy whatever stores sell us; and, consequently, we live consumerist fictions. We become, in his words, “tourists in our own lives.”
Dietmar Post and Lucía Palacios’s REVEREND BILLY AND THE CHURCH OF STOP SHOPPING focuses on Reverend Billy (NYC performance artist Bill Talen) and his devout group of disciples as they crusade against the synthetic and corruptive aspects of today’s hyper-consumerist culture. Talen tirelessly labors to organize “actions”—ranging from choir-singing protests to rooftop speeches—that urge people to stop shopping and to realize the threat lurking beneath the veneer of commodification. Working to create real change through his activism, Talen leads his followers to the streets to recite “The Raven” in protest of NYU’s planned demolition of the Edgar Allan Poe House. Concerned with how transnational corporations “colonize” our mental-scapes and destroy local neighborhoods, the charismatic “preacher” thrives on staging infiltrations of the Disney Store or boycotts of Starbucks, even if it means frequent run-ins with the NYPD.
In the style of Direct Cinema, filmmakers Dietmar Post and Lucía Palacios expertly observe—without interruption—Reverend Billy in action and confrontation. As a result, the most rewarding aspect of
REVEREND BILLY AND THE CHURCH OF STOP SHOPPING is its proficiency in accessing Talen’s truly human side—his humor, self-deprecation, and intelligence—which in turn reveals what is genuinely empowering and inspiring about the man and his mission.
30-Minute Interview with Reverend Billy; Theatrical Trailer; Reverend Billy in Berlin, Spanish and German subtitles