Reverend Billy

| 1st December 2004
from the pulpit
We interrupt our regular programming for a moral advisory…
I'm the Reverend Billy.

Dearest children, awake from Christmas!
In Ye Olde Christmas we see the Utter Evil Christian kill-the-infidels Fundamentalism unite with its bigger brother – Corporate Product hammer-my-brain

Double Consumerism, our souls choked by tinsel, is a fate worse than crystal meth. Here are some guidelines from the happy catacombs of the Church of Stop Shopping.

•    As Wal-Mart and Microsoft and the Pentagon stalk the planet, hell-bent on market-share, remember: all you need to start the Revolution is simply One Hot Neighbourhood. Three people talking on a street corner without a logo branding their flesh, is radical enough.
Why not speak in tongues in broad daylight?

•    The religion of Consumerism wants you to be an Eventualist. Nothing can be done by you alone immediately. You need to buy something first. The gigantic supermodel is winking at you. Until you buy her pants, you can’t have sex. Happiness comes with a price; life’s meaning is available by overnight delivery via FedEx.
Pray for: the possibility of direct action.

•    Anybody reading these commandments who works in the field of advertising, well, that's not a field. You must, when you leave Saatchi and Saatchi at 6pm, you must dedicate yourself to subverting your day job. Join Reclaim the Streets or Dyke Action Machine. If you're in advertising in 2003, it's a little like what they say about critics. You come down out of the hills after the battle has been fought to kill the wounded. 
Please consider the advantages of shame.

•    Affleck and J-Lo, Posh and Becks – these two couples represent the idea of humans-as-products and must be removed to The Hague, where their rehabilitation may involve, for instance, maturity itself. Remember, our current emergency of dullness is shepherded by these Super-people. They attack any element of complexity or surprise in us. Any unsupervised mutation outside the plot of their dull but large soap opera is considered an ‘unexploited market’.
Rev sez: You are a star, baby.

•    With a chutzpah that has won the admiration of the business world, the Disney corporation has patented the imagining of Flight by every child in the known universe, especially at Christmas. Disney will charge parents' credit cards every time their children imagine weightlessness of any kind, lending product identity to Peter Pan, Dumbo, Tarzan, Aladdin, Tinkerbell, Hercules, flying horses and the undulant flight of the Little Mermaid. 
Moral: unmediated kids fly free.

•    Congregation listen to me. When you pull your fingers away from a transnational product you are pulling bullets from the flesh of a child who dared to run out of the sales room patrolled by the US and British infantries. These two countries are the biggest weapons dealers in the world, by several orders of magnitude, and their violence sustains a deadly loop, life-numbing here at home and life-threatening out in the colonies. Pierce Brosnan and Arnold Schwarzenegger fetishise the deaths of movie extras. Then we discover that we are doing the stunts ourselves. 

Let’s put down the popcorn and turn our backs to that screen.
Seriously children, consumerism is a joke, but stop laughing. Consumerism doesn’t make sense. Start thinking. LIVING THROUGH PRODUCTS KILLS.  Save your soul!         Stop shopping! Merry Christmas! Amen!! 

Bill Talen is the author of the book What Should I do if Reverend Billy is in my Store? (New Press). It is available in independent bookstores. If you see it in a transnational chainstore, steal it.

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