ReverendBilly and the Stop Shopping Choir
Reverend Billy was born Bill Talen on May 25, 1950, and currently, heis an author and a radio show host too. He was born in Minnesota, andhe went to Franconia College where he was able to get his BA. Afterhis graduation, he took the job of a theater manager and that is howhe created the character of a public preacher that he named ReverendBilly (Shulman, 158). He used the character in preaching at multiplepoints in San Francisco on the streets where he wanted to enlightenthe civilians on various essential issues. At that time, he startedmaking a name in the streets because of his unique style. Later, hebegan preaching on the streets near Time Square and criticized MickeyMouse and Disney Store that were known as the anti-Christ at thatparticular time (Shulman, 159). In the process, people beganappreciating his efforts and later the Stop Shopping Choir wascreated. This essay will illustrate how Reverend Billy was able tosensitize the American public on the evils of the advertisements andconsumerism too.
Reverend Billy wanted the corporate institutions such as Mickey Mouseand Disney Store to stop the evil images that were associated withthe anti-Christ movement. In this case, capitalism had nurturedconsumerism and advertising that had adopted various techniques thatwere not well accepted in the society at that time. For instance,Mickey Mouse had often associated certain characters with wizardrybased on the costumes used (Kaylor, 392). The Christians did notappreciate the imagery, and they wished that the institutions couldadopt some characters that were friendly and did not offend certainreligious groups. Apart from that, certain adverts had focused oninsisting that the slim women and the ones with the lightercomplexion were the beautiful ones. On the other hand, the group alsocriticized other vices associated with capitalism and Walmart. Infact, the store has been associated with the lower wages, poorworking conditions and other discriminative policies that underminedthe wellbeing of the employees (Kaylor, 396). More important, thegroup wanted the corporate institutions to change how they interactedwith the other members of the society. For instance, they wanted themto stop airing the false and misleading advertisements and introducebetter friendly policies.
Reverend Billy together with the Stop Shopping Choir organizeddemonstrations in the specific stores that they felt somehow violatedthe rights of the consumers or the workers. The group took theopportunity to preach against the specific flaws associated with theinstitution. For instance, they could go to the Mickey Mouse storeand highlight the few instances where the company engaged in someinappropriate activities (Freund, 1535). In 2009, Reverend Billy wentto one of the ATMs owned by the Bank of America and tried to exorcisethe bad loans and other dangerous decisions that the clients can makeusing the money they have withdrawn (Freund, 1543). In this case, hewanted to ensure that the members of the society did not face anychallenges associated with the bad debts. Besides that, they oftenperform some anti-shopping songs that discouraged people frompurchasing commodities in the specific stores that they target.However, they have ever used violence since they believe that thepeaceful demonstrations are quite useful in such scenarios and theycan be helpful in reaching a wider market as well. In such scenarios,they often focus on urging the consumers to understand how the storesoften behave.
The approach was quite useful since it enlightened consumers on theevil associated with the specific corporate institutions. In thiscase, the group was able to highlight particular aspects such as thediscrimination of the employees as well as the higher prices. Inother scenarios, they even talked about the products that had lowquality yet, the corporate institutions did not make any change.More important, the demonstration was quite efficient in ensuringthat the consumers understand that the firms also engage inactivities that are inappropriate and violate their rights. In theprocess, Billy managed to affect their sales since some of theconsumers stopped shopping at the stores. Hence, they were forced tochange how they related to the larger community since they are theowners. For instance, Walmart was able to improve the workingconditions and increased the wages that the workers received (Freund,1541). Apart from that, they also enhanced the quality of theirproducts and lowered the prices to make sure that they wereaffordable. In summary, the society was at a better place with thehelp of the Reverend Billy since they were able to sensitize thecommunity on some critical consumer issues.
In conclusion, Reverend Billy with the support of the Stop ShoppingChoir was able to reveal the evil associated with several corporateinstitutions in the U.S. More important, they demonstrated right infront of these stores, and they highlighted some of the problems thatwere evident in their products and how they interacted with theiremployees. In fact, the approach was quite useful in informing someof the clients that did not know how the stores engaged in someinappropriate activities. Hence, the demonstration made the corporateinstitutions change various aspects that was a problem at that time.In the process, Reverend Billy was able to modify the culture ofconsumerism as well as advertising.
Freund, James. "Rev Billy vs. the Market: a sane man in a worldof omnipotent fantasies." Journal of Marketing Management31.13-14 (2015): 1529-1551.
Kaylor, Brian. "Earth-a-lujah!: The Prophetic EnvironmentalDiscourse of Reverend Billy." Environmental Communication: AJournal of Nature and Culture 7.3 (2013): 391-408.
Shulman, Max. "The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hallto Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping (review)."Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 27.1 (2012): 157-159.