Reverend Billy Movies
Known off-stage as Bill Talen
, Reverend Billy
created the character for which he'd come to be known on the streets of New York City. A struggling actor from Minnesota, Billy
constructed his persona to be part street preacher, part televangelist, and soon became a well-known and respected performer based on his Times Square antics, where he preached against the trappings of consumerism that sucked in tourists at every turn. Soon, Billy
started collecting a following of like-minded people with a sense of humor and a distaste for materialism, and they created a non-profit organization called The Church of Stop Shopping. The congregation began assisting Billy
in larger demonstrations and projects, performing as a full-scale church choir in stores and on sidewalks with the message to put the credit cards away and "put the Odd back in God." The group attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada, and also began using its visibility to speak out about more specific issues, like citing Starbucks for union busting and pushing local businesses out of the market, and protesting against the sale of the historic Union Square pavilion to be developed as a restaurant. ~ Cammila Collar, Rovi
- Add What Would Jesus Buy? to Queue
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Bill Talen is a New York-based activist and performance artist who since the late '90s has won notoriety for his character Rev. Billy. Rev. Billy is a wildly charismatic street preacher and self-appointed leader of the Church of Stop Shopping, who began his career speaking out against the gentrification of New York City, the forced renovation of 42nd Street, and his favorite symbol of the evils of international marketing, the Disney Store. Since then, Rev. Billy has expanded his targets to include a number of firms (including Starbucks Coffee and several fast food chains) who engage in unfair labor practices and exploit Third World resources for profit; he also performs with a full gospel choir and a four-piece band as they spread the message of overcoming the consumer culture, speaking with your dollars and questioning what advertising and corporate spokespeople have to say. While Talen's routines started out as comic street theater, he's become recognized as an effective (if deliberately eccentric) advocate for economic justice, and filmmaker Rob VanAlkemade offers an in-depth look at the phenomenon of Rev. Billy in his documentary What Would Jesus Buy? Produced in part by Morgan Spurlock, What Would Jesus Buy? received its world premiere at the 2007 South by Southwest Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Reverend Billy
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