… What Would Jesus Buy? : the introduction.
That makes it sound like I don’t like the rest of the show, but I do; it says a lot about consumerism, about what happens when we don’t know where our products come from, about placing that monetary number on the value of our relationships. It also tends to be a lot of fun. But I’m not sure I would have given it the chance if the first four minutes hadn’t been so well done.
It’s a documentary about Christmas, so it starts with a Christmas carol – the Carol of the Bells, which, of course, starts slow and builds in volume and intensity until the viewer is ultimately inundated with the sound. And behind the sound? – images of people getting ready for Christmas: decorations, ornaments, wrapping paper and bows, people going into malls, packing up their carts, piling carts higher than their heads, swiping credit cards, swiping credit cards, swiping credit cards, pushing purchases into cars and minivans, pushing other shoppers out of the way, stampeding over other shoppers to grab things off the shelf, rushing the doors of the stores and trampling one another to start a shopping feeding frenzy of piranha proportions….
Unlike other documentaries – or people who complain about it on Facebook – What Would Jesus Buy? doesn’t preach about the evils of consumerism or the lack of Christ in Christmas. WWJB? shows the viewer, in less than five minutes, what people become when their identities, actions, parenting, friendships, relationships – their lives – revolve around the purchase of things. The frantic, almost leering grins on the faces of people literally standing on the lower halves of the people in front of them, grabbing items from each other’s hands with a ferocity usually reserved for snatching babies from tigers’ jaws, and crowing with delight at the prospect of being more in debt from one Christmas than their parents were after buying a house – it fills the viewer with an open-mouthed sort of horror, like watching a train wreck and hoping that it’s not real.
What Would Jesus Buy? is exactly the sort of well-orchestrated slap in the face that the New Year needs – to put into perspective all of the things we want to buy, and to remind us of all the things we don’t want to be.
And it was fairly entertaining, too.