Coffee Cup Wisdom 4, or What Festival Would Jesus Sponsor?

by gabe
June 21, 2007 10:11 AM
1 Comment
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starbucks talen.jpg
On the Latte: Vini Vidi Venti

A recent tid bit in the Washington Post concerning an alleged conflict between Starbucks and SILVERDOCS over the inclusion of the documentary film WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY? caught my attention


Starbucks Foe Brews Up a Controversy

Performance artist-activist Reverend Billy delivered a shocker on the final night of AFI's Silverdocs when he proclaimed from the stage that Starbucks had yanked its sponsorship of the film festival because of his involvement. The anti-consumerism provocateur (real name: Bill Talen) has lashed out at the chain's labor and purchasing practices (sample lyric: "Don't take slavery in my coffee / We like Fair Trade, it's so tasty"), and he declared Sunday that Silverdocs had bravely chosen his new documentary ("What Would Jesus Buy?") over Starbucks's bucks.

Really? Not quite, festival reps told us. Instead, when the chain learned Silverdocs would be showcasing Talen (who has staged stunt exorcisms in its stores), it simply asked to have its logos removed from the festival -- "but they gave us our sponsorship money," about $5,000.

The practice of giving money but withholding logos as a response to content is also something some public funding sources have done in reaction to films like ZOO, so as not to kick up too much manure.

As long as the checks clear, most festivals have little problem with this practice.

But is this just the first step in the inevitable process money (public and private) influencing content?

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1 Comment

  • Pamela | June 22, 2007 3:02 AMReply

    Money (both public and private) will ALWAYS influence content one way or the other, and how that content is disseminated. That was a big topic at Silverdocs' doc conference this year. About his and Bobby Shriver's alliance with corporations to do their important, charitable work, Bono says in his editor's letter in the current Africa issue of "Vanity Fair" that, "We believed that to ignore the neon and creative force afforded by corporate America would be to ignore the truth about where most Americans live and work." If we use big sponsor budgets to do our socially-conscious work, are we really selling out? Or are we giving corporate America (and ourselves) a chance to redeem itself from disasters of the past decade?