The Pagan Overly-Defensive Initiative
I've got an audience. People read this blog and listen to my podcast. I know that people listen to what I say, and in that spirit I would not like to direct the following blog post at any other well-known pagan specifically. That being said, this was inspired by a recent article on another blog, which shall remain nameless.
What in the HELL is the deal with pagans playing the eternal victim? From time to time I read other blogs and listen to podcasts that review television, movies, books, and other media. In a vast majority of these reviews, the focus is on how pagan/witchy/magical folk come off, and they're always pissed off.
Hollywood is so irreverent! I don't watch TV anymore! They're making us all out to look silly!
We're all just so abused!!!
Ok. I think I've said this before, but aren't you just exhausted with this ridiculous display? Let me tell you a little secret: there's not one group out there (despite its size) that is accurately portrayed by Hollywood. Do you think a story about the peaceful nature of most Muslims is going to sell tickets, or will people pay to see the evil Muslim extremists act as villains and terrorists on the big screen? Is the story of a mundane, middle-class Christian family the subject of news coverage, documentaries, or television? NO! We see the polygamists, the extremists who rail against government control, and the fringe that makes up only a fraction of a percent of that group.
I remember when Lisa Simpson dabbled in Wicca. It wasn't that long ago. The outcry from the online pagan community was one of disgust! That's not what Wicca is! Why isn't Hollywood working hard to portray us as a valid religion/belief system? Yes, we're expecting a show whose characters never age, who has relegated the Hindu/Indian guy to being the gas station owner, who depicts cops as fat, donut-eating idiots, whose Christian character is overly pious and violently afraid of sinning...we expect that show to depict Wicca with historical accuracy and reverence.
Why are we eager to consume media that nonchalantly places characters into various convenient stereotypes, but get so full of vitriol when paganism is mentioned? What's the problem? We have given the various forms of media permission to create the story lines they do by purchasing tickets, reading books, and consuming their products.
Some of the most recent complaints have come from an episode of Supernatural. The show depicts various gods and goddesses from various pantheons apparently eating human flesh, using humans as pawns in their divine designs. (Sorry, Candice Olson.) The problems people complain about are that Hollywood has trivialized their respective deities, turning them into Marvel-style mutants with dreadful egos rather than faces of the divine worthy of worship. People, people, people... It's a show about monster/ghost/angel/demon/etc. hunters! They're doing what most of TV and movies these days does: putting familiar names on fairly original characters. They need a bad ass chick with enough power to hold her own against the big, bad Satan, so they choose Kali as inspiration - considered by some to be the Goddess of change or death.
Was she supposed to actually be an accurate portrayal of the revered Hindu Goddess? OF COURSE NOT! Just like Satan/Lucifer is pretty much just a title they gave to their Big Bad. I wonder if the Christian community is outraged that angels, demons, Yahweh, and the devil aren't all portrayed perfectly...
Nobody is trivializing pagans in the media except pagans. Is Wicca/paganism/earth-centered religions/witchcraft weird to the majority of the population? Yes, and if you think otherwise you're a nut. I've said it time and again - We're a minority! A pretty big minority. Not everybody fully understands our beliefs, but the same can be said of any religion that isn't our own.
Like Velma Nightshade has said to me, "If you're looking to [Hollywood] for your history, then you've got more problems than being victimized." It's pretty pathetic, to be perfectly honest. It's pathetic that we're putting on blinders to how the media is portraying other groups and only focusing on our own. It's simple-minded to believe that somebody out in Hollywood is actively victimizing us.
We're going to get about as much respect as any other religious group gets. That is to say none. Jesus Christ is an active running joke on shows like Family Guy, American Dad, South Park, the Simpsons, etc. Name a group: gays, lesbians, comic fans, blondes, red heads (ginger kids), fat people, beautiful people, witches, cops, politicians... They've all get their types and subtypes of stereotypes.
An example: There's not just one gay stereotype, there are several. The queeny guy, the masculine guy who hates on effeminate guys, the really hot one who straight women want to turn, the bitter average/chubby guy that can't understand why the guy with the 6-pack doesn't want to screw him....and the list goes on and on.
It doesn't matter what little niche of society you've sequestered yourself into, it's been made fun of. It's been talked about, written into a screenplay, made into a comic book, whatever. Get the hell over it. If you don't like what's happening, become a media executive. Become the publisher who decides which books do and don't enter the market. Become the TV producer who decides the direction and depth of characters on the shows you create. Become the movie big whig who decides to portray true and accurate accounts of witches throughout history. (I won't be buying tickets to your film, though, as it would be a snore fest.)
And, where is the outrage about the special effects departments?! When Willow's eyes go black, she hovers a few inches over the carpet, and she sends a lightning bolt into her foe, where is the public outrage from pagans and witches saying that we can't really do that? When the chicks on Practical Magic put the whammy on a man, kill him, bring him back from the dead, kill him again, and then suck his visible soul out of Nicole Kidman...where was the victimized river of tears?
Bottom line: Nobody goes to the theater or turns on the tv to their favorite fictional sci-fi show to be given an in-depth historical, literature, psychoanalytical breakdown of every single magical act, deity, or belief system portrayed. They're there to be entertained.
Sure the writers might attempt to inject a bit of true lore into their production, but they're also trying to appeal to an audience. Why don't we just sit back and enjoy the show?
Side note: If you're really worried about our public perception, why don't you take off the damn fairy wings and glitter, quit calling yourself High Priestess Witch Princess Bumblebee Fartweather, do some real research, and become an active participant in making this community a respectable public force? Just a thought.
Let me know YOUR thoughts by emailing IncitingARiotPodcast@gmail.com, tweeting @IncitingARiot, or leaving a comment below!
Love and Lyte,