Geschichte | Geographie | Wirtschaft | Gesellschaft
Lea Keller, 2001 | Allschwil, BL
When we think of Satanism very gruesome and horrifying scenes come to mind. Blood, human sacrifices, and dark figures clad in cloaks might be the first things that we think of. Horror movies and other forms of media further support that idea of Satanism. My own understanding of Satanism – being a long-time fan of the dark fantasy and horror genres – was limited to such stereotypical representations. However, my interest was sparked after a conversation about religion and after some research, I discovered that Satanism might not be what I expected. Both websites of the two most prevalent satanic organizations, namely the Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan, state very progressive philosophies including LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights. Ultimately, this unexpected discovery led me to the decision to write about how the media representation compares to the reality of Satanism. To answer that question, I analyzed «American Horror Story» and «Lucifer», two television series containing satanic themes. I categorized the use of symbols in the television series as being either entertaining and shocking or informing based on their accuracy compared to satanic practices.
This paper aimed to compare the representation of Satanism in popular culture and the media to the reality of Satanism, using the two television series «American Horror Story» and «Lucifer», both of which exhibit satanic themes. This led me to the following line of inquiry: «How do the media representation and reality of Satanism compare?» Because I was already familiar with the genres dark fantasy and horror, into which the two television shows can be categorized, I stated that the media uses Satanism to shock and entertain rather than inform as my thesis statement.
To prove or disprove my thesis statement, I first conducted literary and internet research and composed the theoretical background chapter with the information that I collected. Subtopics were selected, referring of the history of Satanism, common symbols in Satanism, the genres dark fantasy and horror, and satanic symbols in popular culture. This background knowledge created the basis on how to proceed in the analytic part of the paper, in which I analyzed the television series «American Horror Story» and «Lucifer» based on their use of satanic symbols. Before my analysis, however, I watched the episodes that I chose to analyze and made sure to take notes during that process. Then, I conducted further research on the television series themselves, to provide necessary background information. In my analysis, the use of satanic symbols in the episodes was compared to the use of symbols in Satanism. Based on its accuracy the purpose of the use of satanic symbols was determined as being either entertaining and shocking or informing.
My analysis showed that the majority of symbols used in «American Horror Story» and in «Lucifer» do not align with satanic practices. There were many inaccuracies and exaggerations that were connected to negative connotations and stereotypes, such as human or animal sacrifices. According to the websites of both the Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan, which are the two main satanic organizations I researched, these are not part of contemporary satanic practices. When detecting inaccuracies, I categorized the purpose of the use of these symbols as shocking or entertaining. However, there were some accurate representations of satanic symbols in the television shows. Especially «Lucifer» incorporated more accurate depictions of satanic practices and succeeded in doing away with some stereotypical representations of Satanism, such as hinting at Satanism being an atheist religion.
Due to the purpose of most symbols used being to entertain and shock I was able to confirm my thesis statement that I formulated at the beginning of my paper. However, it is important to note that since my analysis was limited to only two television series it is only hinting at the overall representation of Satanism in the media.
Although my line of inquiry was answered in my paper, I would argue that it could only be answered with regards to the two television series that I analyzed and not popular culture as a whole. This means that more extensive research can still be done on the topic. Nevertheless, my analysis can lay the basis of further research on this scarcely researched topic.
Würdigung durch die Expertin
Dr. Ursula Ganz-Blättler
Die kulturwissenschaftliche Forschungsarbeit befasst sich in innovativer Weise mit der Darstellung von Satanismus als Gegenkultur in der aktuellen US-amerikanischen TV-Fiktion. Die Autorin stellt die Frage, inwieweit satanistisch inspirierte Symbolwelten in zwei Serien des Dark-Fantasy-Genres dem Gegenstand angemessen erscheinen oder aber klischiert umgesetzt werden. Dabei ist es der sorgfältig ausgeführten Methodik zu verdanken, dass die Ergebnisse der Feldstudie schlüssig erscheinen und spannende weiterführende Fragen aufwerfen zur Abbild- wie auch Vorbildfunktion populärkultureller Inhalte.
Gymnasium am Münsterplatz, Basel
Lehrerin: Gabrielle Pieck