‘Hail Satan?’ and the Moral Panic That Helped Inspire Its Creation

IndieWire | 4/21/2019 | Staff
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That the title of Penny Lane’s documentary is a question, not a statement, holds more meaning than you might think. “Hail Satan?” follows the Satanic Temple’s years-long efforts to advocate for religious pluralism and redefine what it means to be a Satanist, as the group believes that “witch hunters” have been allowed to set the terms of debate for too long. One case in point: the Satanic Panic that influenced everything from the public perception of bands like Judas Priest to how the West Memphis Three were prosecuted.

“You can’t really fully understand the Satanic Temple if you don’t understand the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ’90s,” says Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves in the film, over footage of news segments carrying ominous titles like “Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground.” “The United States was caught up by anti-Satanist hysterics.”

Lane - Depth - Subject - TST - Efforts

Lane doesn’t go in depth on this subject, focusing instead on TST’s overall efforts, but it’s worth exploring further — especially since neither the Temple nor most other self-proclaimed Satanists even believe in the Devil, let alone worship him.

The main thrust of that original campaign was claiming that playing heavy-metal albums backwards revealed Satanic messages and demonizing kids who played “Dungeons & Dragons,” but film played an important role as well. The Devil has been featured onscreen for almost as long as the medium has existed, with F.W. Murnau’s 1926 take on the Faust mythos providing one early example, but it would be decades before the horror genre exploited him to full effect.

Lot - Developments - Genre - Exorcist - William

Like a lot of other developments in the genre, we have “The Exorcist” to thank for this. Both William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel and William Friedkin’s 1973 movie adaptation ingratiated themselves into the public consciousness like few tales of demonic possession before them; both were preceded by “Rosemary’s Baby,” but...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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