I was getting my hair done a few months ago when my stylist said, “You have to watch this new show Lucifer. It’s so good. But you’ll probably hate it.”
No one knows you like your hairstylist (or “hairdresser” for us old fogies.)
In case you didn’t know, Lucifer is a TV show about a handsome charmer with a British accent who also happens to be the devil, Satan, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness.
Here’s the setup: Lucifer is tired of ruling hell, so he decides to come to earth for a break (think Death Takes a Holiday.) God (whom he calls “my father”) is not too pleased, and sends an angel to bring him back. Of course, the angel has no luck, and is left wandering around the show, glaring at everyone. A girl demon (also very pretty) accompanies Lucifer to earth, and she seems like the jealous type. The angel and the demon (they have names but I forget what they are) spend a lot of time exchanging barbs and plotting about how to get Lucifer back to hell. Or something.
Meanwhile, Lucifer has teamed up with a beautiful, tough-talking FBI agent and decides he’s going to help her catch bad guys. Because Lucifer’s favorite thing to do is to punish people who do bad things. (Did you know that?) The agent pretends to be totally annoyed with him (of course) but I’m sure by season 2 she’ll come around. Think of Castle (or any other TV show where some handsome goofball plays idiot savant to a beautiful cop) and you get the idea.
Where do I begin? Never mind the idea that the devil rules hell (he doesn’t), that his main job is punishing bad guys (it isn’t) and that his name is Lucifer (wrong again). I’m not even going to go there.
What gives me pause is this trend in modern culture to rehabilitate evil. Remember My Fair Lady? A man turns a vagabond into a princess? Nowadays, instead of smart-mouthed cockney flower girls, it’s evil monsters that are getting the makeover.
Maybe it started with Twilight. Gorgeous, sexy vampires who are also more virtuous than the humans around them. This is a complete departure from Anne Rice’s vampires of the 80s, or even the original Dracula. Those characters were sensual and alluring, but they were also evil. Plain, old evil. They killed people in gruesome ways. They had nothing good in mind for humanity.
Not so the new vampires. Twilight’s Edward is—get this—a vegetarian vampire. What is that, you ask? Does he drink the blood of zucchini? No, silly, just animals. Not humans.
In Twilight, the vampires and werewolves are the good guys. In Harry Potter, the witches and warlocks are the good guys, and the humans (muggles) are mostly stupid and just plain mean. I know it is sacrilegious to say anything against Harry Potter (my own daughter would disown me) but this is a world where witchcraft, expressly forbidden by the Bible, can actually be used for redemption and salvation. Isn’t there something wrong with that?
Back to Lucifer. Making the Prince of Darkness charming, sexy and British is not a new idea, of course. But making him a good guy certainly is. I have no doubt that, should Satan show his face in the world, he would be the most gorgeous supermodel of them all. In fact, the word used for serpent in the Garden of Eden is “nachash” which comes from the root “to shine.” I always wondered why it was that Eve did not run screaming when she saw a slimy snake come up to her and start talking. Satan is smart enough to know that if he wants to persuade a woman to do something she shouldn’t do, he ought to show up looking pretty shiny, maybe a little like Zac Ephron.
Conversely, angels are getting a really bad rep in modern culture. Most recent novels and TV shows about angels depict them as power-mad, vengeful and violent. In the opening sequence of the show Dominion (which was the only part I actually watched, truth to tell) the narrator says that God created angels and then disappeared. Disappeared? Where did God go, exactly? The show is about angels trying to destroy the human race (they are mad at it, for some reason). This is the new normal: Satan is only acting out to get his father’s love, while God’s holy messengers have gone rogue.
If these shows were poorly scripted and uninteresting, I wouldn’t be so concerned. The fact is that they are very compelling. Art is always searching to break new ground, to explore ideas that excite and stimulate. Good becoming evil, evil becoming good, it’s a cool concept.
Still, I think it should give us pause. When we are rooting for Satan, even a totally made-up Satan, doesn’t that lead us to let down our guard? To take Satan less seriously? When we glamorize vampires and werewolves and zombies, aren’t we opening a door for true evil to flourish? And isn’t that the real Satan’s goal, after all?
And when we create worlds of supernatural beings without the governance of God, what sort of hell (pardon my French) will we unleash? Are there no consequences? Is it all just for fun?
Satan certainly thinks so. I’ll just bet he’s having a blast.