For folks who already show a greater propensity to carry out acts of violence—especially those whose inner predator appears manageable and dormant until something or someone pushes them past the tipping point—exposure to this kind of media could be the catalyst that creates the killer. One sci-fi/horror anthology film illustrates this concept profoundly: A concerned eye doctor discovers that one of his female patients is being physically abused by her boyfriend, and he decides to intervene. Using futuristic technology and medicine, he creates an injection that will induce a barrage of rapid, violent images upon contact with the eyeball. His idea and intent is that, even when the eye is closed, the bombardment of bloody, gory, violent, and disturbing pictures will flash in view for a temporary time in the abuser’s view to “scare him straight” so the violence against the woman will stop. Luring the abuser into his clinic under the guise of a free eye exam, the doctor administers his serum to the unsuspecting boyfriend, and it succeeds in generating the inescapable volley of horror into his mind. The violent man flees the clinic and returns home in a panic. However, minutes later, the audience discovers that the serum backfired tragically, resulting in the gruesome murder of the female patient. The man returns to the doctor after the dose has worn off, informing him of the irony:
You think heaping a pile of murderous images and abuse on my brain was gonna make me think, “Oh, God, oh God, what a bad man I am. I repent.” You know, you may be an okay eye doctor…but you’re a crap psychologist, Doc. You don’t know a thing about me—my life, what I’ve seen.…
[He laughs.] You thought this would help me? You turbocharged me! Who knows? Maybe if you’d loaded my head full of images of cute, cuddly kittens, I would have straightened out right as rain, you know? But you messed up! You killed her, Doc.[i]
A fight ensues between them in which the doctor prevails, but not without having first received a shot of his own serum. Unable to withstand the flood of sadistic imagery that suddenly appears across his vision, he plucks out his eye to make it stop. The drastic measure appears to work for a moment, but when it resumes a moment later, the doctor ends his life as a final escape.
Some might see a twofold moral to the story: Through the influence of this (currently fictional but futuristically predictive) technology, via the same violent-image induction, bad men release inner killers; good men can be tortured to the point of death.
Will We Reach a Point of No Return?
Of a slightly different flavor, the 2019 film Midsommar may seem to be mistakenly classified under the “folk horror” genre, since, at first glance, it seems more “weird” than “scary.” Upon deeper investigation, though, it would seem that perhaps, for this film, the truly fearsome elements lurk, hidden in plain sight.
Midsommar begins with the double homicide and suicide of the main character’s parents and sister. In a search to find peace, the girl joins her boyfriend and several acquaintances as they travel to Sweden with an earth-worshipping cult to attend a festival that only occurs every ninety years. Filled with symbolism, this film subtly presents a shift in futuristic culture, where luciferian worship, human sacrifice, imitative- and sex-magick, and ancient religion lead a cultish, post-Christian society. In a setting laced throughout with what director Ari Aster later admitted was occult runes, this commune embraces orgiastic worship, mind-altering drugs/hallucinogens, human sacrifice, witchcraft, and even euthanasia in its pursuit of the perfect harmonious, utopian society. Parodies of Christianity, such as a mimicry of the language of tongues, are on display throughout the film. The lead male character—ironically (and likely, intentionally) named Christian—is a self-serving, dishonest personality who thinks only of himself (unfortunately, this is how much of the secular world views Christians). He takes no stand on principle throughout the movie, does what feels good despite whether it’s right or wrong, and gives no support to those he claims to care for. The movie’s dialogue and scenes revealing his shortcomings are laden with inferences of the failures of Christianity, as illustrated by a futuristic, utopian familial way of approaching life as traditional Christian lifestyles are left behind and newer, modern, and idealistic ways are embraced.
The film portrays a crude level of singularity via the ability of the entire community to experience the emotions or experiences of an individual. For example, when one woman cries in devastation after learning that her boyfriend (Christian) has been unfaithful, other women gather around her and scream in agony, as though they also feel her pain. As the scene depicting the ritual of human sacrifice approaches and closes the film, we see Christian dressed in the fresh, still-bloody skins of a recently killed bear (which symbolizes communication with the spirit world), and scapegoat-type rites (those placing iniquities upon the sacrificial individual for the purging of communities’ wrongdoings) are read over him as he and eight others are burned alive; this is the way villagers are “purged” of all negativity and guilt. There are multiple layers of symbolism throughout the production, but the overall point of the film is summed up in a hidden-in-plain-sight observation regarding where society is portrayed to be headed: A post-Christian nation embraces New Age practices such as earth-worshiping pantheism amongst an ancient, pagan religion. This society features singularity, utopia, selective breeding, orgiastic fertility rituals, spirit-channeling, and cremation of care (the placing of one’s wrongs upon a sacrifice or effigy for purging). In trade, ancient rites of magic and human sacrifice replace “outdated” Christian values.[ii] Ultimately, the symbolism leaves viewers to decide whether they will embrace the coming resurgence of ancient religion or adhere to the outdated notions of Christianity, which will soon disappear. (Due to the graphic nature of this film, including nudity and sexual content, we suggest that, if you’d like more information on this movie, you watch the documentary Midsommar: Initiation into the Ancient Religion of the Future produced by Truthstream Media, 2019, rather than the film itself).
Santa Clarita Diet
1973 sci-fi/thriller Soylent Green depicted a horrific future wherein the world is devoid of sustenance and people live on prepackaged rations. Only the older members of society recall a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods being a part of their diet. In this dystopian society characterized by euthanasia and assisted suicide, a series of events reveals that the food staple distributed to citizens and known ambiguously as “Soylent Green” is made of recycled human remains. While this plot twist was intended to disturb viewers and leave them unsettled, newer movies and television series have used a different approach to the subject of cannibalism. For example, no longer villainizing the notion, shows such as iZombie and Santa Clarita Diet make light of it.
The latter, Santa Clarita Diet, unapologetically attempts to blend comedy with disgusting crudities such as projectile vomit and physical mutilation, not to mention brutal and repulsive cannibalism and sex between the living and the undead. This series attempts to condition its audience to find cannibalism nonsensical and humorous rather than threatening and satanic. The production features a suburban family involved in real estate and keeping up with the Joneses. The leading female character, played by Drew Barrymore, finds that she has somehow turned undead and craves human flesh. As her husband, played by Timothy Olyphant, becomes an accomplice in her murderous feedings, the family tries to maintain a “normal” image for their neighbors and acquaintances—while keeping Barrymore’s character fed. Their gruesome antics involve eating cadavers, making smoothies from dead flesh, hiding body parts in freezers, engaging in extramarital affairs, and disfiguring undead bodies as they slowly decompose and fall apart, among many other repulsive activities. While many may say that the series is all silliness and would never represent reality, again, these authors find that there are current parallels in the real world that only await depravity and technology to bring to fruition these imaginings…
What if you could request lab-raised meat based on a celebrity’s DNA, which could then be blended with other meats, fruits, and vegetables, cured into salami and shipped to your house for your eating pleasure? Sound disgusting? Believe it or not, Bitelabs is a company that since 2014 has been campaigning to do this very thing (unless it is involved in one of the most complex and long-lived hoaxes society has seen to date). Celebrities this organization is currently attempting to harvest DNA from include Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lawrence, and James Franco.[iii] We know what you must be thinking: This seems so outlandish that it absolutely must be a hoax, right? While it’s possible (and seems like the rational explanation), efforts to confirm it have, up to this point, come up empty.
A researcher at Time magazine attempted to verify the claims regarding Bitelabs, and someone who identified himself as the CEO of the company stated that the company’s ability to carry the project out would “depend on…[their] ability to generate public enthusiasm,” and that an additional aim the company had was to “prompt widespread discussion about bioethics, lab-grown meats, and celebrity culture… treating it as a cultural precursor for when our product eventually hits production.”[iv] While Time’s take-away from this contact was that Bitelabs’ emphasis was more on fueling conversation regarding lab-raised meats in general, the ambiguity of the lab’s position never cleared up. The CEO completely avoided stating that their efforts were in any way aligned with pretense.
Additionally, when Brian Merchant of The Vice reached out to Bitelabs, expecting a tongue-in-cheek reply to what he presumed was a humorous attempt at disgusting satire, he received a “series of lengthy, sincere responses…that didn’t appear to be mocking it.”[v] The emails Merchant received explained that a staff of five full-time workers wished to start a discussion about their project, and said that “making celebrity meat a reality from there will all depend on our ability to build a user-base.” The emails outlined some specific details of their plan, including the percentage of celebrity meat vs. animal meat. Interestingly, the full names of Bitelabs’ staff members were protected in communication with both Time and Merchant, apparently to maintain anonymity in light of the scandalous nature of their work. However, after being offered multiple opportunities to confess that the project is a hoax, Bitelabs continued to say that they are interested in seeing what type of marketability may exist for both lab-raised animal meats and for celebrity meat, along with “pushing the boundaries of tech and society.”[vi]
While these authors still hope that this is somehow a joke, further digging yields no confirmation that it is. On the other hand, if it is a hoax, then the Bitelabs folks have certainly remained stubborn about seeing it through. As yet, there has been no hint of anything other than sincerity from them, and their ongoing wish to remain anonymous makes us wonder if there really is something to this project. With television shows such as iZombie and Santa Clarita Diet trivializing the notion of cannibalism, the possibility certainly could exist.
When Netflix announced its newest film title to be Cuties, an English-dubbed version of the French award-winning movie from Sundance Film Festival, they may have been surprised (or perhaps not, as we’ll discuss in an upcoming article) to see that the public response was to rage against the production. Memes and Facebook posts everywhere boasted such slogans as “Cancel Netflix,” and, for a moment, even the word “Netflix” itself seemed synonymous with the acceptance of pedophilia. All in all, Netflix saw a spike in the number of views of this title, but reported a plummet in revenue as subscription cancellations mounted to more than nine million.[vii] Why? Because the public saw the movie as a production that promotes blatant acceptance of the sexuality of too-young girls who dress in scant clothes, wear lots of makeup, and move their bodies as though conducting a strip-tease years before such a show would even be legal for their under-developed bodies.
Cuties begins with eleven-year-old Amy (short for Aminata) moving to a new housing development with her mother and brother, expecting her father to join them in their new location soon. Amy discovers that when her dad does arrive, he’ll be bringing a second wife into the existing family; a segment of the film seems to address the family members’ emotional adjustments to this anticipated newcomer. As a preteen, Amy becomes fascinated by the provocative dancing of a group called “Cuties” in her new neighborhood. She joins them, adopting their fashion of dress and dance, but keeps her activities—and her wardrobe—hidden from her family, who would be offended due to their conservative Muslim beliefs. Over the course of the movie, Amy’s clothing becomes more and more seductive and her actions become more daring; her search for her identity somewhere between promiscuity and traditionalism is followed as her look—along with her dance flair—becomes more sensual, revealing, and mature.
On a stolen cell phone, the girl watches a clip of adult women doing strip-tease-style dancing, and she begins to emulate their looks, body language, and wardrobe choices. Using the same phone, she and her friends also flirt and chat online with older boys and attempt to film a young man’s anatomy as he urinates in the boys’ restroom. Amy even posts a naked picture of her own genitalia on social media.
Her crowning moment of peer acceptance comes when the other Cuties find that, by watching the provocative dances and mastering the moves, Amy brings a new line-up of salacious moves to the group’s repertoire: gyrating in a variety of positions, booty-bouncing, swatting and bumping of each other’s buttocks, shaking their buttocks near others’ faces, adopting extremely suggestive hand gestures, and much more. The girls add to their graphic moves the facial portrayal of innocence. Coy, wide-eyed expressions paired with a single finger placed at the corner of the mouth and other such child-like touches serve as alluring counterpoints to the maturity of their scandalous gestures and attire. All this, presented via camera shots filmed in close-up range to such brazen positions as the spread-eagle, create a scandalous dance scene that justifiably outraged viewers.
While the movie—especially the final dance scene—has become notorious online, those who haven’t seen the entire film may not realize that it features an even more alarming element. The worst thing Cuties offers is not the in-your-face sexualization of these preteen girls, although that is extremely disturbing. Even worse is what takes place at the end of the final dance scene, when the onlooking crowd’s reaction is mixed: some parents cover their children’s eyes and some bystanders show expressions of shock, while still others bob their heads to the rhythm. Some men watch, wide-eyed with intrigue and arousal. Amy, however, freezes mid step, hearing in the back of her mind the traditional music of her family’s heritage. Tears fill her eyes and she runs off stage, then returns home to make amends with her mother, don age-appropriate clothing, and walk outside to join other girls her age as they jump rope to an innocent and peaceful tune. The camera zooms in, showing her hair whisking across her face as the wind whips through her curls with every ascent and descent. Amy smiles joyously into the lens, signaling to the audience that she has at last found peace with herself and returned to innocence.
These moments illustrate a conditioning tactic called “foot in the door,” which we’ll explain at more length in an upcoming article. For now, we’ll just say that it’s a method that introduces an idea, then backs off, leaving the idea to simmer. In this movie, it went like this: The over-sexual behavior of a confused young girl is introduced, then is dialed back, yet is reinforced with the subtle suggestion that this behavior will “iron itself out” if allowed to run its course and the teen is given space. Unfortunately, in the real world, behaviors like the ones this girl engaged in are a cry for help; ignoring them only means the problem will escalate, not resolve itself. To put it another way, the movie subliminally communicates that young people who are dabbling in sexual activity, being exposed to pornography or strip-tease dancing online, posting inappropriate pictures of their anatomy on social media, abandoning their family’s conservative values, lashing out, sneaking out, dressing inappropriately, and otherwise acting in salacious ways will have a sudden moment of clarity, after which they can reclaim their joyful innocence without further consequences, baggage, or ado. Additionally, by cuing the film’s viewers in on the mixed reactions of the audience at the girls’ dance—from the shock to the interest—producers seem to be acknowledging that sexualizing our youth will also be met with a variety of reactions. Yet it also seems to answer these attitudes preemptively, as if to say, “Yes, we know it’s shocking, but hang in there; these young people will be fine. There is no need for you to intervene.” Those who hide this message in plain sight expect the masses to generalize this resignation into real life, where little girls are behaving sexually far older than their years.
After watching the film, these authors discussed its implications and general message. Howell mentioned that just a minor tweak of the ending would have rendered it to be a completely different kind of movie. For example, if these girls had been taken into sex trafficking, it could easily be a film asserting the exploitive or even mortal dangers of sexual grooming amongst our youth. Had Amy’s “moment of clarity” come after a passionate and compelling intervention from a trusted adult in her life, it could have been a message to parents and guardians to be watchful and involved in their young ones’ lives—a reassurance that their intuition matters and that they are empowered to act; they’re not just being “overprotective.” The list of possibilities that would have shifted this movie’s message to one of activism rather than acceptance (and even to an embracing) of the sexualization of our youth is endless. All it would have taken would have been a statement at the end wherein the “moral of the story” or a “plan of necessary action” would compel viewers to intercede for the sake of our young people, and the entire movie would have been received differently. (Had they done so, it’s still likely that viewers would have been justifiably upset at the scandalous dance scene.)
However, the film did no such thing. As we have stated, the movie sends the message that troubled waters are normal for our youth, and they’ll eventually calm down on their own—no intervention needed.
Netflix’s response to all the backlash about Cuties was to claim the movie was an attempt to raise awareness about the over-sexualization of our youth—not to add to the problem. The organization’s co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, released a statement defending the film, saying the response to the production had been both “surprising” and the result of a cultural misinterpretation, citing the many locations in Europe where the movie met public acceptance.[viii]
However, Sarandos claimed that American reaction had been unlike that of the rest of the world—even “unique” in its outrage.[ix] Immediately following its September 9, 2020, release, the production company saw such protests as a letter from Missouri Senator Josh Hawley demanding a reply no later than September 18, 2020. In the correspondence, the senator asked questions including: “Did Netflix…take measures to ensure the protection of the physical, mental, and emotional health of child actors made to perform simulated sex acts and filmed in sexual or sexually suggestive ways?”[x] In consideration of Netflix’s representation of Cuties as a “‘social commentary’ against the sexualization of young children,”[xi] Hawley’s questions make a series of valid points. Other of his inquiries included a demand to know why a movie that features “a range of issues including religion, culture, and social media” was marketed with “a poster solely depicting scantily clad preteens in sexually suggestive positions.”[xii] Interestingly, as Netflix asserted that the film had been played in other countries with acceptance, one may find it interesting that Hawley insisted on an answer for why Netflix chose “to market this film with a poster different from the French original, which depicts children throwing confetti into the street.”[xiii]
Good question, Senator. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that there is an attempt to shape the public toward accepting the pedophilia occurring in the States, and the agenda that has either created or adopted this film has procured a new tool via its visibility. The buzz that has surrounded the movie, in addition to its scandalous content, has created a breeding ground allowing the conversation of pedophilia to polarize. It fosters several types of manipulation tactics geared toward bringing acceptance of such content to the center of mainstream media, which will incite impassioned arguments for both sides of the issue (more on this later).
In October of 2020, the state of Texas brought child pornography charges against Netflix, indicting the company for the “promotion of lewd visual material” of girls under the age of eighteen, due to the graphic and intentional “exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child.”[xiv] Some may wonder how the film provoked such specific charges, when so many forms of media objectify children. The Washington Times’ elaboration of the scenes shed light on the matter by describing the movie’s graphic scenes as including “group twerks, mouth gestures, ground humping…hip grinding…and other sexualized moves that the girls are sometimes depicted as only half-understanding.”[xv]
As we’ve stated, if the glimpses of the future captured in movies and television programs of the past are at all comparable to events and circumstances of our present lives (and we believe this is often true), then what we consider mere entertainment now has the potential of giving us a look at our own future. For this reason, it’s important for us to scrutinize and vet the content of present-day movies, books, television shows, magazines, and even marketing campaigns in order to protect our future generations.
UP NEXT: Conditioning Our Children to be Sexually Exploited
For more information on the topics covered in this article series, see the book DARK COVENANT by Donna Howell and Allie Anderson, available below:
[i] Actors Lowell Byers (boyfriend) and Ted Yudain (doctor), Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear, horror anthology film, “See” segment, 27:07–36:37, written and directed by Miko Hughes, broadcast on Chiller Network May 31, 2013, released to Blu-ray October 22, 2013.
[ii] Aaron Dykes, producer, Midsommar: Initiation into the Ancient Religion of the Future. (Truth Stream Media, Cedar Park, TX; 2019).
[iv] Knibbs, Kate. “No, This Website Won’t Actually Make Salami Out of Famous People.” Time. February 28, 2014. https://newsfeed.time.com/2014/02/28/celebrity-meat-bite-labs-fake/.
[v] Merchant, Brian. “The Guy Who Wants to Sell Lab-Grown Salami Made of Kanye West Is ‘100% Serious.’” Vice Online. February 26, 2014. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.vice.com/en/article/kbz8ky/the-guy-who-want-to-sell-you-salami-made-out-of-james-franco-are-100-serious.
[vii] Cuties: Trivia. IMDB Online. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9196192/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv.
[viii] Morton, Victor. “’Surprising’ Backlash: Netflix Co-CEO Defends ‘Cuties’.” Washington Times. October 12, 2020. Acccessed November 20, 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/oct/12/ted-sarandos-netflix-co-ceo-defends-cuties-misunde/.
[x] Hawley, Josh. Letter to Reed Hastings, Chief Executive Officer, Netflix, Inc. United States Senate. September 11, 2020. Retrieved on November 20, 2020. https://twitter.com/HawleyMO/status/1304503913606000640/photo/1.
[xi] Spangler, Todd. “Netflix Defends ‘Cuties’ as a ‘Social Commentary’ Against Sexualization of Young Children.” September 10, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://variety.com/2020/digital/news/netflix-defends-cuties-against-sexualization-young-girls-1234766347/.
[xii] Hawley, Josh. Letter to Reed Hastings.
[xiv] Morton, Victor. “Netflix Indicted on Child Porn Charges over ‘Cuties.’” Washington Times. October 6, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/oct/6/netflix-indicted-child-porn-charges-over-cuties/.