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Satan likes Barbies

| Thursday, October 27, 2016

Would you take your daughter to a satanic concert? The majority of parents would say no. Yet this past summer, thousands of mothers took their daughters to see Selena Gomez crawling around the stage in a black, scaly jumpsuit with clawed hands and feet. These mothers also screamed and cheered with their daughters when her backup dancers started grinding on each other.

I did not attend this concert, but a disturbed friend filled me in. What kind of values were these mothers promoting for their children? Why did no one else at the concert seem uneasy? It was as if they had become desensitized to the objectification of men and women happening onstage and the strange satanic themes permeating the venue. It was as if the sheer number of mothers who took their daughters to the concert reassured other mothers that the concert was not bad. If it were that bad, how could so many mothers deem it appropriate for their children?

It is not difficult in the 21st century to go along with the celebration of immorality. With television shows unashamedly called Scandal and billboards bordering on pornographic, it is sadly not shocking that mothers accept and even encourage their daughters’ interest in popular music centered on mutual objectification. If the music is popular, if so many people enjoy and listen to it, surely it cannot be harmful. Yet trusting the preferences of the majority is a dangerous game, one that can have dire consequences politically as well as morally.

The banality of evil is a stepwise function. Little by little, we become accustomed to vice in our recreational outlets. In “The Screwtape Letters,” C. S. Lewis writes, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope … without milestones, without signposts.”

My road to hell started with the idolization of Rockstar Barbie. Rockstar Barbie was famous, the center of attention. She was beautiful, and every Ken doll knew it. She was a woman of means — able to vacation on the Caribbean coast in my kitchen sink one week and embark upon a safari in my backyard the next. When I grew up, I wanted to be just like Rockstar Barbie.

Eight years later, I became obsessed with “The Clique,” a fictional young adult series about a group of exclusive materialistic and judgmental popular girls. What mattered to those girls — status and style — began to matter to me.

But it is normal for young girls to play with Barbies and consume fictional series without substance. Surely these youthful diversions cannot harmfully imprint a heart. Yet it is modern society’s normalization of materialism and egotism that makes it so difficult to root out these vices in my heart 10 years later.

It wasn’t until I chose St. Thérèse of Lisieux as my confirmation saint 13 years later that I realized that I could have grown up fascinated with God instead of by sin. Instead of reading the nineteenth century equivalent of “The Clique,” Thérèse read “The Imitation of Christ.” In her teens, she wrote wedding invitations to her marriage with Christ instead of fan-girling over “The Bachelorette.” It is not a coincidence that St. Thérèse did not aspire to become Rockstar Barbie or the head of an exclusive clique, but to pray for missionaries and make sacrifices for Christ, no matter how insignificant.

But as satanic concerts become the new norm, is it even possible to be formed into such a saintly soul without completely isolating oneself from mainstream culture? I was doubtful until a friend filled me in on a babysitting experience. The kids played with hand-crafted dolls of the Saints as well as Barbies. “Let’s play church!” they exclaimed as they lined up their dolls for Communion. Children imitate what they see. When exposed to good, they will imitate good.

Do I regret the way I was raised? I cannot, as I don’t know who I’d be if I had played with saints dolls instead of Barbies. There’s also the risk of underexposure; if I had been raised in a more isolated household, I may not have known how to react when exposed to the “Scandal”-ous world.

What I do know is that I must be careful in selecting the toys I play with in the future. How I spend my recreational time and what I daydream about shape the rest of the story of my soul.

Last year, I was reading a best-selling fictional series about an English woman traveling through time in Scotland. It was full of compelling drama and educational history. It was also full of violence and adultery. But family members and friends had recommended the series to me, so I figured I could skim the graphic scenes to get the good out of the book without the bad.

Yet my conscience was unsettled by what I saw whilst skimming, so I talked to a priest about it. I expected him to reassure me that I was overreacting. He did not. He confirmed that I should no longer read the series, as the heroine was far from a healthy role model.

I was a bit taken aback, but grateful for his honesty. How many friends had I confided in about my unease who had reassured me that I was stuck in scrupulosity? Either they knew that what I was reading was not good for me and didn’t want to offend me, or they, like me, had rationalized their qualms away with a “you do you” relativistic morality.

There is no such thing as harmless entertainment. I, at the age of 21 as well as at the age of six, am affected by what I read, watch and listen to. Just because many other people read a book or watch a television show does not mean it is harmless.

It does not seem fun to say no to what so many other people say yes to. It is less fun, however, to root a fascination with sin out of my heart — especially one that wedged itself in there with Rockstar Barbie.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

Contact Erin
  • RandallPoopenmeyer

    Grow up.

  • Punta Venyage

    Thank you Erin for this piece. It is encouraging to see others questioning the messages being promoted by mainstream society. People who dismiss your observations lack the awareness and acuity to notice these gradual shifts, or they do not have the foresight to see the repercussions of such ideologies.

    With regards to satanic imagery, you are absolutely right. A decade ago, there were some signs, but the people who noticed would easily dismiss them as harmless imagery, especially since they weren’t as frequent. But now, the idols and producers of the entertainment industry don’t even try to hide it any more, watch almost any Beyonce/Katy Perry/Rihanna/etc. show and they are seeping with dark and disturbing symbolism, and it’s polluting our society – there is nothing about wholesome, unified family values in the entertainment industry, and I think this is done on purpose.

    The problem is that many people decide before the fact that there is no way these things are happening, and create within themselves a confirmation bias which rejects any evidence of the shifts.

    Furthermore-and I could be wrong about this-it seems that are people are more susceptible to appeals to popularity and desires to be approved of by the mass, with the prevalence of social media (the idea is “let me think of how I can post something/write/talk/behave so I can maximize my amount of “likes – whether they are virtual likes, or “likes” here on earth as well”). Subconsciously, some people’s daily activities can be generalized as consistent attempts at maximizing their likability. This is all a consequence of a divorce from truth/objectivity and a resignation to relativism, as you alluded to earlier.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if there is any macro-solution to this, other than allowing time to play out and allowing the negative consequences to manifest themselves in a critical manner. Things may have to get worse before they get better, as the cycle of history tends to show. Talking about the issues certainly helps, and I applaud you for this piece.

    The greatest strength the postmodernists/relativists/secularists have is that they appeal to the immediate pleasures – almost everything they present feels good immediately, and the long-term effects don’t really matter because then next source of pleasure is within reach, and your life becomes a series of going from one pleasure to the next without ever finding a solid underlying foundation and deep & lasting satisfaction.

    • RandallPoopenmeyer

      People who let themselves be bothered or influenced by something meaningless and arbitrary such as a concert, imagery or a simple book, are the problems themselves. Satanic imagery is subjective. Your stupid religion depicted something fictional. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you get to decide how others should react to it.

      • Punta Venyage

        Why do you think imagery is meaningless?

        Your opinion flies in the face of any public relations campaign and the field of psychology in general, so I’m curious as to what premises have led to your conclusion…

        • RandallPoopenmeyer

          What is a demon? That completely depends on the person. Demonic imagery is subjective and no one gets to say what kind of imagery is wrong.

          • Punta Venyage

            Not totally subjective. Different symbols are clearly associated with different movements (swastika, peace sign, etc.)

            Certain imagery has been established by deep history with certain ideologies and belief systems. A modern day secularist may not be familiar with it but it doesn’t change the roots of the association.

            If someone brandished a cross and used this symbolism, we would reasonably assume that they are evoking imagery of Christianity or church or religion etc… It is more of a stretch to argue that: the person who uses multiple crosses/crucifixes is not trying to evoke Christian associations and, to take it a step further, that the person with a cross is CLUELESS about the implicit association with Christianity

            In the same way when you see satanic symbolism, it’s more reasonable to call it out as it is apparently presented rather than be in denial and come up with some convoluted explanation of why the symbol is something other than what it apparently presents itself to be.

            Just because the average person may be clueless about satanic symbolism, doesn’t mean that the producers of hollywood are….

            “no one gets to say what kind of imagery is wrong.”

            Why not?

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            The swastika was widely used way before the Nazis assumed it. Your idea of “harmful” imagery differs from mine.