The big problem with a lot of occultists is that we’re terrible snobs. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. (I’m particularly snobbish about my conspiracy theories – if you genuinely think Marina Abramovic is a Clinton-supporting necromancer then performance art is clearly not for you. Bob Ross is on Netflix. He’s probably more your speed.)
A lot of the snobbishness carries over from working in a field in which, let’s be honest, there is a lot of bullshit to wade through. Genuine critical thinking is a survival skill when it comes to dealing with some of the claims one comes across in this field, and it’s a given that this would carry over into one’s leisure time. Also, given that working with magic tends to give one a sense of just how dangerously malleable human consciousness is – and what that malleability can lead to – it’s a given that one would wish to exercise some care over what one exposes one’s consciousness to.
All of which is to say it isn’t that surprising that I, despite thinking myself a reasonably ofay cat, was unaware, until this morning, of the existence of Amish Mafia. I dont watch a lot of ‘reality TV’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one), because I know how bad it is. What I didn’t appreciate until this morning, however, was how bad it could get.
The worrying thing about Amish Mafia isn’t that it uses ‘select re-enactments’ (translation: is less real than professional wrestling). Reality shows have been doing that since forever (see the video below, which constituted my first exposure to the Amishploitation genre). The worrying thing is how and why it gets away with it.
Amish Mafia gets away with its bigoted, one-joke shenanigans because the Amish community’s prohibition of pride and suspicion of graven images prevents them appearing on television to rebut their portrayal in the show. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Yeah. The producers of this thing get away with putting out a neverending stream of wildly inaccurate distortions about the lives of a minority religious community because it is literally against that community’s religion to fight back in the media. I can’t be the only person thinking this leaves a really bad taste in my psyche, can I?
Maybe its because I grew up near Gateshead. Gateshead, in the North East of England, has a very visible Haredi Jewish community. Which means that in my younger, less confrontational days I often wound up sharing buses with members of what the media euphemise as the ‘white working class’ (for a deconstruction of which see Wilder, G., here) who found the odd-looking people with their beards and funny hats simply hilarious. I’ve seen this joke before. I think we all have.
Yeah, yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law…except that got repealed last November, remember? And besides, how much of a stretch is it, really? Sure, Amish Mafia isn’t saying something must be done about the Amish. But it is saying that it’s okay to laugh at people who look different. It is saying it’s okay to see those people as something lesser. It is teaching people a form of reaction to those who differ from them in appearance, in belief. It’s creating a pattern. It’s programming.
It’s goddam sorcery, is what it is, people.
And it’s far from the only sorcery being wrought upon us through the medium of tinkering with televised reality. The singers never shock the judges. The dream houses bankrupt their owners.The pimped rides could barely be driven. Oh, and this happened too:
We let a dangerous oxymoron fester in a corner of our living rooms. We allowed people with cameras and editing suites to define our wrecked mundanity. Haven’t you noticed how the arguments you overhear sound ever more ungenuine, more scripted? How it all just seems less and less real?
It’s because they made it all less real, when we weren’t looking. Because we were too snobbish to pay attention to them doing it.
People? We been lied to.