The documentary “Heil, Satan?” proposes a debate on the influence of Christianity in the United States, but also contains an involuntary reflection on the limits of satire.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses came calling at my door, I learned to get rid of them by answering, “No, thank you, in this house we are Satanists.” It was the most dissuasive response, since they were not trained to react to that. If you told them you were an atheist, or even if you were hostile and grumpy, they had a repertoire of instant replies to slip you a brochure. In the face of Satanism they did not know what to do. While they were stunned, you could shut the door on them without violence, as dictated by the canons of satanic courtesy.
One of the members of the Satanic Temple who participates in the documentary “Heil, Satan?” says that being a satanist is more fun than being an atheist. Atheism is a great bore with no rituals or celebrations. With satanism, you find new friends and the most devout Christians in town are scandalized.
Director Penny Lane tells a serious story that seems like a joke: the creation of a satanist religion that preaches tolerance and freedom. The reaction of Christian talk-show guests, journalists and politicians to their actions and statements is very similar to that of my Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Satanic Temple wants to incite a debate on the toxic influence of Christianity on democracy in the United States, but the film also contains an involuntary reflection on the limits of satire. I’m not talking about the limits of humor, but about its transforming ability. Let me explain: I don’t know if the Satanic Temple inspires this debate on religious freedom or is stuck in a dialectic without any possible solution between offenders and offended. My satanism only aspired to dispatch annoying visitors, and while the Temple’s is very spectacular and funny, I don’t think it will lead any fanatics to question their own fanaticism. It seems that satire, contrary to religion, preaches only to the choir. We laugh a lot with it, but when the show is over, nothing has changed.