Exposing an ancient system of psychological coercion
By M. Dolon Hickmon
My parents were converted to the Baptist brand of fire-and-brimstone Christianity in the late 1970s. Consequently, my own religious indoctrination took place roughly in time with the rise and peak of the 1980s slasher-film frenzy. Having been younger than age ten during that time, I was sensibly prevented from watching movies like Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve and its American derivatives Halloween, Friday the 13th and Sleep-Away Camp.
But unlike towering roller coasters, which my older brother was permitted to ride, slasher films were not merely too scary for a young boy; they were (according to our pastor’s sermons) inhabited by demons, which would possess the souls of any who dared the slightest contact.
Our pastor’s fiery-eyed warnings caused me to become terrified of the back corner of our local VHS video rental store. This fear was so extreme that my skin crawled and my shorthairs stood on end each time I walked the stretch of sidewalk at the side of their building.
Through dusty plate glass, I could see the yellowing corner of a melamine shelf, tucked between a unisex bathroom and a bead-curtained closet (stocked with pornos). From afar, the red splashed horror-film covers threatened me. I imagined demons emanating from the videotapes like toxic radiation, climbing over each other, teeth snapping and claws clicking as their wizened fingers pried at my mind. I rebuked them in Jesus’ name, but I didn’t stand around while I did it: I bound those evil spirits as I sprinted past.
Other objects were similarly infected: Demons lurked in UPC codes on boxes of Fruity Pebbles and bottles of Pepsi Cola; backward-masked messages supernaturally appeared in the lyrics of heavy-metal bands, driving teens to strangle puppies and chop-up their parents. I was taught to believe that dark spiritual forces were bent on controlling me: through He-Man toys, Dungeons and Dragons cartoons, and via the jukebox at the local laundromat….
Read the rest of Blood, Bibles and Videotapes by M. Dolon Hickmon at The Freethinker.