Doja Cat's most recent video (pictured above) deals with a number of devilish themes from literal demons, sleep paralysis, and various horror tropes.
I want to emphasize there's virtually zero chance Uzi, Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Sam Smith, or any other mainstream figure is a practicing Satanist.
A moral panic is a phenomenon observed throughout history and involves a party having an unreasonable fear of an evil individual/group that will ultimately negatively affect society. This often gives rise to persecution of said 'out-group' in which they are unjustly oppressed to maintain the status quo.
Take, for instance, Van Luijk's research on the 'Witch Trials,' where he found 30,000-50,000 individuals were executed due to supposed satanic ties, though the vast bulk of those accused were presumed innocent by the majority of academics involved(1).
Moral panic at its root are fear-based and often associated with the dominant ruling class fearing the out-group (often a minority group). The influence of the Christian Church has been lessening in recent history but is now rising again due to the ideals expressed in Christian Nationalism and right-wing extremism.
Christian Nationalism is the idea that the United States is a Christian Nation, and we preserve it by having our laws and structure reflect that.
I think it goes without saying the US is still a Christian nation, even though there are provisions in the constitution, specifically the 'Free Exercise Clause' in the 'Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom' that reject this.
Christianity has been used to justify the fear-based exploitation of different minority groups; African-American slavery and the Indigenous Genocide are some of the most glaring examples. Simply put, nationalistic ideologies of any kind often lead to negative outcomes for the out-group.
Fast forward to the modern day...
Christian Nationalism is rising in the United States due to...
- Increased representation of the LGBTQIA+ community
- Decline in Church attendance / rejection of Christianity / rise of personal spiritual practices + Atheism + Agnosticism.
- Right-wing extremism
- Conspiracy theories like 'The Great Replacement Theory'
- Globalization fears of 'other'
- Christian Persecution Complex
With that context out of the way, let's examine the music industry and how Satanism fits into this picture. Modern-day Atheistic Satanism only exists to combat religious extremism and the separation of church and state in the United States.
Additionally, most Satanists don't even believe in any of the miracles or spiritual beliefs associated with Satan in Judeo-Christian terms. Vice did a great documentary exploring the Satanic temple in this light (embedded below).
Yes, some historical sects (primarily pre-1800s) of Satanism practiced all the horrible things Christians have claimed. Those acts are morally / ethically appalling; however, modern-day Satanism is more comparable to scientific rationalism than anything else. I actually spoke to a 'self-proclaimed' Satanist outside of a show recently and they have echoed this same sentiment.
One of the most apparent cultural developments in the last couple of years in the United States has undoubtedly been the narratives associated with the LGBTQIA+ community. A substantial portion of Christians still believe non-heterosexual individuals should, 'Burn in Hell for all of Eternity.'
Now, when Lil Nas X comes out with a video twerking on Satan, you can quickly see how all of this fits together.
I don't believe Hollywood is run by Devil worshipers (shocker, I know) it's a mix mash of different cultural groups and persons from across the globe.
It still begs the question why are artists doing this? I think that artists are doing this for two reasons.
1) Freedom of Artistic Expression
As I outlined, Christian Nationalism has brought about substantial global problems involving out-groups. We're lucky enough now that people who don't fit the dominant hegemonic class can be represented in mainstream media.
Reactionary content like MONTERO makes it so these artworks are covered further in-depth through media channels. With outlets covering these 'controversies,' it brings more eyeballs to under-represented individuals. This has happened repeatedly in art, where individuals have questioned the status quo in a provocative manner.
(It's also important to note that the LGBTQIA+ community is not one homogenous group and many disagree with this video's Satanic theme.)
This process has already repeated itself with the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Council) Senate hearings in 1985 involving Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. He, along with several other artists, were accused of Satanism. Outcomes from this trial allowed for flexibility of artistic intent and allowed for individuals to express themselves more freely, devoid of Christian 'moral' pressures.
The more this 'Christian Nationalism' belief is questioned, the more society is uplifted in the United States. Those who are under-represented will more freely be able to exist, and artistic expression will not be confined to someone else's societal fantasies.
2) Media Outrage Cycle Brings Views To Artists
I don't think Lil Uzi or Doja Cat need to use Satanic imagery to be successful artists (since they're already mega stars); however, this cycle helps.
Doja Cat even stated on Feb. 6th (in a now-deleted Tweet), 'This illuminati shit is so funny to me I'm gonna keep doing deliberate weird ass shit just to make those people uncomfortable. I've fr found a new outlet of joy(2).'
The foundation of all spiritual + religious inquiry is an innate fear of death. People begin to act out of fear when you question strong-held religious convictions. It's much easier for some people to live a life and say that everything you disagree with is evil.
But rather than preach the hate and distrust of individuals whose lives you know nothing about, it's essential to understand where these ideas and themes come from. Concepts are not things to cling to but rather to shed; the world is more infinitely complicated than we know.
This is not to defend Satanism but rather to support freedom of artistic liberty. Cultural phenomenons like Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter, or numerous violent video games would not exist if this 'moral' force had succeeded. These entities have overwhelmingly brought joy to people and been a net positive for humanity even though they have satanic or occult references.
Next time you see something you disagree with, try to understand where they're coming from rather than just writing their creative expressions off as evil or exaggerating its influence. We gain nothing in society from living in this fear-based persecution complex.
To summarize, none of the aforementioned artists (Doja Cat, Lil Uzi, Lil Nas X, or Sam Smith) are Satanic. These Satanic themes stem from freedom of artistic expression & are made to bring reactionary views towards their creative works.
This same concept could apply to artists referencing the occult, conspiracy theories, cults, etc.
"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it."