As a Satanic content creator, I am constantly thinking about how what I produce effects others’ understanding and perception of Satanism as a religion. From the essays I write which are shared throughout social media to the videos I produce that are liked and commented on, I try to represent Satanism in the way I perceive it. But what am I saying about myself in the process?
Do people consume this content and believe they are in some way connecting with me as an individual? By consuming this content are they in part accepting the responsibilities of its creator, me—my habits, mannerisms, thoughts and expressions? Are we what we create?
I would like to think that I have some anonymity from my audience. I want a space between us not just for myself—primarily for myself—but also for the audience. You shouldn’t care about me as the producer as much as you care about the content produced. I use a version of myself to represent the work, to package and brand it. You know, to sell it to you, but the content stands on its own, for good or ill. And the persona I adopt and display for this content is just a creation of mine, not intended to be taken as a direct version of the man I am in my personal interactions with others.
Am I in some way rationalizing this approach so I can then extrapolate it towards people in the greater world at large, so I could excuse my indulgence in the content others have created despite their wretched and illegal personal behaviors? When Roman Polanski was arrested in 1977 for sexually assaulting a 13 year old model, did the world stop watching Rosemary’s Baby, or refuse to watch The Ninth Gate 20 years later? Will you see the movie Seven or the series House of Cards differently because Kevin Spacey is accused of sexual assault? What about the near daily press coverage of other actors and comedians being accused of inappropriate or illegal behavior? Should we ban all of their creations, which have been produced with the cooperation of many individuals, or are we able to divorce the illegal and unconscionable behavior of these flawed creators from their creations? And by making such a separation of the creations from the creators, are we in some way justifying that behavior?
No. I don’t think we should make the creations disappear, and I don’t think we justify that appalling behavior by finding value in things made by people who have acted improperly towards others. We are not making political statements simply because of the content we consume to be entertained. And equally, we do not need to accept this behavior if we find value in these works. Our actions of turning on a movie, reading a book or listening to music are not tacit approvals of all the behaviors their creators have exhibited, good or bad. We need to stop looking at everything we do as some justification for other’s behavior and focus on ourselves, focus on our own motivations and expressions.
As a Satanist I take responsibility for my own actions in life, I do not take responsibility for the doings of others. I refuse to accept that I support Harvey Weinstein’s illegal behavior because I will continue to watch Pulp Fiction. But I will speak out against said behavior if the proper opportunity comes up. I don’t have to be a cheerleader for the destruction of others, they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it themselves. As a Satanist I find my time and energy best directed to my own ends, and in the end, that is the only way I will be able to be in control of my own life.
We are not what we create, but we are responsible for it. We can admire creations without endorsing every act of the people who made them. Judge the creation for what it is, and if the persons who made it are less than admirable, then that understanding reveals a sad truth about the imperfect nature of human beings.