Saturday 11 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Satan Loves You

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Genre - Humor / Fantasy 
Rating - PG13
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Page 99 of Satan Loves You might just be the most boring page of my book. I’m quite proud of it, but many parents are proud of their children and, I hate to say it, but unless they are extraordinarily gifted natural athletes or preternaturally beautiful, your children are boring to others until they are old enough to get arrested or date inappropriately. Sorry, parents! 

To bring you up to speed so that you can understand just how boring this particular page 99 is, the story so far! Satan is depressed and as a result Hell has become a toxic work environment. The Heavenly Host has decided to take it over and rebrand Hell to make it more people-friendly and thus increase their profits (money turns out to be something you can take with you). Satan resists their efforts, because it’s in his nature to be a pain in the ass. However, Heaven is sneaky and there seems to be an orchestrated series of unfortunate events that befall Satan, just like in a Lemony Snicket book! One of these events is that he is sued by someone who claims they were a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Page 99 of Satan Loves You was a way for me to dump some info on the reader about this Satanic Ritual Abuse case via an episode of Swift Justice with Nancy Grace (now canceled, but I wanted my book to be similar to reality, not exactly the same). It features Nancy Grace outlining the stakes of the case, along with guest commentators like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I keep hoping that this will seem dated to readers, but for some reason people still give airtime to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Nancy Grace.

I grew up in the 80’s and remember the Satanic Panic and its wild allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse fondly. Stories of underground Satanic churches located beneath daycare centers, rumors of Satanists kidnapping and impregnanting children so they could sacrifice their babies, women chained up by Satanic cults and forced to have group sex - even at the time I could feel a huge disconnect between the lurid, puply, clearly fictional accusations, and the degree of seriousness with which they were being greeted. It was like the world had split in two and a fictional reality was being superimposed on everyday life. The stupider and more extreme an accusation was, the more seriously it was taken. 

During the panic, Geraldo investigated the “Satanic underground” and the McMartin preschool trial inspired over 100 preschools across the country to report everything from children being abducted by hot air balloon and taken to orgies at car washes presided over by cult leader Chuck Norris, to children being flushed down toilets into underground lairs where they were forced to eat human flesh. And adults believed this.

I’ve worked as a journalist for a long time, and now I understand why these allegations were taken seriously by the media: if it bleeds, it leads is not just a clever rhyme. Great national tragedies inspire the vast journalistic community to completely take leave of their common sense. When a great national tragedy occurs all editors want are stories about said tragedy, and that’s fine for writers on the breaking news beat, but it leaves those who do cultural coverage in a very strange position. 

In the wake of the Aurora cinema shootings, I’ve already been approached a couple of times by outlets that want me to give quotes or write something about how violence in the media inspires real world violence. I’ve even been guilty of it myself, writing a piece about the Korean movie, Oldboy, four days after the Virginia Tech Shootings. A copy of the movie had been found in the shooter’s room and commentators were blaming it for inspiring the murders. I wrote a piece about how there was no connection between the movie and the killings whatsoever, but even so, it was a tacky lapse of taste on my part, and I’ll forever have to share a pair of pants with the guy who took advantage of the deaths of others to make $500. 

Some readers have said that Satan Loves You is over the top, some readers have called my writing ridiculous, and I agree that sometimes I write things that are stupid (or boring: see page 99) but nothing will ever be as tasteless, ridiculous, and unrealistic as real life. It has a way of making even my most outlandish imaginings obsolete. 

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