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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,760,923  

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Question of the Week: 11 - 10/16/2000

Hollywood Hype

Hollywood Hype through movies such as "The Craft" and now the "Blair Witch" movies, and television shows such as "Charmed", "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer". "Freakylinks" and "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch," have all contributed to the rise of public interest in the Pagan paths and especially Witchcraft. If someone came to YOU after seeing "The Craft", "Charmed" or "Blair Witch," etc., what do YOU want them to know about real Witchcraft and Paganism? What would YOU-or do YOU- tell these folks?

 Reponses:   There are 74 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

What The Producers Of Bwii Have Done Is Mixed Enough Truth With... Oct 18th. at 12:46:41 pm EDT

Khyron Provost (Concord, New Hampshire US) Age: 17 - Email

What the producers of BWII have done is mixed enough truth with pop culture so that the end product is a sort of polluted vision of one type of paganism or witchcraft. I remember explaining my beliefs to people who had seen "The Craft", and wanted me to change their hair color, or hurt their enimies with "black magic". Sabrina the Teenage Witch has done more to portray us as harmless, goofy characters who are not to be taken seriously than any efforts of the religious right. I was personally upset at the subtitle of BWII, Book of Shadows, especially after seeing the previews which, to me, seemed to portray the Wiccan(?) girl as the stereotypical Goth Queen who was bent on Carriesque revenge against her enimies, such as the plot of "The Craft" I think that a decent plot for a movie would be the story of a middle-lower class person thrying to deal with the religious intolerance that is so prevalent in America today. We are out there, and not all of us wear dark mascara, tons of jewelry, and act all sinister most of the time. Already i can forsee the barrage of inane questions about BWII, and I don't need to gaze too hard at my crystal ball to see this coming, people. Is there some organization for religious and historical accuracy out there that these people can consult before they start filming a movie? If someone knows, please mail me. Witchvox may want to take an interest, or even link to them for a while. Just a suggestion.

Hollywood Protraying Things In The Extreme? Okay Lets Put This Into Perspective... Oct 18th. at 8:20:45 am EDT

Steph (Midwest City, Oklahoma US) Age: 29 - Email

Hollywood protraying things in the extreme? Okay lets put this into perspective: If you have ever participated in politics, you know that the West Wing is a crock. If you have ever been in the military, you know the JAG is a crock. If you have ever been involved in a situation that was press worthy, you know that press covereage at best is chock full of innuendo and speculation rather than the real story, the press coverage is worse if you are on the "wrong" side. Worse yet, if you are a Native American...well say no more. The point is that these people make their money selling life as a carnival or selling a carnival as life (depending on your perceptions). I really do not see why we are surprised by films like The Craft, The Blair Witch Project, Midnight Offerings, etc., The goal of Hollywood is to profit off of strong emotional reactions of the audience. In Touched by an Angel, its through tearful reuinions with God and Country. In Charmed, its cheap thrills with Melissa Alano in a tight sweater participating in the Occult activities with her nubile sisters.
I am glad that people are taking a stand in these matters, but as long as we are subjects in the media spotlight, there will always be people who want to glamorize it, demonize it and there will always be those who are attracted to either/or prospect, because they see themselves as dull or unsuccessful and the Occult, Witchcraft, Wicca, etc., as an easy way out of life's probems.
It's important that we specify what we don't like and under what circumstances:
Is it the Escapist scenario we don't like? Then make sure that Hollywood people know, there is a lot of hard work and study in these matters.
Is it the idea that this is sometimes portrayed as a False Religion or dangerous cult, let these people know that you won't support these films if they keep minimizing the genuine values of the Pagan Community and religious traditions
Is it the use of incorrect vocabulary? Mixed traditions? The fact that all the chics are size 3 sex pots? No regular Women, No regular guys? Tell them what you want. Give them suggestions.
I personally would like to see a movie just about the Aunties in Practical magic with those same actresses. I found their characters a lot more interesting and 3D than the other women in that film.

As for when individuals become attracted to this community via Hollywod Hype? well when they show up at your door step asking questions, Tell them the truth. Truth is, that this is not for everyone. Its not about being special or chosen, its about if your personality meshes with these practices. Whether or not this religious path will give a person stability, if there is room in this practice for said individual to grow. That means study, and lots of practice. That means commitement. People who do not like that answer will eventually find their way to some other group or practice or church.

It Sucks That Hollywood Is Trashing The Wiccan Population. It Is About... Oct 18th. at 12:16:59 am EDT

David Looney BearWolf (Lexington, Missouri US) Age: 31 - Email

It sucks that hollywood is trashing the wiccan population. It is about time
for the people to get it stright and tell the truth. If thay want a real horror
show thay should tell about the Burning Times. If that don't scare the f*** out of the people nothing will. And in the process get the X-tion teck see how the fell two be shown in a bad light instead of us Wiccan!!!

I Have Just Read Through The Other Postings, And I Have Changed... Oct 17th. at 10:50:16 pm EDT

Illianna Czernes (Greenville, North Carolina US) Age: 26

I have just read through the other postings, and I have changed my opinion, somewhat. I agree that Hollywood glamourises everything, I mean Julia Roberts was a single mother of three, and out of work, but she was beautiful and well endowed, so everything worked out OK?????? So I guess I am just glad that people are TALKING about it, asking questions and some are getting the right answers. Most of the individuals who think they can "cast a spell" to make everything better will not be interested in Wicca for very long once they find out there is no "ZAP" to fix it all. I guess the only thing I wish would be portrayed more realistically is the spiritual side. We see plenty of Christians portrayed serene and happy, facing the worst life has to offer, confident in their faith, and becoming stronger for it. Witches have that too. After all we are the Children of the Shining Ones. Goddess and God bless us all.


First,i Find Out How Sincere They Are!if They Truly Want... Oct 17th. at 10:34:18 pm EDT

daiabnncya (mindenmines, Missouri US) Age: 48

first, i find out how sincere they are!if they truly want answers, i try to give them.but, if it's a joke, hocus-pocus or a kinky fad, i refer them to their local minister, where they WILL get the answers they want!Daiabnncya

Lira Pointed Out Something That I Have Been Advocating For A Long... Oct 17th. at 3:21:34 pm EDT

Daven (Nashville, Tennessee US) Age: 32 - Email

Lira pointed out something that I have been advocating for a long time, that the "witch shows" that are coming out these days are a far cry better than those that have gone before. Much better than "The Cruicible" that came out not too long ago.

Okay, I despised the Craft. It was dumb and overly dramatic, but it did do some things for us. It showed us in a more positive light than had happened up to then. Then Charmed and Practical Magick comes out and suddenly we are hip. It's cool to be a witch. And where they describe our beliefs, they actually get them right!!! My gods, they are doing a good job (mostly)!

Yes, we do need to get a show out there that shows a kitchen witch or a high Episcopagan doing a rite or ceremony, but let's face facts here, the show would never even get the pilot aired.

How many people want to sit around and stare at a TV screen at a show about a normal person? None of us do the flashy magick, we can't do telekenesis or anything like that, all of the fireworks that go on in Circle are things that can't be filmed by a camera. The Christians could yell and scream about how Roman Catholosism is being denegrated by such movies as "The Exorcist" and "The Amnetyville Horror". Those movies show them in just as bad a light.

As to the question asked, how do I deal with it? Well, I explain that it's not "flash in the pan" magick and that mostly it only affects ourselves. I go over and over it until they either get bored and leave or until they understand it. I have all the time in the world to counter misconceptions.

You know, looking back over what I wrote, perhaps if we sold it as one of those "real life" shows that are popular now. Let's see, one Dianic, one Gardnerinian, one Eclectic, one Shaman, one Druid.... offer a million dollars.... vote someone out in a Circle every week.....

Nah, it would never fly....

So Hollywood Has Not Portrayed A Segment Of Our Society In A... Oct 17th. at 3:15:29 pm EDT

Chris (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina US) Age: 34

So Hollywood has not portrayed a segment of our society in a completely accurate light - Big surprise! Talk to anyone with a glamourous job, a different background, or just an interesting life and you will inevitably hear the words, "Yes, but it's not like the movies." So it goes with the Pagan community. It is our responsiblity to attempt to correct and/or explain any misconceptions that we are presented with. Most of the tv and movie viewing public realize that you cannot change your neighbor into a rat (Sabrina), instantly change you physical appearance (The Craft) or float from the roof to the ground without breaking both of your legs (Practical Magic). This does not mean, though, that we should write these incidents off as fiction and not attempt to explain where they came from (shapeshifting, glamoury, astral travel). For the most part, these movies and shows are, at their best, recognition that we are out here, and, at their worst, opportunites that we may have not had before to educate a larger segment of society as to what we are really all about. I don't go about my daily life proclaiming that I am a witch, but I also try not to dodge an opportunity to try to explain my religion to somebody who is truly interested.

Now, having said all of this, I believe these shows and movies are guilty of perpetuating a serious misconception. The ones I have seen (The Craft, Practical Magic, Blair Witch Project, and a few episodes of Charmed, Sabrina, and Buffy) all feature female witches. More specificaly, the ones I have seen, feature caucasian female witches. We are an incredibly diverse community of all races and both genders. If our community is truly concerned about how we are portrayed in film and on tv, then we should pay close attention to this.

Oh, The Headache These Badly Written Programs Can Cause! I, Unfortunatly Have... Oct 17th. at 1:21:37 pm EDT

Sabrina (Glendale, New York US) Age: 18 - Email

OH, the headache these badly written programs can cause!

I, unfortunatly have been subject to questions about "mind powers", curses, and various Satan-related materials. My first reaction is surprise, and then a bit of anger about how the magical community is misrepresented by Hollywood. (Why can 20/20 or 60 minutes air a documentury? Good question!! I'm sure THEY would get the facts straight, and it would be viewed nationally.) I slowly start to explain, but half crack jokes and then stop listening when notice a bright shinny object. And then I get (silently) angry because they won't listen, and they're still carrying around those horrible misconseptions. They are a lost cause.

For those people who truly want to know, I explain to them what _I_ practice and beleive. I ususally explain it in terms of communicating directly with the Deity, holding nature as sacred, and how I relate to Divinity in the form of the Goddess.

But always liked with that, are questions about magick and spells. The easiest way that I can explain it is like a concentrated form of prayer. And that curses are juvinile things, never work, and aren't worth my time or energy.

I Have To Ask Anyone Out There If I Am The Only... Oct 17th. at 11:29:17 am EDT

blackthorne (Walnut Creek, California US) Age: 35 - Email

I have to ask anyone out there if I am the only one sick of seeing Paganism portrayed only in horror movies? I actually don't remember any film/tv show
that had any portrayal of the craft that was not in a horror/fantasy genre.
(The ONLY exception being one episode of "Picket Fences" and that was pretty
It's also odd that the only time you see a portrayal of any religion other that
the standard Judeo Christian belief it's either to portray a cult, a foolish
individual or to ad a air of mystery to a boring plot.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if at least one show had a pagan neighbor in a
comedy or a drama. But, that's not going to happen any time soon.
To all of you that would say I am being too sensitive, chew on this question
for a while. If witches are only seen in horror films..doesn't this help fuel
the idea that we should be feared?

I Have No Problem With The Regular Works Of Wiccan, The Readings... Oct 17th. at 9:52:48 am EDT

Joe Hancock (Maple Creek, Saskatchewan CA) Age: 41 - Email

I have no problem with the regular works of Wiccan, the readings and such being paid a fee for. A paid clergy, on the other hand, is frightening to me. I came out of a Pentecostal Church where the paid clergy elevated themselves to godlike status and milked the people for every darn cent they could. My feeling is that people should work an honest living out of our world, and let others also enjoy the fruits of their own work. These followers of what they call " The One True God " were so corrupt that I'm sure Christ would have once again made a whip and driven them out of their temples. Anyway, I would never like the idea of being in a religion with a paid clergy again for absolute power leads to absolute corruption...
Thanks and Merry Part...

I Had First Written This In The "misconceptions" Section, But Then Saw... Oct 17th. at 9:10:10 am EDT

Lira (Lunenburg, Massachusetts US) Age: 30 - Email

I had first written this in the "misconceptions" section, but then saw this question and had to get my two cents in here as well. ;)

"I would like to actually say something positive in defense of
how Witches are portrayed in The Craft, Practical Magic and Charmed. Ok, they are fluffy, popularized movies/shows rife with inaccuracies - but they all have something in common that a lot of us seem to overlook; they are not about evil hags worshipping the devil. Their heroines range from misguided (california teens meddling with power beyond their abilities - hmmm, like you've never heard of THAT happening), to benignly meddlesome (older women working ethically questionable love spells), to actually positive and beneficial (hereditary witches fighting the forces of evil, albeit a Judeo Christian model of evil).

Cut them some slack - compared to the abundant negative press that can be found demonizing and condemning Pagans, these movies/shows are the best thing to happen to us in terms of publicity for quite a while. The women portrayed live fairly "normal" lives. They don't eat babies, and in both Practical Magic and The Craft, it is specifically stated that Witches don't worship Satan.

I would like more than anything, to see a show portraying us positively AND accurately, but until such a time as Producers and TV Acquisitions execs begin holding their products to those sort of standards, I am willing to settle for positively."

Yours in the Goddess,


Well, Lets Face It Hollywood Is Entertaining, But It Is Responcible For... Oct 17th. at 9:01:41 am EDT

Michael (Dublin, European Union, Ireland) Age: 22 - Email

Well, lets face it Hollywood is entertaining, but it is responcible for a lot of lies and misconceptions. Some obvious ones are like "The Patriot", "U571", and the "The Craft", sometimes this is all just good fun, but sometimes it can be a little insulting for those represented, (ie: The Canadians and British were no doubt very angry at very obvious fabrications in The Patriot, which were invented for entertainment value, and many others were angry at seeing U571 showing the Americans capture the Enigma machine because the British Royal Navy captured it before the US even entered the war).
Pagans have the same problem as all the others who have been unfairly represented in films, we are no special case as the above mentioned films show.

It is all excusable in the name of entertainment, and it is fine if it is just that, but far too many people accept what stories they see in the cinema as fact.

The beneficial side of these movies is that they spurr some people into action, those who want to know what really happened, and what the truth is.
So the final verdict on my behalf:

Films are a great medium for communication and entertainment, but they are surprisingly lacking when it comes to educating. In the same way that those with a mind of their own, or an inquisitive mind, will always see through the dramatisations and exaggerations and then be inclined to examine the truth and truely learn.

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