Hail Satan? Is a challenging film. But so is any venture or quest that exposes the “true Dark Lord.”
Hail Satan? is a challenging film in many respects.
It’s not the filmmaking that makes this so. It successfully tackles many perspectives in a short runtime.
Director Penny Lane creates a seamless narrative, that in some senses, is sublime in the way it unravels the two factions that once worked together to protest the neoliberal midcentury constructs that rose under the institution of the Eisenhower era “God” showing them for what they are on their own in terms of social power demystified.
It’s hard to say that Rationalist Satanism is ever in fact,”just trolling,” in this sense unless you separate it as a cause from its profound political implications in the history of American Satanisms hailing back to the Gilded Age and various firefights for women’s rights under numerous movements that branded themselves in terms of Witchcraft and Luciferianism to counter Augustinian religious views that championed man’s supremacy in social and legal spheres.
The Satanic Temple, after all is, the only organization in our present time legally fighting for a religious exemption for the right to abortion in a truly organized manner, thanks to Stu De Haan’s effort — though individual clergy in certain areas of the country with tight bans poised in legislature have been tapped and asked to attempt to provide “religious sanctuary” space and adjacent legal cover in the event bans do pass.
Full Disclosure: This reviewer and her hastily formed “Church of the Elohist Thelema” were among members in this coalition poised to take up this function if we didn’t lobby in Texas successfully enough.
The critical contribution Penny Lane’s lens brings to the canon of 21st century cinema is easily defined as this crucial documentation of a religious protest sect that in some senses, single-handedly takes on an increasingly fundamentalist government and American consciousness.
Her documentary Hail Satan chronicles a massive ideological split found in a religious institution established to protect the ideas that drive the right to open expression and protest as they have established themselves in the Obama era forward. This is of course not ignoring their origins from the Punk and Metal eras in their infancy, considering figures like Jello Biafra and almost every single niche Metal band with a politique too rough for an established political position in terms of either libertarianism or socialism (that isn’t deliberately White supremacist).
The divides between membership are compellingly documented as those members that are willing to openly depose government for the sake of indigenous peoples’ rights quite violently can no longer sit well with simple argumentation for First Amendment rights and a right to private debauchery without major consequence.
These reasons are varied. Post-Eugenics era Roe vs. Wade protections are something the indigenous of the U.S never were fully granted. The Federal Government was more intent on sterilization and adoption programs that erased tribal identities in the 20th century than reproductive choice, and there is reasonable argumentation that state governments have taken up that fight where federal governments have left off. Fighting for these issues in established structure alone is useless to this population that Jex Blackmore insists should require the action of killing Donald Trump, for freedom, as part and parcel of the Resistance movement no matter how admittedly ill-advised it is to state that any organization has such a goal.
The dangerous implications of such an action are certainly something to separate one’s self from as an organization, as a means of survival, but what is the counter strategy? God certainly can’t be trusted.
Where this film turns especially interesting is how Eisenhower’s “God” is fully described as contrived in the 1950’s, but only Jex Blackmore can speak clearly regarding this religious construct’s literal creation of scores of undocumented slaves in our factory farm system as Hail Satan describes her downfall.
The U.S. has quite honestly created untold classes of undocumented workers, who are increasingly and alarmingly suffering the fate of slaves in sex-work and food systems. They are treated equally to victims of a Holocaust with all of its neoliberal trapping in most cogent, accepted political arguments — as a property that can be dropped off in sanctuary cities. They are sometimes children.
Satanism, in this context, against “Nazism” is not new — and was very popular in the WWII era iconography found in pulp and comic franchises. When considering The Satanic Temple’s “Baphomet” deployed beside an Eisenhower-era Ten Commandments monument, it’s almost holy, if one understands anything about Masonic symbols whatsoever.
Baphomet just wants to share some secrets the Augustinians killed off in 325 A.D. about the true nature of religious pluralism and Christianity’s original universalist relationship to the rest of world religion in consideration of Religious Heterodoxy. He obscures the gateway to “Truth” Templars protected should anyone consider religion adjacent to truth — for those too afraid to access it — as these positions were preserved in North American relaunches of Christianity in the era of Swedenborg, far away Rome’s absolutist clutches.
The cause of religious pluralism is a cry for a return to an era before the Military-Industrial Complex outgrew our country and became an international neoliberal factory problem that has enslaved children world wide in ways no concentrated effort of politic can halt.
How does a movement to consider the lowest of the working classes that is routinely villainized through fundamentalist perceptions of American Satanisms and made holy through South American Marxist Liberation Theologies actually gain momentum (without threatening real danger to figures of authority)?
It’s hard to say. Penny Lane, perhaps unwittingly, creates an important window into this argument in its contemporary setting. How far is too far to go to free a tent city full of the interred from a factory or a farm with no OSHA protections? Is the Trump administration right drop them off in a sanctuary city full of sweatshops? This might be a safer question to ask than “how do we unseat a president representative of every mid-century atrocity committed against a person with indigenous ancestry most quickly?”
It’s just too hard to say.
We just know this can’t be the same organization without Jex — and unless sectors of established or ascendant American Religion are truly ready to take up her fight in terms of Marxist and Post-Marxist strategy — the children of the undocumented who have slaved for food will eternally be crying “Bless Me, Ultima” waiting for documentation forever detained from them, lying “Under the Feet of Jesus.”
Jex Blackmore might as well be in league with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, considering the entire situation.