Trend of the Devil (is a Trend of Mine)

Zeitgsty
12 min readSep 19, 2023

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Image made using Dall-E

Since the very inception of religious thought, one imagery has remained both alluring and terrifying: the devil. Picture this — ages ago, when our ancestors were just beginning to make sense of the world and our place in it, the devil was already there, lurking in the shadows.

Why? Because where there’s light, there’s darkness. And where there’s a hero, there’s a villain. The yin to our yang, if you will.

Now, I know you may be rolling your eyes at yet another devil piece. Totally understood. For many, especially those deeply rooted in Christianity, this could be a touchy subject. Look, I respect that. I really do.

So, if horned creatures and satirical takes on the underworld make you queasy, it’s probably best to bounce out of here. Funnily enough, I grew up Jewish. The whole “Satanic panic” wasn’t exactly part of my Sunday School (well, I didn’t have that either) lessons.

But what truly intrigues me, and what should probably intrigue you, is why this fiendishly charismatic character has endured the test of time. Just like the eternal duality of yin and yang, our world seems fixated on the dichotomy of good versus evil. But here’s the twist. In today’s age, the lines blur, and what’s considered “evil” is wildly subjective.

Our culture is riding a wave of devil-inspired… well, everything. Fashion, music, movies — you name it. And no, I’m not forgetting the juicy conspiracy theories either. They’re sprinkled generously throughout our collective psyche, each adding fuel to the already raging satanic fire.

Want an expert’s take? Here’s a snippet from someone at DTS Trends giving us the lowdown.

So, what’s the deal? Are we on the hunt for some long-lost mystical mojo? Trying to revive our numb emotional reflexes? Or, perhaps we’re just bored with our wardrobes and need a bit of a hellish twist? The other possibility, of course, is that there’s a grand conspiracy at play. But let’s hold onto that thought. I may hold a soft spot for conspiracies, but we’ll unpack that can of worms another time.

Stay with me as we venture through the devilish turns of this trend. Who knows? We might just find out we’ve all got a little bit of devil in us. After all, isn’t variety the spice of life? Or in this case, the inferno. 🔥

The spiritual revolution and the devil’s footprints

Let’s start with a bit of real-talk: The decline of religion in the U.S.?

Not exactly earth-shattering news. But before you go assuming it’s just an American thing, brace yourself because the digital age has made the world one big interconnected village.

Thanks to our good ol’ world wide web, trends, ideals, and, yes, even spirituality (or lack thereof) can spread faster than you can say “hallelujah”. An Ipsos survey, conducted across 26 countries in 2023, showed that a meager 40% believe in the God from holy scriptures. Another 20% tip their hat to some higher spirit or force, but not the one in religious texts.

Meanwhile, 21% are straight-up spiritual skeptics, and the remaining 19%? Well, they’re either playing coy or really haven’t figured it out yet. Do the math and you’ll find we’re living in a majority non-religious world.

Now, here’s a fun tidbit. While you might imagine the tech-savvy youngsters being the least religious, it’s the Boomers clocking in at 55%. Meanwhile, Millennials and Gen Z are scoring higher, both at 63%. These young guns are channeling spirituality in a different direction. Talking of those vibing with a higher spirit but not exactly a religious God: 20% are Boomers, 20% Millennials, and 22% belong to Gen Z.

Sure, some blame the pandemic or those oh-so-public Church scandals, but I’d bet my last dollar this shift’s been brewing for a while.

Consider this: according to PRRI, just 16% of Americans say religion is numero uno in their lives. A drop from 20% a decade ago. Even Sunday Mass isn’t pulling the crowds. Current church attendance figures? A cool 10% down from 2012. NPR drops another bombshell: the once-a-week religious service attendees have decreased from 19% in 2019 to a mere 16%. Another 13% are in the “few times a year” club.

But wait, there’s more! I’ve noticed an uptick in “witchy” consumerism ever since AHS introduced us to a brand-new kind of witch in season 3. We’ve got WitchTok (because why not?). And let’s not forget the rise of witchcraft, which encompasses Wicca, paganism, and other New Age paths. In truth, it’s becoming quite the spiritual trendsetter in the U.S.

Helen A. Berger, a top-tier expert on modern witchcraft in America, mentions to NBC News, “It’s clearly increasing”. And this isn’t just about witches and broomsticks. Delve into quantum entanglement, the star of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics. It suggests that objects, even miles apart, can influence each other. Sound mystical? 🔮 Then there’s the mindfulness trend, akin to spells, promoting self-care through deep breathing and guided meditations.

Berger traces Wicca’s American journey back to the 1960s. Fueled by feminists, environmentalists, and seekers of a less-structured spirituality. It remained largely underground until the 1980s and 1990s when pop culture, with its Charmed and The Craft, propelled it into the youth’s radar. The internet and the decline in traditional religious affiliations? Ironically, they’ve made witchcraft downright mainstream.

And oh, Satanists didn’t want to be left behind. The largest ever congregation of devil worshippers in Boston this year says it all.

So, the bottom line? Organized and traditional religion might be seeing darker days, but alternative forms of spirituality are catching the spotlight. As for the devilish imagery becoming mainstream and, dare I say, sexy? Maybe we’re just not that scared anymore. Maybe we’re all just looking for a bit of magic–something intangible–in our lives.

After all, who said rebellion couldn’t be spiritual? 🤘🏼

When pop culture puts on the red horns

Image made using Dall-E

Oh, the sweet allure of the occult in music. It’s always been a spicy ingredient. Why, you ask? For the same reason we have a gazillion love songs — it’s tantalizing, mystifying, and quite frankly, a bit naughty. 😏

Let’s dive into the modern pantheon of “Satanic” pop stars.

Lady Gaga: The OG of contemporary devil chic. Remember her meat dress from the 2010 MTV Music AWARDS? Now, that was some rare fashion. Even before that iconic moment, she’d embraced a style that was, let’s say, a little devil-may-care.

Not everyone was here for it, though. She got so edgy that she was branded “Satanic” and subsequently banned from performing in Indonesia by some conservative Muslim groups. I bet she wore that ban like a badge of honor. As for her Superbowl performance in 2017? Let’s just say she got some conservatives’ knickers in a twist, with the likes of InfoWars founder (and resident nutcase), Alex Jones, labeling her the “spawn of Satan.”

Hilarious, really.

Then we had Lil Nas X with his “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” in 2021. A video that can only be described as a queer fever dream of the best variety — complete with a pole ride to hell, a serenade for Satan, and leather thigh-boots. While the religious community nearly had a collective heart attack, Lil Nas X remained unbothered, quipping, “Me sliding down a CGI pole isn’t what’s destroying society.” Preach, Nas! And if that wasn’t enough, he even dropped those blood-infused Nikes.

Sam Smith had their own moment in the spotlight with their “Unholy” performance at the Grammys. But here’s the kicker — the REAL news was that Sam Smith and Kim Petras made history as the first nonbinary and transgender winners, respectively, of a Grammy. Yet, the focus? Sam’s devilish antics on stage.

This outrageous cycle of outrage is nothing new though. Paul Corupe, writer and editor, noted a similar uproar in the ’80s. Fast-forward, and it seems history loves a rerun.

Then, we have Doja Cat. Now, she’s been serving us beats since 2012, but her recent track, “Paint the Town Red”, takes the cake for devilish flair. Between the catchy lyrics and her dark aesthetics in the music video, it’s a devilish treat for the eyes and ears.

Some argue she’s “embracing evil.” I argue she’s embracing genius branding with a side of cheeky self-awareness. As for being a Satan worshiper? Getting marked by Satan at her 27th birthday party? Nope, likely not. After all, she’s made statements squarely opposing these claims.

In essence, all this embracement of the devil? It seems like good, old-fashioned branding, creativity, and a sprinkle of rebellion. It’s artists pushing boundaries and, in the process, giving a massive middle finger to societal norms. So, next time you see an artist don the red horns, remember, they’re just dancing with the devil.

A hellscape of fashion trends and outrage

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Fashion, darling! It’s ever-evolving and, occasionally, bewildering. Think: furry nails, plastic dresses, and LED eyelashes. But isn’t that the charm of fashion? It’s a bold declaration of the times we live in, a shocking spectacle, and sometimes just a cash grab.

Now, if you’ve been around the block, you’d know music has had its fair share of Satan-gate. But fashion? Honey, it’s following suit.

Remember when the fashion realm began this year with the subtle event titled “The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming”? Hosted by the American LGBTQ+ Museum and New-York Historical’s Center for Women’s History? It was a delightful mishmash of fashion, witchcraft, and queer subcultures. And let’s be clear: witches don’t necessarily equate to demons (except if you’re asking the particularly religiously fervent). But as they say, it’s a “slippery slope”. Frankly, if this slope has fabulous shoes, count me in!

Moving on, let’s talk Superbowl. No, not for the touchdowns or the guacamole dip. Rhianna’s outfit. Some bowed down, calling it “powerful,” while a few murmured, or rather shouted, “satanic.” Our dear conservative author, Brigitte Gabriel, piped up about this being a continuous trend, especially post-Sam Smith’s Grammy devilry. But Twitter, being Twitter, swiftly ensured she was served a slice of sarcasm pie.

Enter New York Fashion Week. A paradise for fashionistas and a bedlam for, well, many. Julia Fox (my absolute queen) strutted for Luis De Javier, flaunting what I’d call “demonic chic” with horn-studded nipples. The Uncut Gems star draped herself in a strapless blue denim dress, crowned with a pair of what seemed like avant-garde antlers. Classic Julia. She jazzed it up with her trademark black latex gloves and denim booties. A nod to her dominatrix days? Perhaps.

Finally, if you haven’t noticed, red is scorching this season. But this isn’t just any shade of red. It’s part of the larger “demonic fashion” umbrella. We’re talking horns, those claw-like nails, and outfits that scream BDS&M more than “Sunday brunch.”

In summary, is fashion being lured by Lucifer or just being its typical audacious self? Either way, one thing’s for sure: If Hell is this stylish, I might not mind the heat.

Deciphering the Satanic Panic 2.0

Ah, conspiracy theories. We’ve finally gotten the sorta-fun part. The devil’s equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet for the misinformed. Remember that delicious tidbit from The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Probably the mantra of every armchair conspiracist out there.

Aliens, weather control (although, let’s be real, global warming’s the real puppet master there), and the enigmatic plane lady. If you’ve been living on Mars or something, have a peek at plane lady’s antics below.

And where do these conspiracy delicacies flourish? The likes of TikTok and Reddit, of course — ideal petri dishes for the most outlandish of tales.

Now, who can forget the dark cloud that was the “Astroworld tragedy”? A satanic-themed concert by Travis Scott where an unthinkable stampede claimed the lives of eight fans aged 14 to 27. Conspiracies ran wild, painting Scott as a devil-worshiping puppet master. But between us? I’m more inclined to think he was just careless about his fans.

Then there’s the darling of pop music, Taylor Swift, who’s been dragged into the devil’s narrative. The conspiracy? Taylor looks suspiciously like Zeena LaVey, the daughter of the man who founded the Church of Satan in 1966. Thus, Taylor’s an Illuminati clone — ta-da! But statistically speaking, the odds of having a lookalike? Around 0.74%. Given Swift’s omnipresent media coverage, someone was bound to make the devilish connection.

And just because we love to debunk, here’s our beloved T-Swift channeling her inner demon, or just having fun. You decide.

Let’s not forget the pièce de résistance of conspiracy theories, QAnon. Their narrative? A shadowy cabal performing satanic rituals, eerily mirroring the 1980s’ conspiracy theories. The sheer ludicrousness is truly a marvel.

But the bigger question should really be, why are we so obsessed with Christian notions of the devil, especially when many conspiracists aren’t even religious? Maybe it’s a mix of boredom, escapism, and the allure of the absurd. Just like in the days of the original Satanic Panic, where goths were vilified for not conforming, today’s targets are simply edgier folks rebelling against societal norms.

Instead of hyperventilating over the latest celeb-endorsed devilish attire or CGI pole dances, maybe it’s time to scrutinize real societal issues. After all, the real menace here? Maybe those pesky digital demons pulling at virtual strings.

Concluding thoughts on dissecting our collective obsession

Remember those fuzzy images people swear have the face of Jesus on them? Maybe our cultural obsession with devilish details is a similar optical illusion. Perhaps we’re squinting so hard, we’re convincing ourselves there’s more to it than there is.

Need proof? Dive into this blast from the past: Missouri’s Satanic Panic Archive.

It’s easy to quip about devil-worshipping, as Jess C. Scott eloquently mused: “If money’s the god people worship, I’d rather go worship the devil instead.” But let’s not forget — the Satanic Panic is a re-run. Think back to the 80s and 90s, when wild tales of “satanic ritual abuse” spun out of control. Those stories often pointed fingers at innocent daycare centers and falsely condemned teenagers like the West Memphis Three, all because of their taste in dark clothes and music.

Dig a bit deeper into those hysterical headlines and you’ll uncover a twisted foundation: overzealous law enforcement, coerced testimonies from children, and leading interrogations by therapists and prosecutors with a hunger for scandal. The consequence? Lives ruined, some still behind bars for crimes that probably never occurred. And the West Memphis Three? Their 18-year-long nightmare eventually ended, but it remains a testament to the dangers of unchecked paranoia.

Why revisit such dark chapters? To drive home a point: Our inability to distinguish between art and true evil can have serious implications. And honestly? You’re probably safer around someone rocking horns and red leather than you might be with the everyday Joe next door.

Satan’s enduring symbolism touches on rebellion, defiance, temptation, ambiguity, social critique, existentialism, cultural commentary, and the human psyche. Sounds intriguing, right? Because it’s a reflection of us. It’s humanity in its rawest, most “shameful” form. Our collective fear seems more like we’re running scared from our own shadows.

So, next time you see a devilish ensemble or art piece, maybe take it with a grain of salt. Revel in the theatrics, enjoy the narrative. It’s all a performance. We ought to focus less on imagined shadows and more on embracing the full spectrum of our humanity.

After all, isn’t it better to confront our fears than let them rule us?

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Zeitgsty

Zeitgeisty = your compass to the culture cosmos. 🔭 Ideal for the marketer's muse, the journalist’s journal, or if you just love being culturally in the know.