Inspired by the thread of Pokemon being the target of fatwa in Saudi Arabia, I remembered this confession by Mark Evanier, one of the creators of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon:
Dungeons & Dragons was a series about six kids who were transported to a dimension filled with wizards and fire-snorting reptiles and cryptic clues and an extremely-evil despot named Venger. The youngsters were trapped in this game-like environment but, fortunately, they were armed with magical skills and weaponry, the better to foil Venger's insidious plans each week. http://www.povonline.com/cols/COL145.htm
The kids were all heroic — all but a semi-heroic member of their troupe named Eric. Eric was a whiner, a complainer, a guy who didn't like to go along with whatever the others wanted to do. Usually, he would grudgingly agree to participate, and it would always turn out well, and Eric would be glad he joined in. He was the one thing I really didn't like about the show.
So why, you may wonder, did I leave him in there? Answer: I had to.
As you may know, there are those out there who attempt to influence the content of childrens' television. We call them "parents groups," although many are not comprised of parents, or at least not of folks whose primary interest is as parents. Study them and you'll find a wide array of agendum at work...and I suspect that, in some cases, their stated goals are far from their real goals.
Nevertheless, they all seek to make kidvid more enriching and redeeming, at least by their definitions, and at the time, they had enough clout to cause the networks to yield. Consultants were brought in and we, the folks who were writing cartoons, were ordered to include certain "pro-social" morals in our shows. At the time, the dominant "pro-social" moral was as follows: The group is always right...the complainer is always wrong.
This was the message of way too many eighties' cartoon shows. If all your friends want to go get pizza and you want a burger, you should bow to the will of the majority and go get pizza with them. There was even a show for one season on CBS called The Get-Along Gang, which was dedicated unabashedly to this principle. Each week, whichever member of the gang didn't get along with the gang learned the error of his or her ways.
We were forced to insert this "lesson" in D & D, which is why Eric was always saying, "I don't want to do that" and paying for his social recalcitrance. I thought it was forced and repetitive, but I especially objected to the lesson. I don't believe you should always go along with the group. What about thinking for yourself? What about developing your own personality and viewpoint? What about doing things because you decide they're the right thing to do, not because the majority ruled and you got outvoted?
We weren't allowed to teach any of that. We had to teach kids to join gangs. And then to do whatever the rest of the gang wanted to do.
What a stupid thing to teach children.
Now, I won't make the leap to charge that gang activity, of the Crips and Bloods variety, increased on account of these programs. That influential, I don't believe a cartoon show could ever be. I just think that "pro-social" message was bogus and ill-conceived.
And also this about the "Invisbles" by Grant Morrison:
The Invisibles was Morrison's first major creator-owned title for DC Comics and it drew from his Zenith strip as well as 1990s conspiracy culture. His intent was to create a hypersigil to jump-start the culture in a more positive direction.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invisibles
The title initially sold well but sales dipped sharply during the first series, leading to concerns that the series might be canceled outright. To counteract this, Morrison suggested a "wankathon" in the hope of bringing about a magical increase in sales by a mass of fans simultaneously masturbating at a set time.
Morrison became seriously ill while writing the book, something he attributes to working on the title and the manner in which its magical influence affected him, and has stated that his work on the comic made him into a different person from the one who started it. He has also said that much of the story was told to him by aliens when he was abducted during a trip to Katmandu.
A sigil ( /ˈsɪdʒəl/; pl. sigilia or sigils; from Latin sigillum "seal") is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures, each with a specific meaning or intent.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigil_(magic)#Hypersigils
In modern uses, the concept was mostly popularized by Austin Osman Spare, who published a method by which the words of a statement of intent are reduced into an abstract design; the sigil is then charged with the will of the creator. Spare's technique, now known as sigilization, has become a core element of chaos magic. The inherently individualistic nature of chaos magic leads most chaos magicians to prepare and cast (or "charge") sigils in unique ways, as the process of sigilization has never been rigorously defined. The magician is expected to "fill in the blank spots" by himself or herself. Sigils are used for spells as well as for the creation of thoughtforms.
A hypersigil is an extended work of art with magical meaning and willpower, created using adapted processes of sigilization. The term was popularized (if not coined) by Grant Morrison. His comic book series The Invisibles was intended as a hypersigil.
Grant Morrison: The Supercontext to me is what you get born into when you 'die' - remember at the end that these are just my personal metaphors for something that may be quite different . These are the words; I'm straining it down through The Invisibles, that's the shape I'm straining it down through. The Supercontext to me is a fifth-dimensional, informational continuum where things that we don't quite understand go on - higher processes, adult processes. What I felt, when I was undergoing what I call the Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandhu (which I don't think was anything to do with Aliens or Abduction but we'll call it that for ease of understanding) was that by sheer - nothing to do with mysticism, or abstraction - sheer fact of physical life on Earth and how we exist as processes through time rather than as these segments in time which we are interacting with just now basically; in the most hard headed way, running backwards through the processes, where you come in through that doorway, we both disappear out through the door - you go out after me - as you saw in The Invisibles, a huge worm of activity - you go back into your mother, she goes back into her mother. I mean the whole thing is one structure - it's one thing. What I felt, was that I was looking at a larval form and what I was told, was that I was looking at a larval form of an entity that was adult in the fifth dimension and that these things were growing planets like the Earth as patches, like cabbage patches. So you stick it on a planet, the planet feeds it - it eats the planet to power its growth into adulthood at which point it becomes a full scale living fully formed - like the way a fly is fully formed from larvae - entity of the fifth dimension. So you're dealing with someone whose got this as their belief structure behind all of it. This is why I assume that most processes that occur on earth are working properly.http://www.barbelith.com/old/interviews/interview_4.shtml
So, here we have witness on both social engineering from collectivists and of use of occultist practices in the very creation of a comic book. I know most authors *don't* do that, but how far can these things can really have some influence?