“May the road rise to meet you, may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rains fall softly upon your fields” is a beautiful Irish blessing often heard at special occasions like weddings and graduations. There is also a typically cynical Irish “dig” sometimes attached to this which goes, “and may you be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”
Lucifer is no laughing matter, though movies, television and pop music are saturated with various riffs on the Prince of Darkness. Not wanting to be left out in the cold — or heat — Fox television is launching a series with the Devil himself as the lead character in a weird kind of cop procedural show called — what else? — “Lucifer.” Talk about your ultimate “bad-good guy.”
The sound you will soon be hearing is the thunderous roar of outraged groups and petition signers nailing a list of grievances on the Fox Network doors demanding they remove the series from its fall line-up. This is exactly the kind of marketing Fox executives are (pardon the non sequitur) praying for. They will have people talking about their network and their show, free of charge, and people will tune in to the show to see how bad it is while another large segment will tune in to see how good it is — and a third, large cross-section of the viewing audience will tune in to see what all the noise from both sides of this issue’s aisle is all about. For Fox and its advertisers it will be a perfect storm. And for you know who, it will be a win/win, as he never shies away from making news.
If we, as Catholics, believe Heaven is real, then we must also stipulate the existence of Hell and the prince who rules that domain. Why? Because both the place and its sovereign were very explicitly referenced by Christ Himself in Scripture. When it comes to the Devil, all PR is “good” PR. He is equally happy being discounted or toyed with, whether being used as a literary prop or a “harmless” entity in a child’s game. Like steam (or smoke) he likes to get into the nooks and crannies of things where, throughout the ages of man, he has found a home. So we need to tread lightly when giving the devil any sway in either our thoughts or imaginations.
Besides the obvious fact the Devil can never be “good” in any moral way, shape or form, the pedigree of the Fox series “Lucifer” is troubling on another level. It was spawned from a DC comic aimed right at the cerebral cortex of impressionable adolescents. From everything I have read so far about “Lucifer” the series, we are going to meet a sympathetic Prince of Darkness — a being apparently so bored with life in Hell and upset over how evil is discriminated against on earth — as if! — that he decides to venture into the earthly realm. According to other Fox promotional pieces, the series follows the exploits of Lucifer after he opens a trendy nightclub which will be the hub from which he operates as a kind of private eye from hell, assisting the police in punishing criminals.
The upside down logic and philosophical and theological back flips required in order to suspend one’s disbelief and accept as a premise, that the being who loves nothing more than mayhem and evil, is somehow dedicated to stopping the purveyors of it, makes my head hurt.
So on a strictly literary level, this is a character wrought with so many contradictions as to be rendered senseless, regardless of how good it looked on paper and in pitch meetings where people talk in Hollywood shorthand. It certainly qualifies as a high concept idea and I can almost picture the 40-something ponytailed Fox executive who wouldn’t know a Beatitude from a Lamborghini, beaming with this “new” twist on an “old” character and thinking that this transformation of the ultimate personification of evil into a crusading crime fighter will intrigue the 18-35 year old demographic — the gold standard for television advertisers.
No one at Fox has asked me, but if they did, I would suggest a series about otherworldly beings that also have a history of interacting with humanity and are biblically based … angels. The real angels of scripture are not the warm and fuzzy images we have been force-fed via middle-of-the-road fantasy television shows of the past or what we see on Hallmark cards. Real angels bring profound news to humans, like Gabriel’s interaction with Mary, and they save people from total destruction, like Lot and his family. And the baddest angel of them all, Michael, actually does battle with the “protagonist” in the upcoming Fox series. That’s a series I’d like to see … but I won’t hold my breath.
So instead I will launch this campaign of silence toward “Lucifer.” If we just go about our lives letting this series go on without us, it may be more effective than a shrill protest rally. The devil may be in the details, but a concerted silence from audiences may translate into lower ratings and lower ratings equals less interest from advertisers. Maybe before long, Fox executives in ponytails might just say, “Ah, to hell with it.”