The American Family Association’s One Million Moms is raising hoopla yet again, this time protesting the release of Fox’s upcoming series Lucifer. The show, which is based on the character Neil Gaiman introduced in his critically acclaimed comic Sandman, follows the bored Lord of Hell as he leaves the underworld and discovers a new hobby and pleasure in helping the good cops of LAPD solve crimes and catch criminals.
From Fox’s initial description of the series, this sounds like your average crime procedural with a supernatural twist, but according to the petition put together by One Million Moms, the show’s “mischaracterization” of Satan as a friendly, helpful, and likable person is an affront to the Bible. Moreover, its inclusion of “graphic acts of violence, a nightclub featuring scantily-clad women and a demon” just further exacerbate what they perceive as a further insult to Christianity and Christian morals. According to their petition, “The program previews mischaracterize Satan, departs from true biblical teachings about him, and inaccurately portrays the beliefs of the Christian faith.”
Even with 13,000+ petition signers, though, it is highly unlikely that Fox will cancel the show. In fact, what is more likely to happen is that the petition will become what many other protests against the comics and entertainment industry have become: unfounded accusations, gross misinterpretations, and ultimately failed attempts to regulate and censor content.
Neil Gaiman himself got all nostalgic with his recent comment about One Million Moms’ attempt to thwart the show:
“Ah. It seems like only yesterday (but it was 1991) that the ‘Concerned Mothers of America’ announced that they were boycotting SANDMAN because it contained Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans characters,” he wrote. “It was Wanda that upset them most: the idea of a Trans Woman in a comic book… They told us they were organising a boycott of SANDMAN, which they would only stop if we wrote to the American Family Association and promised to reform.
I wonder if they noticed it didn’t work last time, either…”
This isn’t the first time One Million Moms has attacked a comic book property. The group is also responsible for boycott attempts against Life with Archie #16, which featured the marriage of Archie’s openly gay friend Kevin Keller, and against Marvel’sAstonishing X-Men #52, which featured the marriage of gay character Northstar.
The organization, though, has never successfully thwarted the publication and distribution of any of the comics that they protest. If anything, they demonstrate that even in an era in which the Comics Code and Comics Code Authority are decades behind us, there are still parties out there who would attempt to regulate and restrict constitutionally-protected entertainment at the expense of free expression.
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!