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Crude Demonization and the Propaganda in "Cosmos"

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Did you catch the Sunday night pilot of the new Cosmos series on FOX? If so, you probably watched with interest an odd cartoon that was injected into it. The program featured some revisionist history in order to produce a thinly-veiled hit piece on Christians. You can watch it here. Take special note at 1:24. Right smack dab in the center of focus is the Cross of Christ, just below a set of demonically-lit eyes of a church figure. This is propaganda of the crudest sort, reminiscent of how Stalin’s Soviet Union characterized non-communists, or how the Hutus of Rwanda characterized the Tutsis, or, most famously, how the Third Reich characterized Jews.

I imagine we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future, so let’s try to figure out one formula some outlets might use to implement such demonization.

1.) Take a fascinating topic that captures the imagination of viewers across all age groups. In this case, space exploration. Get the US President’s seal of approval

2.) Invent the story of an obscure martyr, in this case, a church figure who promoted a theological heresy hundreds of years ago and was executed for doing so — Giordano Bruno.

1. 3.) Win the sympathy of the viewer through twisting facts. In this case, claim — in error — that the Church as a whole persecuted Bruno for his views on science and his imagination — when the reality was that the personalities running the church at the time went after him for his theological views. You can read more about this here and here.

4.) Then inject a caricature that demonizes anyone associated with the symbol f the cross. In this case, it’s a cartoon that places the cross right in the center of focus, underneath a pair of demonic eyes so that the viewer will join the producers in demonizing the cross and those who wear it.

Whether or not you agree that this is a formula for demonizing people, it all leads to the same place: the persecution of targeted groups of people. Throughout history demonization through caricature has always gone hand-in-hand with oppression: separating people through smear-by-association. So whenever we see such things produced by a major network or outlet, we need to ask ourselves a question: Is the caricature intended to single out a group of people with the direct effect of inspiring blanket fear and hatred of them? Or is it a more generic “bad guy” that would would find in the context of a well-written drama or storyline? This hit piece from Cosmos is doubtless of the first category.

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