This Looks Terrible! Deception of a Generation (1985)
If you are a parent, or a hysteric, or someone who enjoys working themselves into a frothing frenzy over things that don’t actually exist, chances are good that you’ve heard of something called the “MoMo Challenge.”
The idea is that some sinister adult has snuck video into popular Youtube clips for kiddie favorites like Peppa Pig of a nightmarish-looking woman known as “MoMo” encouraging children to either commit suicide or kill someone. Alternately, “MoMo” contacts the younglings online via Facebook or whatever and works her sinister magic on the minds of suggestible children.
This is different from the “MoMa Challenge”, where an undead Spalding Gray shows up in reruns of Sesame Street and dares children to enjoy all the cultural offerings the Museum of Modern Art has to offer.
Like many moral panics, this sounds utterly terrifying but also is almost complete bullshit. It’s a toxic hoax designed to spread fear and terrify parents already on high alert against any and all dangers to their children, particularly web-based. Parents are prepared to believe the worst about the internet, deservedly so, and the “MoMo Challenge” feeds into widespread paranoia that the internet is full of dark, awful traps for innocent children (oh won’t someone think about the children?) the adult world knows nothing about.
There’s nothing new about these panics. They change with the times but the fundamentals are the same: something dark and sinister and probably Satanic is coming after our children, and it is incumbent upon us, the grown ups, to stop it.
While researching Scooby-Doo! And the Curse of the 13th Ghosts, a perversely specific direct-to-video follow-up to the 1985 series The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo for an article for Fatherly I made a remarkable, if ultimately unsurprising discovery.
The agreeably dopy Scooby Doo cartoon had been singled out by a Christian expose entitled Deception of a Generation as a notable “example of occult influences on children's entertainment.”
The 1985 video consists of a two-part, 90 minute long conversation between Dr. Gary Greenwald, a gentleman who resembles a cross between magician Doug Henning and porn star John Holmes, who hosts a show called The Eagle’s Nest, and a pompadoured Texas gentleman named Phil Phillips, who has been gallivanting about the toy stores and comic book shops of the day, and binge-watching children’s television for a very specific purpose.
Phillips is out to expose a conspiracy by the children’s entertainment industry to brainwash good Christian children into embracing the occult, witchcraft, non-Christian faiths and ultimately Satanism.
Greenwald previously released cassettes, books and videos with telltale titles like The Punk Called Rock, Marijuana, the Heavenly Deception and Rock’s Primal Scream so he was not only well-versed in moral panics; he helped spread those fears as well. He is an easy mark for this line of scaremongering, even when it involves passing off The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo as the devil’s handiwork.
Sure enough, Greenwald introduces Deception of A Generation as the latest in a string of lid-blowers (or “LBs”) that previously covered demonic scourges as rock and roll music, Dungeons and Dragons, marijuana and the New Age movement.
Greenwald tees off by asking us, “If I say something like ‘wicked witches’ and ‘demon clouds’ and ‘spellbooks’ and even ‘the zone of eternal evil” what comes to mind? What do you think of? Do you think of a coven of witches or a seance?”
Clearly, phrases that evil can only be uttered by Satanic priests. You need to be a practitioner of the Dark Arts to know terminology as advanced as ‘wicked witches’ or ‘spellbook’.
What if I were to tell you that these evil phrases appear in the Satanic bible, of course, but also on the television program The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo, which are pretty much the same thing?
Of course it could be argued that true, genuine evil does not involve Scrappy Doo or wacky hijinks and limited animation but that is not the argument being made here. Instead, Phillips insists the Satanic, child-corrupting imagery of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo reflects “a vast movement towards the occult within the cartoon and toy industry.” Pulling out statistics as scary-sounding as they are meaningless, Phillips insists “80 percents of all cartoons deal directly with the occult and 40 percent of the toys on the market have a cultic influence.”
The king of these innocence-defilers is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra, which these gents seems to think should be called Beezlebub’s Spell and Incantation Evil Hour. How sinister is He-Man? According to an obviously true anecdote shared by Phillips, when an innocent Christian child heard an evangelist say that Jesus is the “Master of the Universe” on the radio he jumped up and said, “Mommy, God isn’t Master of the Universe, He-Man is.”
In an even truer, even less made-up story, Phillips tells us that his father delivered his “toys are Satan’s tool for corrupting our children” spiel on his son’s behalf at a church and a good little Christian boy in the parking lot later on insisted, “He-Man has more power than Jesus! He-Man has more power than Jesus!”
It’s not just toys and cartoons that are turning our children into li’l devil lovers. Turning his attention to Star Wars, Phillips warns, “Star Wars told us that the Force would be with us. And of course “The Force” is a word used by witches down through the century to describe the power they receive from Satan.”
He goes on to explain that Yoda is a “three fingered, three toed beast, so he has the two fingers and the thumb, which from my information means, ‘Satan is Lord.’”
Okay, so Star Wars is a tool of the Prince of Darkness and Yoda worships the devil. But E.T is cool, right? There’s no way that lovable alien could be used as a vessel for evil, right?
Alas, “E.T was nothing but a “camouflage occult movie involving levitation, psychic healing, mind control, mental telepathy.”
Straining ever so slightly to make an astonishingly stupid point, Phillips argues that “What they tried to do with (E.T) was to make people accept that there’s more Christs than just one… E.T is a “falsification of Christ coming to Earth” designed to trick us into thinking Jesus was just the original E.T. Nothing more, nothing less.
What about the Smurfs? Clearly they can’t be Satanic. Actually, yes. Phillips points out that their skin is blue and their lips are black, just like the recent dead. But the problems go beyond that: every member of the community is male. “What you’re telling me is that even Smurfs have a homosexual connotation in that most of them are male?” Greenwalds inquires. Also, Papa Smurf is a demonic figure spouting spells explicitly seeking the assistance of “Beezlebub.” And don’t even get him started on Gargamel!
Phillips and Greenwald even manage to discern demonic, unGodly, Jesus-hating elements in The Care Bears Movie. The Care Bear Stare, we learn, is a way of establishing Care Bearism as a religion in direct competition with Christianity. In their imagination, the Care Bears are only too prepared to replace Christianity. They didn’t realize that it was actually My Little Pony that would become a makeshift pop culture religion intent on destroying Christianity,
The thing that’s crazy about Deception of a Generation is that it gets so many things about children’s entertainment right.
Kiddie shows of the 1980s really were a nightmare of cynical exploitation and naked greed. As Phillips and Greenwald point out, many Saturday morning hits existed solely to sell toys, and appallingly unhealthy, sugar-laden cereals. Moreover, cartoons were incredibly violent.
At his most surprisingly perceptive, Phillips points out that the co-creator of Barbie has stated that he would not give Barbies to his granddaughter because he worried about the dolls’ impossible dimensions encouraging eating disorders in girls.
The bible-thumpers come THIS close to understanding the actual danger of toys and cartoons and comic books. The problem with these toys and cartoons and comic books is that they’re mercenary, unbelievably violent, cynical and can inspire eating disorders in young children by promoting unrealistic beauty standards.
There are lots of good, valid reasons to see this kiddie fare as toxic and profoundly damaging. Yet Deception of a Generation can’t help but push insane conspiracy theories involving the Satanic nature of Yoda and E.T teaching children to disbelieve the gospel.
I watched Deception of a Generation twice to write this piece. I chose to spend three hours watching two men sit in a chair in the mid-1980s and promote nonsense and was only intermittently bored because there is something inherently fascinating about elaborate conspiracy theories being promoted by people with no self-consciousness and no self-awareness.
Call me crazy, but I seemingly have more faith in God than either of these two professional Christians too. If God is indeed the greatest power in the universe, more powerful, in some ways, than even He-Man, then it will take a whole lot more than some vaguely occult-sounding gobbledygook in kid’s shows to turn children against him.
Greenwald and Phillips have way too much faith in Satan and his power to win over the the hearts and minds of precious, precious children through incoherent messaging in disposable cartoons designed to be forgotten while they’re still being watched.
Children aren’t as gullible and easily led as Deception of Generation seem to think they are. In fact, I suspect that even children as young as five or six would be able to see through this insane propaganda.
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