The Devil Under Every Bed: Has Hollywood Perpetuated a Demon Myth?

I’m just going to come out and say it: Many of the well-worn tropes that crop up time and again within the paranormal community really get on my nerves.

Probably more so than any other is the ubiquitous demon. Whenever someone rolls that oldie-but-goodie out to explain the unexplainable, my eyes roll of their own accord. While I admit that, as an avowed atheist, I’m probably less likely than your average believer to accept the possibility of a demon, it just seems to be too convenient an answer. Worse, there are some who seem to rely on demonic entities as their go-to answer (the infamous Warrens come to mind), risking the possibility of missing a less-obvious truth altogether.

Now, I’m not saying it’s unequivocal fact that demons don’t exist; I’m skeptical, but not close-minded. I’ve said many times (recently in my series, The Ouija Controversy) that I don’t pretend to be absolutely sure of anything in this field. However, I need to see it to believe it, and in the case of more extreme claims – like the existence of demons – producing concrete proof should be paramount. We can’t just choose the obvious answer, the most provocative answer, or the one that seems to support our most cherished spiritual beliefs.

Perhaps the most galling thing about the demon explanation for the more frightening paranormal occurrences (not to mention the rush to believe that explanation) is that Hollywood is likely to blame, at least in part. Sure, a number of religions have been talking about the things for centuries, but sometimes it seems we’ve gone the easy route these days, perpetuating a lot of Hollywood ideas without giving it much thought.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good (or even cheesy) horror flick. I just think it’s really unlikely that they depict the reality of demonic forces, if indeed such a thing even exists. If the movies don’t get the realities of human relationships right, what are the chances they’re going to do any better with subjects whose parameters no one can even agree on?

The worst part for me is that this focus on the demonic in para-media – especially the myriad TV shows – has a self-serving component, not only for lofty, self-described demonologists, but also for purported victims. I mean, when you think about it, how flattering is that, to be targeted out of several billion people for the attention of a demon? You must be especially pious or interesting to deserve such a distinction!

Of course, I’m being cheeky here, but what I’m getting at is this: In this day of paranormal “reality” shows, blockbuster horror films, and the resultant all-time high visibility of the paranormal field, we should be constantly questioning the source of our beliefs, as well as our motivations (and those of others) in believing as we do.

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