Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Faust, the Devil, & Welcome to Night Vale

Too fragile a portal into another dimension, a dimension which is probably Hell? IDK. I… I’m not a religious studies major, although if I were, I bet I would have graduated by now.

When I listened to this quote from Maureen in the Welcome to Night Vale episode “Things Fall Apart”, I took it as a little bit of a challenge. I am a religious studies major, and I started to look at some of the past episodes, trying to figure out what the latest plotline of Welcome to Night Vale was leading us to. It wasn’t until I listened to the episode “Who’s a Good Boy?” that I managed to finally figure it out.

Mephistopheles as a dogSpoilers for Episodes 85 to 89 of Welcome to Night Vale after the jump.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: 50 Shades of Green

It’s no mystery that I love parodies. Everyone loves parodies, or at least they should. It takes a certain type of humor and a certain skill to take an already created work and change it into something amusing, but still faithful to the original. And these days, what’s riper for the picking on than the young adult paranormal romance genre of novels? They’ve got your Twilights, your weird fallen angel stories, fairytales with a twist (the twist is angst), and I’m even going to put 50 Shades of Grey in there because you have to admit, it’s a little supernatural how fast it blew up in the popular media. Within this genre, the worlds and universes that can be tapped for inspiration are a promising parody writer’s oyster. This week’s web crush is much more than a simple parody, however; it’s a hands-on study of the genre and the publishing industry as a whole.

webcrush picBack at the beginning of February, media commentators Lindsay Ellis and Nella Inserra, more commonly known as the Nostalgia Chick and Nella respectively, started an amazing journey under the catchy title, ‘50 Shades of Green’; a project whose goal was to get a terrible paranormal romance written within about a month and then pitch it to actual publishers. Not on their own, of course. Every aspect of this novel was a collaborative effort between the two ladies and their audience of video viewers and followers from various other social media sites. After listening to the comments and ideas put forth by the enthusiastic viewership the final product was imagined under the name of Awoken, a paranormal romance staring Cthulhu. I know, right? And trust me, with their desire to keep is as close to Twilight-level as possible, it’s going to be as terrible as it sounds.

Keeping with the community input, even the original manuscript of the story (only shared with the publishing companies it was sent to) was co-written by around six different authors—this was most likely due to the time constraints they placed on themselves—but the impressiveness of getting a novel-length manuscript written and edited so that each different author’s part homogenized with the rest cannot be ignored. In a further attempt to continue their ruse, a community-formed pseudonym was created: the “author” of Awoken, Sarah Ellenson. This fictitious person would allow those that were in on the joke the experience, the joy of being an over-defensive author willing to go the extra mile to attack the ‘haters’ of the book, as real authors in this genre are stereotypically wont to do.

But, as I said earlier, this journey isn’t just about the writing process; it’s also about the publishing process. In their newest update, they actually received feedback from various publishers in response to their query letters (the letters authors sent out to companies trying to make their book sound appealing and profitable) and, as opposed to what one may think due to the brutally critical nature of the publishing industry, not all the feedback was negative. In fact, one small publishing company even offered them a chance to publish their book legitimately rather than leaving them to deal with the beast that is self-publishing. It brings up an interesting conundrum of retaining the artistic freedom allowed by self-publishing versus gaining a wider audience with a more well-known publisher and even now I’m not sure with method of publication they’ll end up picking.

No matter what they choose, I’m too invested. I want to see how this ends, and what possible implications this could have on the publishing industry and the genre as a whole. What would a project like this reveal to up and coming writers? What are the lessons that can be gained? I’ll have to watch through to the bitter (bittersweet?) conclusion of this epic to find the answers to those, but it’s something to ponder. Here at BlipTV you can watch the entire process from beginning to present, and I highly encourage you to do so. I’ll even embed the first part below. Here’s hoping that these ‘50 Shades’ see as much green as those shades of Grey did.

Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: The Devil is Totally Evil

The devil is totally evil and you should hate him! Actual religious beliefs affect how religion is portrayed in pop culture, and of course affects how religious figures are portrayed. Now, Satan may not be Jesus. He’s not a paragon of virtue that is upheld by believers (unless they are Satanists, but we aren’t talking about them), but nevertheless he is an extremely important character in Judeo-Christianity.

Because Satan is an evil character, pop culture often pits him against the noble and righteous characters. When we talk about the devil in pop culture, we are often talking about the typical villain archetype. He is evil without reason or remorse. He does everything he can to destroy our virtuous heroes. Not only does he attempt to destroy them in the typical “I’m going to kill you” way, he also attempts to destroy our heroes by tempting them to evil. By doing this the devil gains more souls for hell and turns people away from God.

A lot of people say that Nazis are the perfect villain, because everybody hates them. You will never have a theater full of people getting pissed at how Nazis are treated. Well, pencil in Satan next to Nazis. Our default setting is to hate Satan. There is nothing endearing about him. Furthermore, he has a plus side over the Nazis—he is more interesting. Remember this is a character that according to most Judeo-Christian mythology is someone who was best friends with God before rebelling against him. Again, our default is to assume God is good and awesome. God created us, gave us life, and free will, so why would someone hate him?

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Fanfiction Fridays: Why I’m Glad Ginny Is Dating Draco Malfoy by Sarea Okelani

During my Harry Potter days I read pretty much every Harry Potter fanfic and consequently read almost every pairing. Among all those fics and all those pairings I had some favorites one of those was Draco/Ginny.

It really is one of the most perfect pairings feisty Ginny, snarky Draco, and a slew of proud angry relatives on both sides. It made for some excellent reads.

One of my favorite things was watching Ron try to deal with Draco and Ginny’s relationship. Ron already hated Draco and was fiercely protective of Ginny in the books so watching Ron try to deal with the fact that Ginny was dating his worst enemy was really just wonderful and often hilarious.

The fic Why I’m Glad Ginny is Dating Draco Malfoy by Sarea Okelani is a classic example of this. Watching Ron try to deal with Ginny dating Draco, trying to break them up, and failing over and over was hilarious. I don’t want to give away too much but know that it is both a funny and sweet fic that will definitely brighten your day.

Be sure to check it out and let the author know what you think.

Sexualized Saturdays: Aziraphale and Crowley

If you have read any of my Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus then you know at least a little about one of my favorite books, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read this book–I demand you do so immediately!

Everyone’s favorite angel in Good Omens is Aziraphale. Many people think Aziraphale is gay–even in the book.

“Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide.”

The book further explains, however, that Aziraphale cannot actually be gay.

“… and angels are sexless unless they really want to make an effort.”

Can I add that the “unless they really want to make an effort” part as fueled many a smutty fanfic but Aziraphale, but despite this line many people asset that Aziraphale is gay and is in fact love with the demon Crowley.


Crowley’s sexual orientation is never stated in the book, but since Crowley is a fallen angel we can assume that the same sexlessness applies. Despite this an extremely close relationship is seen between Crowley and Aziraphale despite being on opposites of the cosmic battle. Crowley panics when he thinks Aziraphale dies in a fire in his bookshop and Aziraphale often worries about Crowley’s safety. The two eat together, hang out, and even tried to stop the apocalypse together.

But despite all of this I’m going to hold true to what the book says that neither of this character are gay together. Even if they were they would basically be an asexual but romantic couple considering that neither of them have a sex.

So in conclusion neither Aziraphale or Crowley are gay unless they really want to make an effort.

Thursday Next: BAFM

I’m sure I am starting to sound like a book salesman by all the love I have for these authors, but I’m sure this time you will forgive me. The Thursday Next series is a series made for book lovers everywhere. It asks an important question almost all avid readers have asked themselves: How do the words on paper become images in my head? Through the (so far) six books in the series Jasper Fforde (not a typo, that’s just how Ffreaking awesome he is) creates a world very different from our own. In this world, literature is king and books are what people fight over, love, hate, and even worship. Technology is also more advanced. However this world is not perfect. For instance there is still television with all its mind numbing glory, there is war and struggle. There is a high tax on cheese and the giant corporation Goliath is always pushing its agenda on the general public. All is not lost though, because Thursday Next is here to set everything straight (well as straight as it can be).

Starting in the series as both single and in her mid-thirties, Thursday is already a bit different than most female main characters. She is a member of SO-27, the Literary Detectives. Armed with her badge, gun, and black leather jacket, Thursday is undoubtedly cool. Despite this coolness, she is not invincible. Thursday has problems like any other person. Her father, Colonel Next, is permanently time traveling, her pet dodo bird Pickwick wont listen, and her mother Tuesday just can’t seem to understand why Thursday isn’t married yet. It’s not all fun and games though. When things go wrong in the Outland (the real world) Thursday manages to escape to a place that most bibliophiles would give their good pair of reading glasses to go to: the BookWorld. After brusque training with Miss Havisham, Thursday ends up working for Jurisfiction, the policing agency within the BookWorld. There she battles the Minotaur, bookworms (less cuddly than they sound), grammasites, and other monsters. While still trying to dodge her outlander enemies, and recover from painful memories of the past, Thursday manages to convey an interesting, well-rounded, and strangely real person. If ever there was someone to be termed BAFM (Bad Ass Fucking Mother) she would be it. The first book is The Eyre Affair in this book you will find beloved characters from literature along with some new ones that will surely turn your page. Also check out Fforde’s Nursery Crime series and his latest book Shades of Grey. So what are you waiting for, an invitation? Get reading!