Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Shadowhunters, Faith, and Prejudice

The Mortal Instruments ShadowhuntersNothing makes me angrier than when a fantasy story uses religious elements but ignores everything about the faith those elements come from. There is a way that such a thing can be done well, but often fantasy writers seem to cherry pick religious elements and then don’t discuss the religious implications that come with those elements. We see this all the time in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where vampires can be repelled with crosses, but nothing about why that works is ever discussed. Or in shows like Supernatural, where various gods exist all at once, but for reasons that make little sense, the Abrahamic deity and other beings like angels are more powerful than the pagan gods. I am seeing this same thing again in the TV show Shadowhunters. I don’t remember the books very well, but I vaguely remember that they did not do any better with the religious elements either. For example, despite being half angel, Jace claims he doesn’t believe in angels in the books.The TV show doesn’t have this issue when it comes to religious elements, but it does have other problems that need to be addressed. And not addressing the religious baggage that these elements bring to the table actually contradicts the message of the overall story.

Continue reading