A long while back I talked about Welcome to Night Vale’s Strex Corp and the Smiling God, and how the Smiling God could potentially be a critique of Christianity, Prosperity Gospel doctrine, and religious colonialism. But now I am venturing into very different territory. Is Night Vale, with all its darker rituals, beliefs, and morality, representative of left-handed paths?
When the Strex Corp storyline started in Welcome to Night Vale, I was struck by what I saw as criticism of Christianity. The Smiling God was seemingly all about light and love, but was actually something powerful that could potentially destroy everyone. On top of this, Strex Corp was using the beliefs of the Smiling God to take over and practically enslave everyone, while claiming that the people of Night Vale would be happy if they just listened to them and fell in line with their beliefs. Night Vale, on the other hand, often seemed to follow a religious path that was darker and would be viewed as taboo in our culture. While Desert Bluffs and Strex Corp emphasized light, Night Vale emphasizes darkness. And I started to wonder if Night Vale could represent left-handed paths.
(Brief disclaimer: I was raised Christian, so my knowledge of left-handed paths largely comes from the research I have done on the topic. If I have said anything that is incorrect, especially if you follow a left-handed path, please let me know. I am always excited to learn new things.)
Spoilers up to Episode 49 of Welcome to Night Vale.
Welcome to Night Vale is a show that gives us a great example of what intersectional feminism actually looks like in popular media and storytelling. It has excellent female characters, most of whom are women of color; it has characters with disabilities, two queer main characters, and often points out problematic issues surrounding race, sexuality, gender, and disabilities. I am rarely, if ever, disappointed in Welcome to Night Vale, and now I have yet another reason as to why I love this show so much. Welcome to Night Vale is one of the few shows in recent memory to address how sinister the effects of religious colonialism can be on people. Religious colonialism is when the invading culture forces its own religious beliefs onto the native peoples it is conquering and simultaneously demonizes and outlaws the native religious beliefs.
Spoilers for the Strex Corp storyline below the cut.
Welcome to Night Vale is a fandom that I absolutely adore! In recent episodes of WTNV, starting with “Yellow Helicopters” through the most recent “Renovations”, the nefarious company StrexCorp from Desert Bluffs has taken over the town of Night Vale. What really intrigues me about StrexCorp is the presence of a Smiling God, as the representatives at StrexCorp call it.
StrexCorp Synernists Incorporated.
Look around you: Strex.
Look inside you: Strex.
Go to sleep: Strex.
Believe in a Smiling God: StrexCorp.
It is EVERYTHING.
Here is what I am wondering: is the smiling god real, and why is any sort of religious ideology being associated with an evil corporation like StrexCorp?