Little Demon. Creators: Darcy Fowler, Seth Kirschner, and Kieran Valla. Voices: Danny DeVito, Lucy DeVito, and Aubrey Plaza. FX Network, 2022 to present.
Adult cartoons are “adult” for a reason. Unlike the famous cartoons by Warner Brothers and MGM and arguably Disney, “adult” cartoons are “for adults only.” But the genre exists to tempt minors with adult themes, by the very nature of the medium. Which brings us to the latest Disney project, Little Demon, a cartoon show purportedly for adults.
Little Demon raves…
First, some background. The title character (Lucy DeVito) is a thirteen-year-old girl in middle school in a rough neighborhood in a rough city. As such she faces some typical challenges, including bullying and the onset of puberty, with all that comes with it. Her mother (Aubrey Plaza) is trying to raise her alone, and protect her from the unsavory influence of her father (Danny DeVito). That anyone would make such a dysfunctional scenario the subject of comic relief is a sad enough commentary on society. Add this to it, though: her father is Satan. In a twist on Rosemary’s Baby (1968), we’re seeing the result of a literal satanic dalliance, thirteen years later.
So when the bullies attack, Chrissy (that’s the girl’s name) literally tears them apart, telekinetically. Right away we have a twist on another horror movie of the last century, Brian de Palma’s Carrie (1976).And while her mother urges restraint, now her father is trying to “reconnect.” And encouraging her to use her powers, full force.
Little Demon apparently is drawing viewers in, and playing to rave “average viewer” and “average user” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. That site has these composite ratings at time of writing:
|Who’s rating it?||Percent raving|
By critical convention, a rave is positive and a rant is negative. Note that “all critics” are definitely raving about it – though their top critics are not raving quite so much.
… and rants
Little Demon first came to the attention of CNAV when Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries “ranted” about it on her radio program. Her particular “rant” concerned its subject matter. Nor would she have wanted to describe it further. Other critics have described the tearing-apart scene, and also some frankly lascivious displays.
Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.-4th) ranted about the show’s trailer on Facebook.
I couldn’t get to the remote fast enough to shield my 11-year-old from the preview, and I wonder how many other children were exposed to it—and how many millions more will tune in to the new series, owned and marketed by DISNEY.
Again: when you make an animated cartoon, minors will “check it out,” no matter how diligent you try to be. (And remember: the liberal and libertarian left no longer recognize the concept minor.)
Johnson quotes extensively from this review by Ross McIndoe in Slant. Remarkably, McIndoe seems to regard this show as mediocre – but only because he wants to see more abuse of telekinesis. This introductory excerpt says it all:
Most of the show’s best moments come when it leans into its hellish premise and plumbs the depths of its own depravity.
Ben Travers at IndyWire finds the show boring, and predicts early cancellation because it is too conventional. Likewise, Brian Tallerico at Roger Ebert almost despairs of the show reaching its “full potential” after three cliché-ridden episodes. Manuel Betancourt at AV Club can’t seem to make up his mind about the show.
They all missed it
But every one of those critics, except Representative Johnson, missed the point. Johnson, of course, picked up on a direct quote by voice actress Aubrey Plaza in this interview at ComicCon:
I love that we are normalizing paganism. Laura [the mother] is a pagan. She’s a witch. She’s jacked.
Cue another parallel: The Witches of Eastwick (1987).
In a series of tweets, Johnson continues his rant against Little Demon, a rant everyone should read.
Yesterday, I shared a FB post expressing my concern and a notice to parents about the disturbing new animated sitcom “Little Demon,” created and marketed by Disney/FX. An ad with its dark trailer was played during Disney/ABC’s Labor Day Eve broadcast of the LSU-Florida State game, which the latest ratings say dominated Sunday night TV with 5.87 million total viewers.
As of this morning, my FB post just surpassed that number and reached more than 6.13 million people.
Free speech is an important principle, and in this country everyone can obviously make their own decisions about what media they and their families consume. But a corollary is that Christians have the freedom to fulfill our obligation to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), even—and sometimes most importantly—when it may not be popular.
Little Demon and Big Demon
Apologists for the show will, of course, insist that they only sought a twist on how a child becomes a “little demon” at puberty. Lay aside for a moment all the horror shows (and one horror comedy) from which they borrowed so shamelessly. When evil becomes banal, it becomes less threatening.
This also shows that the spirit world abhors a vacuum. Without God in one’s life, the Devil moves in.
Add this to it: the villains Chrissy encounters along the way, necessarily stand in for anyone who objects to sin. And they also deserve punishment – but not the kind of punishment we see in this show.
Stephen King’s brand of horror is bad enough. He takes misfit characters, examples of which everyone surely knows, and imbues them with great power. Sometimes these characters do good; more often they do bad. And they almost always die tragically.
But at least Stephen King takes his subject matter seriously. Fowler, Kirschner and Valla do not. Instead they play with spiritual fire.
So does Disney. CEO Bob Chapek, if he is at all sincere, has let Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm distract him from a greater hazard than the ruination of Star Wars ever could have been. The rot has definitely set in. Mike Johnson says to stay away from a show named Little Demon. It’s likely time to stay away from Disney altogether.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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