Amazon Prime prompted backlash on social media for rolling out a trailer for a new animated series that suggests the angels of God are “heartless” while sympathetically portraying demons, Lucifer and his mythological lover Lilith.
“Heaven and hell like you’ve never seen them before,” Amazon Prime tweeted last week. “Here is the opening scene of #HazbinHotel, premiering Friday on Prime Video.”
— Prime Video (@PrimeVideo) January 16, 2024
The trailer for “Hazbin Hotel,” which depicts heavenly angels as the many-eyed, wheel-like beings in the Book of Ezekiel, describes Lucifer as “a dreamer with fantastical ideas for all of creation.”
“But he was seen as a troublemaker by the elders of Heaven, for they felt his way of thinking was dangerous to the order of their world,” the opening scene continues, which goes on to reference Lilith.
Lilith is a female demonic figure that features in Jewish folklore, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Her name and personality are believed to have emerged from traditions regarding Mesopotamian demons, and some rabbinic literature depicts Lilith as the mother of Adam’s demonic offspring.
Lilith fled the Garden of Eden after refusing to submit to her husband, after which God created Eve, according to the folklore.
Building on this mythology, the opening scene to “Hazbin Hotel” suggests that Lilith and Lucifer fell in love after she fled Eden and that the two were behind the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit because they wished “to share the magic of Free Will with humanity, offering the fruit of knowledge to Adam’s new bride Eve, who gladly accepted.”
For their act, Lucifer was cast into “the Dark Pit,” where he was not allowed to see “the good that came from humanity,” though Lilith “thrived, empowering humankind with her voice and her songs,” the show continued.
The clip closed by suggesting that Heaven was “threatened” by the growing power of Hell, leading its forces to make the annual “heartless decision” to send an exterminating army “to ensure Hell and sinners could never rise against them.”
The show’s protagonist, Charlie Morningstar, the offspring of Lilith and “the princess of Hell,” attempts to rehabilitate demons so they can return to Heaven, according to The New York Times.
The trailer was met with backlash from some users on X, who accused the show of being blasphemous and glorifying Satan.
“Oh look a new Amazon Prime show in which Lucifer and the spawn of demons are the courageous heroes, Adam’s original ‘sin’ is patriarchy, God and his angels are the cruel villains, and humanity’s free will is lionized as the highest good,” Federalist Senior Editor John Daniel Davidson wrote. “This isn’t just moronic trash, it’s vile, evil stuff.”
Suggesting the quote from the clip speaks for itself, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat tweeted the quote, claiming Lucifer was a “dreamer” whose thinking was “dangerous to the order” of Heaven.
The cartoon also drew derision from HotAir.com Associate Editor David Strom, who penned an op-ed last week noting that the trailer makes it “hard to walk away with anything but the impression that God is an oppressor and Satan the liberator.”
“Yes, I know that the creators of Hazbin Hotel are trolling for attention,” Strom wrote. “I also know that civilization will not stand or fall based on a stupid R-rated animated series about Hell.”
“But geez, man. What does it say about our society that one of the largest corporations in the world with millions of subscribers to its video service is heavily promoting a series in which Heaven’s Angels are the bad guys and Satan is the good guy?”
The series, created by animator and YouTube personality Vivienne Medrano, is based on a pilot that became a hit after it debuted on YouTube in 2019. The original pilot, made with the help of freelance animators and Medrano’s Patreon subscribers, went viral and has since garnered nearly 95 million views.
Entertainment company A24 ultimately helped Medrano finance and develop the pilot into a series, which Amazon subsequently purchased. Melissa Wolfe, the head of animation at Amazon MGM Studios, said she watched it and got “kind of a goosebumps feeling when you just know it’s an amazing show,” according to The Times.
Medrano, who identifies as bisexual, said during an interview with Polygon last week: “Our society and our culture has kind of shifted, and a lot more diverse stories are starting to be told, a lot more LGBT stories and things like that. As those things just enter the mix, just naturally, stories start to evolve and change. Different perspectives just automatically open themselves up to different voices.”
“The adult animation space has been a predominantly white male space for a very long time: very raunchy comedy, very, like, shock humor kind of thing. That stuff absolutely has its place, especially if it serves its purpose, but for me, I think the shift comes from more different kinds of perspectives telling stories in the space,” she added.
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