OpinionTV

‘American Horror Story: Cult’ and the First Amendment

Monica Petrucci ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

American Horror Story has never been shy about pushing barriers with their plots, characters and dialogues; but AHS: Cult has redefined its own standard for creating unsettling characters and realistic horror.

When I first heard rumors that this new season would be reminiscent of the 2016 election, I was ecstatic. I hadn’t watched the previous season out of boredom and lack of interest in where the show was going, and I knew I wasn’t the only one. Most of my fellow AHS fans were getting bored of the plot lines and were nostalgic for the Asylum and Murder House glory days of the show. Finally, I thought, they were creating a new level of horror, one that was real enough to grab their ex-fans by the collar.

I didn’t know what to expect; was Ryan Murphy going to create an all-too-familiar caricature of Trump without directly naming or picturing him? Was it going to be set in an alternate reality with an unrecognizable administration and exaggerated representations of American voters? My jaw practically dropped to the floor when I saw that one of the first scenes of the show is direct footage of Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaign speeches.

The writers of the show knew this would evoke sincere shock from their fans; they knew it would create a new level of satisfaction and horror. And they were successful in doing so: they drew in a significantly greater amount of viewers than the finale of Roanoke, the show’s previous season. How could they do this: portray the President of the United States as the inspirer of a malicious and disgusting cult, growing only with his own growth of power?

Because the First Amendment to the Constitution says so.

Murphy isn’t scared to practice his American right to say whatever he wants about the government in Cult. Given that the current administration is infamous for attempting to silence any form of media that feeds the president’s negative image, AHS writers took this as a perfect opportunity to protest.

We shouldn’t avoid acknowledging that the overall ratings of this season have been doing more poorly than last season’s. A lot of devoted fans have decided not to tune in this season. We also shouldn’t fail to acknowledge that a lot of these viewers have found this season too uncomfortable to watch; Murphy is obviously isolating a good chunk of his former fans by releasing this politically-biased season. Portraying a far-right leader of a cult emulating the president while simultaneously committing malicious acts of violence is probably too much for conservatives to ignore.
By exercising their First Amendment right, the AHS writers risked the reputation and success of their show — one of the most intense forms of protest. It’s important that they were able to remind us all that as Americans, it is our constitutional right to critique our own government, even in as malicious a way as comparing a president’s ideologies to a serial killer’s.  

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