DATELINE: Joining a Cult?
Kookoo Bird Applewhite
Shatner’s compelling series was downright sickening this week on UnXplained.
We were eager to hear what this intriguing series might come up with here: oh, the usual ones like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown. But we were hoping the latest dangerous cult of coronavirus killers, the Trumpists.
Yes, he meets the criteria for a madhouse cult, friends, leading society members into sure self-destruction. Alas, as a Never-Trumper, we have again been disappointed.
The show takes on a few we were unaware of, like the weird cult that women allowed themselves to be branded in the age of MeTooism. Truly fighting the trend, we presume.
It seems, from the historical background, that cults were not always considered bad, but often were a productive part of ancient societies, usually religious orders, looking for heaven. No, not asteroids that might be abandoned spaceships.
One infamous self-help guru was James Arthur Ray, using his name not to be confused with James Earl Ray, the assassin of MLK. They are all cut from the same cloth.
Today’s cults seem to attract people whose lives lack meaning—and they want to be among the elite who have the secret answer. Tribal indoctrination seems to be the key, according to the show—and it is the intangible but powerful thing called charisma that seems to exude from the cult leader.
Whether it is Charles Manson, Marshall Applewhite, or some weird woman from Brazil, these cults take people with strong social needs and give them a belonging. Shatner is amusing in questioning his own audience for their beliefs. The worry is how far the cult will go under direction of their leader.
More than any other episode, this one was the most unpleasant and uncomfortable—showing us satanic killers who target innocent children, but all of them from Jim Jones and others have ordered death to innocence. Politics and hate are the latest motives for cults.