Social Justice Component in American Horror Story

Season 3 - Coven

Witches, magic, aging, racism, sexism, ageism, adultism, sorority, sisterhood, discrimination against people with disabilities, motherhood, power and privilege...

The third season of American Horror Story was interesting. Definitely the word "interesting" is a good choice to use here, since it can refer to both positive and negative connotations. 

So far, I haven't enjoyed TV series which are fantasy. Demons, angels, vampires, super powers, magic, zombies, superheroes, and villains were a big NO for me to be exposed to until American Horror Story's Coven. 

The fantasy ingredient of this season was highly related with the real world, and what I mean with "real world" is social justice component. Where there is power, there is misuse of power. Ultimately, there is exploitation, underprivileged, and the weak when there is the strong, or when there is the perception of the existence of the strong. Or, people who are put in those positions by the privileged one, by the one who entitles herself with power.

The competition among supremes—who possess a class of seven powers— reminded me of the conflict among upper class to achieve the ultimate power. Their ambitions to get more and more, and always being in search for better and the best. 

Seeking the eternal life, and the beauty of the youth cover one of our biggest and the most mundane fear: the fear of dead and dying. Women realize their own mortality when they become a mother, and again when they become a grandmother. Especially in today's world, while the focus was heavily on anti-aging discourse, realizing your first wrinkle when you look at the mirror is considered as the horrible sign of aging. Stop. You are maturing, growing, getting wiser, and older; and it is an amazing thing. Embrace every age of yours. You are aging everyday and you are lucky to experience this process on first hand. 

Another curiosity of mine was witnessing the generational differences between the old and young witches. The young was questioning the abilities of the old ones as if they are getting weaker and being less capable of doing magic and use their powers. This treat was manifesting itself by the young witches' lack of respect and disobedience to authority. In literature it is called ageism. Similarly, the old was in doubt that as if the young cannot handle issues without the help of the old, and as if their decision makings are defected and cannot be trusted. In literature it is called adultism. Okay, what needs to be done? How can we prevent this unfair sense of entitlement among generations and different age groups while both age groups were belittling each other's capacities and capabilities? 

John Bell is providing an answer for these questions in his article Understanding Adultism: A Key to Developing Positive Youth-Adult Relationships: 

A sound policy for behavior in our work together needs to include mutual expectations that apply to all people, regardless of age:
to treat each other with nothing less than complete respect;
to think independently and not just react;
to act to improve the situation;
to be trustworthy, honest, and reliable in relations with each other; to think about the well-being of the whole group;
to care about each other;
to struggle against everything which keeps us divided among ourselves.

People who are different than us are exposed to different treatments for ages regardless of which era we are in, this is the unfortunate internalized and externalized treatment that we all have it to a certain degree. We, as people who are different than them, are also exposed to differential treatments. Bullies have been bullied. Abusers have been abused. People who have been put down put others down. For what? 

Coven made me realized that you have no reason to hate someone, but you can find many if you look for it. Similarly, you have every reason to love someone, but you can find many reasons to hate if you ask for it. You can like or dislike, approve or disapprove, set boundaries if you think you are getting hurt by their actions; but you cannot possibly hate. 

There were so much hate in this season. The celebrity hated the mundane population. The ordinary hated the fame of the celebrity. The mentally healthy ones hated the girl on an autism spectrum. The white hate the black and the black hate the white. The old hate the young and the young hate the old. The mother hate the daughter and the daughter hate the mother. Coworkers—members of the council—hated each other. Men hate women and the women hate men. But among all, it hurt me deeply to see women hate women more than anything. While there is so much emphasis on unity and solidarity of women in Coven, my gender keeps digging each other's pit for ages. Literally, for how many times did they kill each other or put each other in graves? And finally, the dead hate the living, the living hate the dead.. 

It was an amazing experience to mature with Coven by exposing these hate spectrums and having the feeling of getting closer to the reality of today's world with a fantasy show. As a big fan of romanticism in movies and TV series, I would've never expected to love a TV series which has hate component more than love.  

Thank you Coven. 

Elvan Kama
Elvan Kama

I'm a Turkish therapist -to be- who lives in Philadelphia, tries to get her master's degree from Couples and Family Therapy, continues her existence as a full time student and a therapy intern, finds psychology and sociology fascinating! 

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