Fresh off his triumphant performance as himself in The Passion of Christ (there was even a Best Supporting Actor buzz for the role), the Devil, a long-time Hollywood insider, was finally getting his due. Caught in a rare unguarded moment after a hard night's partying with Mick Jagger, Prince William and George Bush, the Devil proved to be a genial, accessible interview. Although much of what he says is quite accurate, he is, however, the Prince of Liars. Read at your own risk.
So what do you prefer to be called? Satan? Lucifer? Beelzebub? How about Bub?
THE DEVIL: Chief is good.
OK, Chief. What do you have to say to those who don't believe in you?
DEVIL: Nothing. No hard feelings. I prefer anonymity. I've learned to postpone gratification, as it were. I'm a "behind the scenes" type, anyway. The primal conspiracy, if you prefer. A silent partner. If they don’t believe in me, I can ~ ahem~ work “miracles”. But surely you have seen some of my wonderful work over in the Middle Eastern war arena? Surely my “dirty bombs” are a work of pure genius!
I will get to the latter part of your statement another time, but for now, speaking of scenes, when did you first get interested in film?
DEVIL: I was there from the very beginning. I let a few classics slip through in the beginning so as not to arouse suspicion, but it turned out to be a good move.
DEVIL: Oh, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, So Moses was Born, Wuthering Heights, Citizen Kane, all that. I teased them with drama. Although I can take no credit for the development of the actual art form, I did see it as an opportunity for great evil and human suffering, which, of course is one of my particular delights.
What do you mean?
What type of movie seems to work the best for you? Horror? Pornography? Action?
DEVIL: Romance. I must admit they all serve a great purpose towards my goal. Pornography is one of my greatest inventions! But for now, Romance holds the crown.
DEVIL: No question. You see, (takes sip of water) Man, what I could get for a glass of this where I come from! Movies about evil do not help my cause. They are much too transparent. No one in their right mind wants to confront pure evil. I personally supervise the making of every romance, or chick flick, as they are sometimes called.
Um, what is the connection? I don’t get it.
DEVIL: Hopefully you won't! What I try to accomplish in a romance movie such as Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail or The Mirror Has Two Faces, and the list goes on and on, is a presentation of love, at least the human expression of it, which is both irresistible and unattainable at the same time. The old carrot and the donkey idea. Since belief is already suspended, my job is just that much easier. I even have lovers traveling through time to make up for their past shoddy behavior. There's no limit to a guilty man's ingenuity, or my imagination. It's a winning combination. It is fortunate that this fluff also adapts well to the mainstream television. Those who do not go to movies are indoctrinated at home watching “harmless” sitcoms!
Are there any recent movie scenes you are particularly proud of?
DEVIL: I've ruined many relationships with the last scene of The Mirror Has Two Faces where the guy is running desperately through the streets of the city, calling out, trying to save their love, in the rain, I might add. Tears of heaven! Every woman who sees it thinks, "I wish a man loved me that way and I'm pretty sure it's not this jerk sitting next to me!" And, just for good measure, I always make religious characters look a little silly or nutty. You see?
DEVIL: What could be better than an irresistible situation ~ which seems unquestionably good ~ yet is impossible to ever successfully attain? Dissatisfaction is the key. If I can keep every woman out there feeling like she's not being loved the way she should be and every man thinking he could never love a woman the way he ought to, then you have the makings of some classic human despair. My viewers embrace disillusionment, and its elusive remedy, like a long lost lover. It's beautiful. It just creates a big, gooey marsh of cantankerous confusion. You know you fall in love but you have to crawl out. Then I get to sit back and watch all the pitiful imbeciles trudge through it. You should see the average couple leaving a movie like this ~ both feeling a sense of complete inadequacy. It's quite amusing, actually.
So you create the ideal situation which will never happen?
DEVIL: Bingo! Movie-goers are a ripe group anyway. You just have to pick them. We all know that life is, for the most part, distasteful, right?
DEVIL: The very fact that they are exiting their lives for a couple of hours is a sure sign that they want something else. I give it to them all wrapped up in wine, candlelight, flesh, ribbons and bows. But the trick is to make them think that the emptiness they feel inside can be filled by another human, which, of course, it can't.
But no one I know associates love with the devil.
DEVIL: Exactly! Of course I have nothing to do with true love but I have successfully made a connection between beauty and goodness. People, especially Americans, associate beauty with goodness. And there is really no connection. Take sex for instance. Everyone thinks ~ by the way, do you know the etymology of the word "horny?" ~ what people want is intimacy, a sense of being personally connected. The more impersonal society becomes, the more tempting establishing a quick sexual connection appears. It's a short cut. But there's only one problem.
DEVIL: The intimacy is false and neither party can go back over the bridge once it has been crossed. Don't get me wrong. The connection is real in the truest sense but I love to see the emotional confusion resulting from a too-soon consummated relationship. Feelings are so beautiful and fleeting! Shouldn't it be obvious by now? People think, "Hey! It's natural! Must be good then, huh?" But I'm never obvious. That's a four letter word where I come from. Obviousness is just exactly that. What is the one thing about God which makes no sense whatsoever?
That Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft haven’t been hit by lightning?
DEVIL: LOVE! And what does love have to do with sex? NOTHING! But what does everyone teach their kids? "Daddy? What were you and mommy doing in the bedroom?" "Well, son, when you love someone..." It has nothing to do with love. But I digress. What is it about God that makes no sense?
Go on. I guess you're going to tell me.
DEVIL: The fact that He loves ridiculous creatures such as yourself. It's been a long goal of mine to sidetrack humans in their pitiful quest for love. Look at history. I've done my best to make love nothing but an irresistible disappointment. Who do you think introduced the idea of romantic love into marriage? Rhett Butler? Did you know that I developed the zero birthday principle?
DEVIL: The zero birthday principle. On a woman's birthday, the man must do a myriad of selfless things just to get back to zero. He must get her flowers, a card, perhaps a cake, with candles, a gift which she does not need and would not buy for herself, and take her out to dinner just to get back to zero. He gets no points. None! If you see a man getting off work with balloons, a cake, flowers, and a gift with a look of despair on his face you can bet it's his girlfriend's or his wife's birthday. I love it! Then, you mix in a little pride and BOOM! A birthday celebration to remember! Then he despairs of ever making her feel as special as she needs to feel.
That's not a very flattering view of women. Are you saying they are evil?
DEVIL: Well, evil is a term I like to reserve for myself.
Why are you so interested in relationships?
DEVIL: Come on. Think. The vehicle for the greatest joy is also the vehicle for the greatest suffering. The scalpel that heals you can also kill you. It just depends on who holds it. I love fairy tales.
DEVIL: Yes. And happy endings ... provided they are only imaginary.
This makes us sound like we're just a bunch of misguided fools.
DEVIL: Your words, not mine.
Why did you agree to this interview then? Aren't you afraid you'll blow your cover?
DEVIL: Nah ~ nobody believes in old Satan anymore. I'm an antiquated idea you know, unproved as well When you claimed that God was dead, you figured I was as well. Since I am unproven by modern science, a figment of your imagination. I'm set for life. Think of it like this. You've been to church?
DEVIL: You dress a little better, try to think pure thoughts, get in a "religious" frame of mind, say hello to everyone? Smile. Right? But you sense a pervasive dichotomy during the week. You don't feel like it's who you really are. This is what I do with romance movies. The ideal relationships on the screen, two-dimensionally, are always, and only, experienced from a distance. They can't have it. They get discouraged. They seek comfort in a relationship. I've turned the natural human desire to believe down a cul-de-sac. It's the same with church. If I can make people associate God with this dichotomous feeling, they eventually say "What's the use?"
But there are exceptions. Some do believe. Some are happily married
DEVIL: Yes. And some win the lottery. There is no solution. Society is so depersonalized and isolating that no relationship can make up for the lack of community. It will get harder as more and more is expected, less and less is attainable. And that is what I'm all about. As a friend of mine once said, "Those best suited for love desire it least." The more lonely and miserable people are, the more they want that essential connection. But the more they want it, the less they can have it. Now, romance goes unquestioned. You are lucky to be living at a time when all my work is coming together. I've got people falling in and out of love so fast they don't even have time to think. And the beautiful thing is that many make it their goal in life. At that point they don't even need me or any of my films.
But, despite your motives, many of them are still good movies.
DEVIL: I knew there was something about you I liked. But I do need to go. I'm hosting the annual singles ball in Hades tonight. My pet Arthur Brown will be performing Fire live. I was unable to book the Stones in time. But then, they served me well at Altamount. It's sure to be a pitiful plethora of un-fulfillment. After all, I am the consummate, if you'll pardon the expression, matchmaker. I'm sure you've heard the expression "opposites attract?" That's mine!
So there's love in Hell?