Written by 5:06 am Opinion

The New Truth

In an era where misinformation and conspiracy theories seem to dominate, a carefully crafted narrative is always bound to become the new truth.

In Netflix’s latest series, Hellbound, random people from various places in Seoul are subjected to condemnations by strange, unearthly beings. When the timer sets off after receiving their prophesied date and time of death from a floating face, three massive, supernatural creatures come to beat them up and are believed to pummel the people in question to Hell.

Founded on the idea that this bizarre phenomenon is divine justice, a religious group, called The New Truth, was formed, led by a chairman who has instilled in his followers that this is a way for God to punish those who have greatly sinned; a narrative tailored to fit his agenda. Then on, those who receive the decree are labeled as sinners, and are therefore scrutinized in the eyes of the public. Among those who took the scrutiny too seriously is the radical group composed of The New Truth followers who call themselves as The Arrowhead; they physically harass the so-called sinners, believing they are doing God’s work.

From a standpoint, we see that Hellbound explores the horrors of religious fanaticism and how this immensely influences the entirety of a community, especially once it seeps its way through the political landscape. Zooming into the scenes, we realize there are actually more occurrences in the series that are parallels with real life than we first perceived it to have. There’s the incitement of polarization by social media influencers, the vigilante justice by The Arrowhead, the extremely apparent power abuse by religious leaders, the doxing committed by netizens, the cancel culture, and the list goes on. Clearly, there is so much to dissect from the six-episode series. But all these are rooted from the manipulation of a narrative by those seated in authority.

The thing is, religion is not the only thing that creates fanatics; essentially anything can give rise to zealots, take politics for example. When we fail to distinguish the fine line between mere support and fanaticism, chaos will inevitably ensue. We have seen this many times before, and the U.S.—believed to be one of the most progressive countries—had its fair share of this when the QAnon devotees stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.

With the current political climate in the Philippines, I am pretty sure our country wouldn’t be able to take such a level of political turmoil. We have been given a glimpse of these ill-shaped stories—from the Marcoses’ historical revisionism records to the Duterte regime’s deliberate cover-ups of the war on drugs’ killings. And no matter what these narratives contain, they all serve the same purpose of elevating the status of select prominent figures. The moment it manages to penetrate through the majority, there’s no knowing where we might end up heading towards; an Arrowhead? An extremely polarized society? Or perhaps a country with several New Truths? I only hope not.

Unless we want to suffer the same fate as Hellbound’s deluded citizens, let us do ourselves a favor—be open-minded and fact-check. Because if we don’t, every single Filipino would undoubtedly be at the receiving end of our very own version of “You are bound for Hell.”

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Ayesha Tulete is a senior BS Biomedical Engineering student and was the Associate Editor for Website of The BEACON from A.Y. 2020-2021.

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