“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” the new Netflix series about Sabrina, the Teenage Witch of Riverdale – is getting mixed to good reviews on story and great ones on the performance of Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper in “Mad Men”) as the spooky heroine. However, one group is so upset with the show that it plans to sue the media-services provider – and Netflix should be worried because they have access to the best lawyers. The group is The Satanic Temple and their beef is about Netflix using their copyrighted design of the monument to Baphomet.
“Yes, we are taking legal action regarding #TheChillingAdventuresofSabrina appropriating our copyrighted monument design to promote their asinine Satanic Panic fiction.”
The Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious and political activist group based in Salem, Massachusetts, and co-founded by Lucien Greaves, the organization's spokesperson, and Malcolm Jarry. Their stated mission is "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people" through the use of Satanic imagery. So it makes sense, whether you agree with it or not, that the group would be upset with the use of an image they designed on a fictional show that doesn’t exactly put their work or beliefs in a positive light. Other religions might even call this blasphemy.
"It's distressing on the grounds that you have to worry about that association being made where people will see your monument and not know which preceded the other, and thinking that you arbitrarily decided to go with the Sabrina design for your Baphomet monument, which rather cheapens our central icon."
Greaves told the SFGate that their Baphomet monument predates the show, having been unveiled in 2015 at their Detroit temple after being designed via a 2014 crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo. The statue depicts Baphomet, sometimes called the Satanic Goat, with two children in a way the group feels reflects its mission. The statue of Baphomet on “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is inside the Academy of Unseen Arts, the school Sabrina attends to learn the way of the “Dark Lord.”
"It's deeply problematic to us. (But) even if that wasn't the case we'd be obligated to make a copyright claim because that's how copyright works."
While you can’t sue for blasphemy (at least in the US … yet), you can for copyright infringement and that’s what their lawyers plan to do. Co-founder Malcolm Jarry say the group has a copyright on their Baphomet statue filed with the Library of Congress. Greaves, to the surprise of those who don’t understand the group’s purpose, is not out for blood. He says he’ll be happy if the producers of the show just remove their statue from all episodes, which he believes should be easy because it looks like it’s CGI-generated.
What do the people at “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” think? Prior to the talk of lawsuit, Sabrina production designer Lisa Soper said in a VICE interview that similarities between the Baphomet statues are “kind of a coincidence” but the show’s design is “wholly original” and “no different from, in my opinion anyhow... from any other of the mass amounts of iterations of him that have been around."
Fighting over Baphomet goes back to 1307 when the name was first and falsely associated with the Knights Templar and its origins have been debated ever since. Depictions have evolved as well, although the goat head remains a constant.
Who will win this latest battle over Baphomet? The side with the better lawyers. Just don’t call it a battle between good and evil or you may be getting sued too.