In which I give my thoughts on ‘Conjuring 3’ several days late.

Over in China, a herd of elephants have been wandering hundreds of miles from their nature reserve and have become worldwide celebrities. Here they are taking a nap, being adorable:

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So, I watched Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It this weekend and: WOOF. Those of you who have been reading Foolish Watcher for a while know that I’m a horror fan, and I truly loved the first Conjuring movie. The second Conjuring movie was fine. It was based on a true story that I was much more familiar with, and I genuinely think I would have enjoyed the movie more going into it if I hadn’t known as much about the Enfield poltergeist, as my own doubts about the real case interfered with my suspension of disbelief.

As for the true story behind The Conjuring 3, I knew nothing about it, and I went into it something of a blank slate. Sort of. Here’s the thing, I am not exactly consistent: I don’t personally believe in demonic possession, but I still think The Exorcist is one of the most terrifying movies ever made, and there have been other possession/exorcism films that I felt worked really well (The Last Exorcism is particularly effective). So I’m a mixed bag: I don’t actually believe in possession, yet a good possession film can properly scare me.

And that’s the problem: The Conjuring 3? It is not a good possession film. The bare bones of it is, like all of the Conjuring movies, based on a true story: In 1981, a nice Connecticut family is dogged by some sort of demon or demons. First, an 11-year-old boy is supposedly possessed, and then his older sister’s boyfriend, Arne Johnson, harbors the demon, during which he murders a man. The Warrens are brought in at first to help the 11-year-old, and then to help Johnson’s criminal defense, to “prove” he was possessed at the time, and therefore not guilty of murder. And here’s where the movie goes off the rails: what seems like is being set up to be a supernatural legal drama instead veers off into an origin story for the demon itself. AND SPOILER ALERT (scroll over to read): It was conjured by a mean lady witch who summoned the demon to possess good innocent white Christian men she has never met. For reasons. Don’t worry about it. The writers certainly didn’t.

Nothing makes me angrier than when a plot gets in the way of a good story, and the story of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first person in America to use demonic possession as a criminal defense, should have been interesting enough without a bunch of (again, spoiler font) basic misogyny getting in the way. They potentially had something, and then they threw it all away because they were worried audiences would be bored if they couldn’t figure out a way to insert a bunch of jump scares into a courtroom scene.

But my bigger problem with the movie is not spoilery at all, and more of a broader question of whether a movie like this, about demonic possession and children in peril and satanic cults, couched in a veneer of “BUT IT’S A TRUE STORY!!!!” is what our national dialogue needs right now when it’s possible as many as 20% of Americans believe in the QAnon conspiracy.

The Conjuring 3 is set in 1981, one year after the advent of Satanic Panic here in the United States, a moral panic that erupted after the publication of Michelle Remembers, a supposed memoir by a woman who claimed to have recovered suppressed memories of Satanic rituals she was forced to attend. (We also can’t dismiss the import of The Exorcist, which was released some seven years earlier.) In 1983, we have the McMartin Preschool Trial, and soon after you have accusations of satanism being involved with everything from Dungeons & Dragons to heavy metal music.

Of course, the Satanic Panic didn’t really go away; we didn’t just collectively wake up one day and realize how ridiculous these accusations were. They’ve just morphed into QAnon conspiracies of DNC members harvesting adrenochrome from children and rich Jews building space lasers to create wildfires. And these insane fears of evil cabals sacrificing babies go back much further than the 1980s, extending well past the Nazis, and all the way into the earliest days of Christianity and antisemitic accusations of blood libel. It’s all one and the same. And so it’s difficult for me to watch a film like The Conjuring 3 — which was number one in the box office this weekend — and not worry about how this is going to contribute to a malignant conspiracy that has already infected so many Americans’ brains.

Also, too, it’s just very poorly written and relies on entirely too much on the dumb jump scare. Maybe the original made-for-TV movie about the case starring Kevin Bacon, Andy Griffith, and Cloris Leachman, The Demon Murder Case (which also features some amazingly terrible VHS art) is better?

As for how I watched The Conjuring 3, I was not one of the millions of Americans who went to the movies to do so. I use an Apple TV for my streaming purposes and it was my undoing. This past weekend, my older son was loudly complaining that the Apple remote was being a jerk while he was trying to watch one of the Harry Potter movies — it wasn’t rewinding or something, I wasn’t really paying attention because my older son is something of a complainer, and the Apple TV remote can be overly sensitive and terrible. But then when I was trying to watch Legendary on HBO Max and Conjuring 3, I found that if you even attempted to rewind or fast-forward, you would find yourself at the beginning of what you were watching or at the very end, with no way to control where it stopped. It was infuriating! But I also thought that it was just me being an old. But twist: it wasn’t!

HBO Max was like, “Our bad,” and says they’ve fixed it, but I haven’t gone near the app since, so I can’t personally verify.

It’s Loki Day! The Ringer has a good summary of Loki’s story to refresh your memory before you dive into the Disney+ series, and also, too, Disney has confirmed that Loki is a gender-fluid god. (As if there was any question.)

I swear I’ll stop talking about Mare of Easttown eventually, but not today, because Pennsylvania’s favorite convenience store Wawa is going to sell a Mare Of Easttown Spicy Cheesesteak for one week only. (And it sounds pretty good.)

Entertainment Weekly has some first-look shots from the final season of The Walking Dead.

The National Archives of Game Show History has been established at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y.

Harry and Meghan are SO MAD at the BBC right now.

President Biden has revoked the ban on TikTok that Former President Sleazeball tried to implement.

Alyssa Milano is thinking about getting even more political:

Going Viral

According to The New York Times, we had 14,031 new COVID cases yesterday. A week ago, that number was 17,119, and the week before that it was 24,034, so we’re beginning to plateau a little bit. 171.7 million of us have received at least one dose, and 140.4 million are completely vaccinated. Go get your jab, people. We’re so close to the goal of 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4 … and those of you in my own Harris county, go get your kids vaccinated, guys. We are at only 37% of all people 12 and older vaccinated. That’s … NOT GREAT.

So … Dr. Fauci has become the target of a new conspiracy theory stemming from the release of his personal and work emails under the FOIA act. And in those emails … was nothing new? Yet the right is claiming that the emails prove that he knew all along that masks were never needed and that the virus was engineered by the evil Chinese to kill us all vs. being a cross-species event. How did they get there? Well, in one email early into the pandemic, Dr. Fauci responded to an email from a woman about masks, telling her that masks were really for just the infected, and not for healthy people’s protection. At the time, we didn’t know about asymptomatic spread or, honestly, how this virus was being spread at all, and masks were in short supply. He changed his position as information became available. As for the Wuhan Lab theory, other people emailed Dr. Fauci about it, but his position is, “hey, I mean, I guess anything is possible, and we should investigate, but ultimately, I think this is a jumping from species event.” The problem, as I see it, is nuance, and the conspiracy theorists inability to grasp it.

Y’all. I shouldn’t have to say this, but there are no microchips in the vaccine and there is no metal in the vaccines and the vaccine will not make you magnetic. Stop it.

Here in Houston, Methodist Hospitals, one of our largest hospital systems has made the vaccine mandatory for its employees because UH DUH, making it the first major hospital system in the country to do so, which is interesting on multiple levels. They have suspended 178 employees who have refused the vaccine for two weeks. They have until June 21 to get the shot or they will be fired. GOOD.

The NFL may bar unvaccinated staff and coaches from interacting with players in person, on the field, or in locker rooms. GOOD. It turns out there are some assistant coaches who are refusing to get jabbed. WELP, TOO BAD.

Dr. Naomi Wolf was kicked off of Twitter after one too many unhinged COVID conspiracy posts, this time urging sewer systems to separate out the urine and feces of vaccinated people? She’s not well.

If you live in Washington state and get the vaccine, you can get a free joint from your local weed shop.

With fewer than 50 days to go before the Tokyo Olympics, some 10,000 volunteers quit. But NBC is plugging on, announcing 7,000 hours of programming from the Games.

When Stephen Colbert returns to the Ed Sullivan Theater for shows in front of live audiences, Jon Stewart will be his first guest.

Conan will perform in front of a live audience for his last two weeks of shows.

Jimmy Fallon welcomed back a fully vaccinated, but still masked studio audience on Monday.

The White House Press Briefing Room was also at full capacity this week.

Madison Square Garden will open at full capacity on June 20 with a Foo Fighters concert; Carnegie Hall in October; Springsteen on Broadway returns on June 26; and a massive concert will be held in Central Park in August.

This is an interesting piece on shooting sex scenes in the time of COVID, and apparently, the cast of Mare of Easttown quarantined together to be able to maintain a sense of intimacy. On my soap opera, General Hospital, I noticed that love scenes had been greatly reduced over the past year and when kisses were required, the actors would lean in towards one another and the scene would abruptly end before contact was made. But hey, they got new episodes on air, so.

Golfer Jon Rahm learned he was COVID positive during the middle of a PGA Tournament.

Uh-oh, someone tested positive on Mission: Impossible 7 set. Someone is gonna get yelled at.

France has decided that travelers from the U.K. and the U.S. can enter if they are fully vaccinated or test negative fewer than 72 hours before travel, so it’s Cannes Film Festival time, kids!

The Netflix is a Joke comedy festival that was supposed to debut last year but … didn’t, will now take place next spring.

Apple wants you layabouts back in the office in the fall.

These parents put their three-year-old into piano lessons during lockdown and whaddya know, she’s a goddamned prodigy who will be playing Carnegie Hall this November.

Renewals

  • Hacks has been renewed for a second season at HBO Max. Good!
  • Die Hart has been renewed for a second season at Roku Channel.

Cancellations

In Development

Casting News

Mark Your Calendars

  • Evil returns — on Paramount+ — on June 20.
  • Invasion premieres on Apple TV+ on July 23.
  • Fear Street will premiere on Netflix on July 2.
  • Another Life will debut on Netflix this fall.
  • Outer Banks returns on Netflix on July 30.
  • Cold Justice returns on Oxygen on July 10.
  • Wolfgang will premiere on Disney+ on June 25.
  • The Snoopy Show returns on Apple TV+ on July 9.
  • Ridley Jones will premiere on Netflix Jr. on July 13.

R.I.P.

Erin O’Brien, Singer and actress

WATCH THIS

Loki: Loki steps out of his brother’s shadow in this new series that I’m pretty sure will be the thing that everyone is talking about for the next several weeks. Series premiere. Disney+

Awake: Gina Rodriguez stars in this terrifying-looking thriller about a mysterious global event that wipes out humanity’s ability to sleep. Premiere. Netflix

A Million Little Things: Sophie seeks out justice in the two-hour season finale. 8 p.m., ABC

Vanderpump Dogs: This new reality series follows the stories of the pets who are adopted out of Lisa Vanderpump’s pet rescue foundation. Series premiere. Peacock

CMT Music Awards: Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker host the awards. 7 p.m., CMT

Late Night:

  • Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Kristen Bell, Dane DeHaan, Migos
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers: Will Forte, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Brendan Buckley
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Samuel L. Jackson, Padma Lakshmi
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden: Lisa Kudrow, Clea Duvall, Rostam
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live: Liam Neeson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, T-Pain & Kehlani
  • The Daily Show: The Daily Social Distancing Show
  • Conan: Kevin Nealon
  • Watch What Happens Live: Paul Scheer, Kyle Richards

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A Million Little Things
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CBS Kids Say the Darndest Things
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S.W.A.T.
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S.W.A.T.
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CW Kung Fu
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Whose Line Is It Anyway?
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Whose Line Is It Anyway?
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Local
FOX MasterChef
(new)
Crime Scene Kitchen
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News/Local
NBC Chicago Med
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Chicago Fire
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Chicago P.D.
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