Transgressive Representations: Satanic Ritual Abuse, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, and First Transmission

Journal Article - Literature & Aesthetics 21 (2) December 2011

Articulating the acceptable and unacceptable limits of representation is an unquestionably fraught undertaking.Late Western modernity provides ample illustration of the often-contentious nature of representation, with recent events supplying a surfeit of examples where normative limits of representation have been uncomfortably transgressed, often generating public outcry and claims of wrongdoing. This article explores one such instance, the 1992 broadcast of an episode of the Channel 4 programme Dispatches, entitled “Beyond Belief,‟ in the United Kingdom. Now, twenty years after the fact, this episode and its broader context provide a fascinating, if disturbing, view into an extraordinary, though somewhat predictable, series of events. Taking the inherent ambiguity posed by the notion of the limits of representation as a starting point, this article will address the incident through a framework of transgression, seeking to articulate some of the varying ways in which such limits were breached, exceeded, and redefined.