2009: The year Michael Jackson died, 173 people perished on Black Saturday, and America’s first black president, Barack Obama, took office.
However, in Charmed’s imagining of a futuristic 2009, 1999’s flashforward episode “Morality Bites”, witches have been exposed and are now being burned at the stake.
Phoebe is set to burn for taking justice into her own hands and using her powers to avenge a friend’s death, “seeking to defy human nature with her way of life”.
Fastforward two years to 2011, and it’s not such a different place.
Uganda tried to push through the Kill the Gays bill, women still have to march in (Slut)walks to exert freedom of sexuality and reject blame for sexual assault, and Australia is still floundering over a carbon tax.
I’ve written on this here blog before that sometimes I get the feeling the world is regressing, especially in terms of the environment and reproductive rights.
We still vilify those who dare to lead a lifestyle outside the norm, whether it is viewed as a “choice” or not. In Charmed’s fictional world, witches could be seen as a metaphor for the “other”: people of colour, the gays, people with disabilities and, most pertinently in 2011, transpeople.
The episode could also be a metaphor for the death penalty.
When Phoebe kills baseballer Cal Greene for killing her friend, she takes the law into her own hands, and is therefore sentenced to death. An eye for an eye.
Before Phoebe accepts her fate and submits to burning alive, she tells her executioner, Nathaniel Pratt, that while she’s paying for her crime, there will come a day when he’ll have to pay for his, too. While the death penalty isn’t an issue in Australia (if it were I’d be—controversially, perhaps—for it. However, there seems to be something sickly satisfying for victims and their families to see a perpetrator rot in prison for life… Jaycee Duggard’s abductors, anyone?), the question of who decides if a person dies and who administers the lethal injection (or in this case, “gathers the kindling”) remains. And how can a person live with that on their conscience.
Charmed may be all fluff, unrealistic demon-fighting outfits and “nipple fats”, as my friend Eddie noted, but every now and then it does deal with the big issues, consciously or not.
Images via Wikia, Gamespot, PPP The Power of 3, Hopeless Obsession.