Recapping Dante: Canto 12, or A Concerned Parent Contacts the FCC


Arts & Culture


Gustave Doré, Canto XII, lines 73, 74.

This winter, we’re recapping the Inferno. Read along!

To whom it may concern:

For the last several months my child has been watching the program The Inferno. I’ve had concerns about the moral integrity of this show since the beginning, but a recent episode, “Canto 12: Dante with a Vengeance” is perhaps the worst of it. The episode, which I heard about from my son and then felt concerned enough to watch myself, begins as the two main characters meet a Minotaur. I’m not trying to have my son indoctrinated with pagan dogma. I mean, what is this? I’ll let my son watch a show about talking vegetables so long as they’re telling the stories of Christ, but there’s something so frighteningly glib about the mythological image of a Minotaur being placed in front of children. Is no one worried about the future of American youth? And while we’re on it, let’s talk about these Virgil and Dante fellows. There’s something going on there, and I can tell you exactly what: sin.

But it gets worse. As the two sodomites (let’s call them what they are) travel past the creature, they’re surrounded by a series of centaurs. And I’ll tell you the exact same thing I told the executives at Warner Brothers when the fifth Harry Potter film had a scene with centaurs. The centaur is obviously a product of sin. And animal cruelty.

Allow me to set my faith aside for a minute, because the worst of The Inferno is not in its hunger for blasphemy. This is the work of a very, very sick mind. “Canto 12” prominently features a river of boiling blood in which the sinners are confined. Should they pop their heads too high, the centaurs pelt them with arrows. The whole scene is very graphic, and the blood looks very real. How do you even come up with that?

I can’t even begin to tell you all the questions my son asked after seeing this episode. Whose blood is it? What does boiling blood feel like? Can we boil blood when we get home? Of course the blood river is for violent sinners, but even I have a limit for punishing evil. Doesn’t Satan have a sense of moderation? I’d like a show that teaches my kid moderation. Alexander and Dionysius are present (and I’m certain those two are having a blast hanging out in a bath of frothing blood together for all of eternity). Attila was there as well. And so I can’t help but feel that this show is very anticolonialist, and I don’t know what they do in the USSR, or wherever you liberal pinko bureaucrats are from, but I’ll have you know that here in America we owe everything to colonial sympathizers.

My son also pointed out that the punishment fit the crime very well. Violence, blood, whatever. I was hoping to wait a few more years before sitting him down and explaining what irony is, but that moment has passed and this show has derailed my parental agenda. Let’s just hope Dante never finds Beatrice, because I’m definitely not ready to have that talk yet.

Let’s get back to the river of blood. There is literally an entire river of blood and people burning in it. How on earth (or how the hell, if you will) did that slip past you guys? What kind of operation are you running here?

If you want to be the ones to comfort my child when he wakes up in the middle of the night crying because had a dream that a centaur was going to lead him into a bath of scalding blood, and then abandon him in hell, leaving him to the device of a dead Roman poet, then by all means, keep this show on the air. Until then, please consider investigating the entire writing and production team of The Inferno. If you do, I’m sure you’ll find them all very deserving of a nice trip to Guantanamo.


An American mother

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Alexander Aciman is the author of Twitterature. He has written for the New York Times, Tablet, the Wall Street Journal, and TIME. Follow him on Twitter at @acimania.