Tori Spelling’s Vodou altar

Many moons ago, I was channel surfing one night and happened upon Tori Spelling receiving a ritual bath from Mama Lola. What follows isn’t that clip, but it’s a different scene in which Mama Lola and another Vodou practitioner, Zaar, help Spelling set up an altar in her home.

It would be interesting to analyze this clip sometime with a class and think about how Vodou is being portrayed. How are viewers meant to respond to this? Is this supposed to be educational–i.e., are viewers supposed to be taking Vodou seriously? Or is this supposed to be amusing–oh, look at the crazy alternative spirituality on which this celebrity is spending her time (and presumably money)? Is the show setting itself to be able to claim to do one while doing the other? Is it intending to do both at once as part of some self-consciously postmodern aesthetic? How should we read the music cues? Are we supposed to empathize with the mocking male friend or find him annoying–a model of how we shouldn’t respond? Are we supposed to sympathize with Zaar’s patience or find him absurdly pretentious? Or is the scene being deliberately put together to authorize divergent reactions for maximal audience appeal?

Bottom line: Is this media depiction good for Vodou?

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