In the Renaissance, Hell was seen as a physical place. Humanist author Dante Alighieri wrote about Hell in Inferno, the first part of his Divine Comedy. He describes Hell as a literal pit in the center of the earth, with nine circles of increasingly gruesome punishments for the sinful souls that inhabit it.
People’s vision of Hell has evolved over time. Movies such as Constantine portray Hell as a twisted mirror image of the world around us, and Event Horizon shows a hell where your worst fears come to life. Comedians like Janeane Garofolo have parodied Hell, making up comical versions of what their own personal Hell would be like. I really hate Garofolo, but I find the idea of having my own personal Hell interesting. What would it be like?
The first thing I can think of is that Good Charlotte music would be playing constantly. I can’t stand that whiny stuff, and their music could drive me insane. If the music fails to drive me crazy, Satan would step it up a notch. I would be forced to moderate a four-way debate between Michael Moore, Bill O’ Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Being forced to listen to these partisan, overly opinionated pundits forever would drive any normal person out of their mind, me included.
If by some chance the first two punishments didn’t work, the legions of Hell would have to whip out the big guns. I would be forced to edit the footage for a generic MTV reality TV show to get it ready to air on Hell’s only network, HTV. I’d have to sift through 100 plus hours of horrible, soulless footage and cut it down to 20 half-hour episodes. But, every time I got close to finishing, I would receive more footage. This process would continue eternally, forever damning me to watch 20-year olds get drunk and compete in asinine contests.
Of course, this is a satirical look at Hell, and is probably nothing like the real thing. If there is a real thing, I can’t claim to know. But there is one thing I know: Hell is a word used to describe the place where the unrepentant go after they die. But the truth is that Hell is just a word. The reality is probably much worse.