Netflix’s “Sweet Tooth” Makes A Better Environmental Statement Than The Comic Book

Image Source: Comic Book

The Netflix series “Sweet Tooth” and comic book have two different origin stories with two different purposes of ‘The Sick.’ In the show, it’s an environmental statement, but in the comic, it’s an act of revenge.

In the show, we learn that Pubba and Bear believe the virus is Nature’s way of healing herself from humans’ destruction. And that the hybrid children are supposed to rise and become the new inhabitants of Earth.

But without their expression, this would be a common belief among the audience since our reduced activity has reduced air and water pollution during the pandemic. It didn’t reset Earth, but we saw her revive a bit.

So because of our own experience with a pandemic, the theory seems very plausible, especially when the COVID virus came from a bat. Yet, the show loses this probability after revealing the virus was created by accident in a failed experiment.

But let’s remember how Gus was born.

Birdie’s scientific research focused on creating vaccines. The vaccines’ creation involved a microbe being injected and incubated in chicken eggs. But when she did this, she ended up conceiving Gus. So the way Gus was born showed that there must be something beyond science involved without getting problematic. 

Image Source: Sird

The “Sweet Tooth” comic culturally appropriates an Inuit god.

In the comic, Gus was cloned from a hybrid skeleton that belonged to an Inuit god named Tekkeitsertok. His rebirth then came with great disturbance since ‘The Sick’ soon followed. But in the comic's backstory, it’s revealed that it wasn’t the first time.

Back in the 1900s, an English missionary named Louis stumbled upon a cave with tombs belonging to the Inuit gods whose physical form was half-human, half-animal. When he opened one, he disturbed Tekkeitsertok, the god of the earth, which was cautioned would result in severe consequences. And as predicted, a sickness started killing everyone, even the Inuit.

But amid the sickness, Louis’s Inuit wife gave birth to the reincarnation of Tekkeitsertok. Because of this, Louis and the Inuit then made it their duty to raise the child, but the missionaries killed the Inuit and murdered the child. Luckily, the Englishmen didn’t escape the sickness by doing this and eventually died. 

Though when modern scientists found the skeletons, they cloned Tekkeitsertok and gave birth to Gus, which led to a virus outbreak and the repetition of the past at a global scale, showing that ‘The Sick’ is an act of revenge. This is further supported when it’s revealed that the group of scientists cloned the gods to weaponize their powers. In other words, 'The Sick' is a punishment for disturbing the gods’ sleep. 

But the story took a religious turn of Gus being born to judge humans since he brought 'The Sick' with him.

Image Source: Zip Comics

Doing this illustrates Tekkeitsertok and the others as angry gods, which is the colonial essence of their Christain god named Jesus, considering fear is a Christian tactic to control people. 

This essence is further proven with Pabba being a god-fearing man who believes he is a prophet and records history in a journal, which is where this information is found. So it was also him who wrote that Gus was their new messiah.

The Inuit did say their gods would come back, but these ideas of a messiah and prophets are Christain concepts, which shouldn't be inserted in Native spirituality. The author then essentially colonized an Inuit deity with Christan concepts as a backstory and plot explanation. 

Fiction in its own right, this insertion of christening an Inuit god is a reminder of colonization and how it’s ongoing. And since the Native believe in their deities, stories like these are highly disrespectful. 

However, the Netflix show hasn’t introduced the comic’s backstory with Tekkeitsertok. And hopefully, they won’t. Because without his existence, they’d avoid cultural appropriation. 

Netflix’s “Sweet Tooth” emphasizes that Nature is an entity meant to be respected. 

In the show, the way Gus was born implemented a spiritual aspect, but you may ask what does that have to do with ‘The Sick?’

Well, ‘The Sick’ or aka H5G9, came from the same microbe Birdie experimented and created Gus with. In fact, she expressed that if the experiment was done wrong, all hell could break loose. Birdie even states that ‘The Sick’ and the hybrid children are the different sides of the same coin. And since the military were confiscating her research, these references likely point at the government’s failure to replicate her experiment.

Because of this, it can be hard to accept that Nature created the virus as a form of healing since the virus was “man-made.”

Although this may be true, this is a common rationale most people have since they’re disconnected from Nature.

People with this logic have a Christain perspective since they believe god created animals to rule with a hierarchy of humans being superior to animals. And since animals are in Nature, and there’s this separation between animals and humans, they also separate themselves from Nature. So they view Nature as ‘the other’ rather than being connected to it like everything else, despite the harm humans do. Either or, this Christain perspective views Nature as anything not touched by humans, making their creations lose their connection to Nature. This is especially true when something is produced synthetically. 

Although the scientists manipulated the microbe, the possibility of it becoming deadly was only there because Nature gave it that possibility. In other words, Nature made the microbe they were working on deadly to replace their lives with hybrid children. This may not make sense because of its involvement in spirituality, but this concept is driven home with the purple flowers. 

Image Source: Screen Rant

The purple flowers indicate ‘The Sick’s’ presence, so whenever a person has ‘The Sick,’ purple flowers appear on their lawn, and after spreading far and wide, they eventually cover cities. And considering, ‘The Sick’ ultimately leads to death, the purple flowers represent Nature’s reclaim. 

But then there’s the question about the difference between the conception of Gus and the others.

In my opinion, without Gus’s supernatural birth, it would be difficult to prove ‘The Sick’ and the hybrid children’s connection to Nature since the answer would simply lie in mutation. 

However, the purple flowers would be the only proof of Nature being responsible. Plus, there was also a moment when a giant stag stood behind Gus when the Last Men threatened his life. The stag stepped forward but then stepped back and disappeared after Jepperd clobbered the Last Men. 

That moment of manifestation shows how Gus is connected to Nature and how she was really to defend him, which I believe is true because of my Native spirituality. In my particular tribe, the deer represents harmony among nature, so to me, when the stag came to Gus’s defense supported that Gus and the hybrid children are the new inhabitants of Earth.

Because of this, Gus’s supernatural birth doesn’t seem all too necessary, so I fear that Netflix might connect his birth to Tekkeitsertok, especially since the stag might be a reference to Tekkeitsertok since he’s depicted as a caribou. But even if they use Jesus to avoid cultural appropriation, the presence of a god would kill the entity of Nature and would recreate the view that disasters are from their doing, which can reaffirm to Christians that global warming and issues alike aren’t real.

There’s Irony in the Animal Activism in Netflix’s “Sweet Tooth.” 

Yet despite the environmental statement the show makes, some irony exists with the Animal Army. 

To recap, the Animal Army is a group of teenagers who live in an abandoned amusement park. Their leader is Bear, and together, they protect hybrid children. 

The Animal Army protects them since they believe hybrid children are close to nature because they’re half-animal and therefore meant to be the new inhabitants of Earth. Though ironically, this is a Christain perspective since they view humans as separate from Nature when all living things are connected, even humans. If we weren’t, the planet wouldn’t be damaged, but we are part of its ecosystem, so our activity affects Earth. In other words, the view and acknowledgment that Nature is an entity are from a spiritual perspective, but the Animal Army’s belief about the hybrid children is a Christain one. 

Image Source: Desfrute Cultural

However, their Christain belief doesn’t change the fact that Nature is healing Earth because even if we’re connected to Nature, humans have treated the planet disrespectfully. 

To add on, despite their belief, the Animal Army wears animal fur and animal skulls as helmets. They also have a tiger in a storage container, which they only let loose to execute Jepperd for being a former Last Men.

Plus, because the tiger needs to eat, it seems like the Animal Army kills animals behind the scenes to keep the tiger as a weapon, which is probably how they got their fur and skulls as “tribal clothing” since they do have regular clothes. Inhumane as it is, the irony reveals the hypocrisy of real-life organizations like PETA.

However, there are organizations that genuinely care and help animals. In the show, the counter organization is The Preserve, which is a place that has resources to take care of hybrid children. So despite the irony of The Animal Army, the existence of The Preserve shows that not every organization is a hypocrite.

With that said, the Netflix series “Sweet Tooth” presents some irony with The Animal Army, but they create a balance with The Preserve to show the different sides that organizations can have. 

In addition, Netflix's absence of religion creates an environmental statement, all while relating our lives with the story's post-apocalyptic world. 

Except, the purpose of Gus’s is unanswered, which can turn into something religious if they add a god. Or worse, they might culturally appropriate an Inuit god if they add Tekkeitsertok. 

Hi! Hello! My pronouns are she/her, and I'm a storyteller who loves tea and cats.

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