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How the Internet Helped Fuel the Mother God Cult

Amy Carlson or Mother God, a woman with a silver complexion sits outside in 'Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God.'

HBO Max’s latest docuseries examines the cult started by Amy Carlson, also known as Mother God. Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God director Hannah Olson sat down with us to discuss the series.

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Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God follows the life of Amy Carlson as she went from a McDonald’s manager and mother of three to the leader of an internet cult. After researching spirituality on the internet, Carlson’s life changed. She left her family, moved to a different state, and took on the persona of Mother God. Broadcasting her ideas across the internet through YouTube videos and live-streams, Carlson recruited others to join her. But, as depicted in the first episode of the docuseries, Carlson’s path ended with the police finding her mummified body in the cult’s headquarters.

We spoke with director, Hannah Olson, about how she began Love Has Won. “I found this story and became it was layered in a way that really interested me,” Olson said. “I was immediately kind of interested in Amy’s back story. When I found the story, I wondered how a McDonald’s manager with three kids could become a mummified cult leader. Then it was kind of in answering that question and how could this fate befall someone that I realized it had something to do with the internet. And these questions I was asking about class and the internet and reality.”

Without proper resources, people flock to the internet for help

“I think you know in the ’90s and early 2000s, we thought that the Internet would be a kind of like encyclopedia, and a way to air information and connectivity. And then the internet became more of a kind of choose your own adventure novel, right? It’s like a hall of mirrors, and once you get hooked into an algorithm that starts noticing your preferences and your worldview, those ideas are reinforced.”

The internet continued to play a huge part in Carlson’s message. “Her beliefs are internet-generated,” Olson pointed out. She used the internet to draw in others who experienced traumas and had no means to cope. Carlson and her followers dove deeply into conspiracy theories surrounding Big Pharma and how we all live in “the matrix.”

“Amy really empowered vulnerable people or traumatized people, where she gave them a framework to make sense of reality, and I think this idea that we can just heal our social ills—lack of mental health care, lack of widespread access to good healthcare—the idea that we can heal that with a feeling felt very American to me. ‘Oh, we don’t need systemic changes. We don’t need to look at these policies or provide basic services for people. You can just heal yourself.'”

Tune in to HBO or Max tonight to watch the third and final installment of Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God.

(featured image: Max)

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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.

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