Friday, November 14, 2008

Moral Panic Master Class

I’ve talked a lot about ‘moral panics’ in the past. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, a ‘moral panic’ is essentially when the whole country decides that ‘something’ (usually a form of popular entertainment) is totally immoral, harmful and must be banned immediately.

However, in the real world, a moral panic is far more likely to be a media-induced morality crusade against something that is a relatively harmless so it can be used as a scapegoat or a timely distraction from a real issue…or a way to score political points or get yourself on TV.

For example, on April 20th 1999, Two high school students shot up their school, killing twelve people and wounding 23 others.

How did the nation react? Did they ask how two highschoolers managed to get their hands on high-powered semi-auto rifles and get them onto school grounds? Did they ask how these kids’ parents and teachers failed to notice how disturbed and maladjusted these kids were? Did they look deeply into these kids’ home lives to discover the cause of their murderous rampage?

Nope. Everyone blamed Marilyn Manson.

Anyway, Last night, I stumbled across this old PSA on the ‘dangers of pornography’. While it is undoubtedly hilarious, it’s also a classic example of how to incite a moral panic. So watch the video, and see how many bullshit tactics you can spot.

So, how many did you spot? In case you missed them, here they are. An all-inclusive guide on how to start a moral panic in order to enforce your narrow viewpoint on everyone else:

1) There is no such thing as over-exaggeration.

From the video:

“…I’d like to be begin with a fact. A simple yet shocking fact. It is this. A flood-tide of flith is engulfing our country in the form on news-stand obscenity.”

Really? A couple of 60’s era Playboys count as a ‘flood-tide of filth’?

2) Everything is always about ‘The Children’.

Ah, ‘The Children’. It appears that no matter what people are arguing against, they can always somehow make the point that their point of view ‘Protects The Children’.

“…and is threatening to pervert an entire generation of our American Children.

3) Make outrageously false claims while representing them as 100% cast-iron fact.


“This same type of rot and decay caused 16 of the major 19 civilizations to vanish from the earth…all crumbled away, not because of the strength of the aggressor, but because of moral decay from within.”

Really? Empires crumbled because of porn, and not all that other stuff like invading armies, economic factors and all those other reasonable, well researched reasons I read about in history class?

“We know that once a person is perverted, it is practically impossible for that person to adjust to normal attitudes in regards to sex.”

You didn’t know that, did you? Not only will seeing a picture of some boobs turn little Timmy into a total pervert, once he’s so much as glanced at those boobs…there’s just no hope for him.

Of course, I could write a hundred thousand word dissertation on the above quote alone, however, what really cracks me up is the idea of a person ‘becoming perverted’ from looking at a Playboy, and the idea of ‘normal attitudes’ towards sex. Exactly what is a ‘normal attitude’ towards sex? In my experience, being terrified that a playboy is going to turn an entire generation into perverted rapists is far from a ‘normal attitude’ to sex.

4) Be sure to never mention your sources for these ‘facts’.

This is so you can say whatever the hell you want, no matter how ridiculous or untrue, and still sound authoritative and informed:

“Yet, much of this material has been described as an illustrated, detailed course in perversion.”

Yes, a pictures of naked ladies have been described as such…by you, and the people paying for your film. I would also like to point out that much of your film has been described as complete and total bullshit.

5) Pick a popular societal ‘villain’ and drag them in somehow, it doesn’t matter how big or unreasonable the leap is.

“…He is even enticed to enter the world of homosexuals, lesbians, sadists, masochists and other sex deviants!

Yep, little Timmy looking at playboys and its many pictures of boobs is probably going to make him mad for cock at some point in the future. I can’t remember the number of times I looked at pictures of gigantic boobs and thought “Hmmm, I wonder what it’s like to suck a dick?”

Oh, wait, I didn’t…because I’m not gay!

6) Feel free to just make shit up.

Seriously. No matter how ridiculous, no matter how paper thin your story, even if it can be blown out of the water by three second’s rational thought.

“They can be bought openly by anyone in drug-stores, grocery stores, delicatessens, terminals, malt shops, cigar shops, newsstands, all over the community. They can be bought by children.”

You know, I live in 2008, a time that’s far more permissive sexually than when this film was made…and yet in my entire life, I’ve never seen hardcore gay porn being sold at my local grocery store or deli.

7) Make your audience feel powerless. There is nothing they can do…apart from support you and your cause, of course

“…and it is important to realize that even if you knew that your own children would never, under any conditions buy or read this material…if you knew this, and you can’t know this…you must realize that they are constantly exposed to those who do read this material, and who might be triggered into compulsive acts of sex violence.

Yep, just parenting your own kids isn’t enough. You have to enforce your morality on the rest of society, because if you don’t, your kids will be turned perverted and gay from porn…and even if they don’t, they’ll get anally raped by someone who has.

Ok, ok, I know by now a lot of you are laughing at how stupid the video is, and how ridiculous the claims are…but the truth is that this same shit is happening today.

Think of the things the media has said about Rap Music, Hip-Hop, Video Games and the Internet. I’ve talked about these things often enough in previous posts, so I won’t go into it here…just the next time you watch the news and hear about how something is going to destroy society…think about it before you jump on any bandwagons.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

That was hilarious.....