Satan explains the plan behind rock music. (Strangely, he seems to misremember that he founded Mötley Crüe in 1981.)
It has long been known
that the older generation has always been suspicious of those things that capture the attention of the younger generation. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of entertainment.
At least once a decade
, something new — a new genre, a new medium, what have you — comes along and grabs society by the cojones. Everybody's heard of it
, and it's not long until someone
comes by and realizes, "Hey, if I complain about this
, everyone will listen to me!" Things that are new are unknown, and when something is unknown a dash of Nothing Is Scarier
can be injected.
So they do; they make great warnings about how it's corrupting the moral fiber of poor, helpless children
with inexorable brainwashing
; they claim it increases juvenile delinquency, decreases attention span, and pollutes their bodily fluids
. If they actually bother to back these assertions up, they'll pull out a few rare examples of it "corrupting" people, that when you examine carefully, usually turn out to be exaggerated anyway (or the lowlifes in question were pretty messed up to begin with). And people listen; not everyone, not even a majority, but enough to cause a stir. Often, this causes bannings, panicky newspaper articles
, and Very Special Episodes
about the subject.
Usually, within a few years, the fever has died down, and there's only vague echoes of "oh, yeah, that's Satanic" left in the communal memory. Some subcommunities forget faster than others, of course...
Note that cultures confronting actual social problems or actual external enemies will tend to skip an iteration of the cycle.
Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000
is another expression of this. New Media Are Evil
is related, as is Nostalgia Filter
, Everyone Is Satan in Hell
, and Rock Me, Asmodeus!
. Compare Banned in China
. The appearance of The Moral Substitute
is a possible result of this trope. Subtrope of both Public Medium Ignorance
and the Spotlight Fallacy
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- On Sept. 18, 2007, a teenage girl in Kyoto hacked her father's head in half with an axe. The event made a huge impact in the Japanese media, where it was linked to an event in the first season of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni where a teenage girl cleaves a man's head in half (to defend her father). Despite the episode in question having aired over a year ago, the next scheduled episode of the second season was canceled, as was the final episode of School Days. That the girl had said in an earlier interview that she wanted to be a mangaka didn't help.
- The Japanese media attitude towards anime and manga goes much longer back. Around the late '80s, a serial child killer was found out to have several Lolicon manga in his home, and the media jumped the illogical conclusion that the killer had been guided by these stories and could no longer tell the real world from fiction, and pushed out lovely headlines like "There is an army of 10,000 killers raised by manga in our country". The Otaku lifestyle was also called anti-social, ironic, considering that the annual (and soon thereafter, bi-annual) Comiket was one of the largest public gatherings in Japan.
- Death Note has earned some media attention, with various public figures overreacting to people creating replicas of the titular note. To be fair, this is partially justified, as someone bringing their hit-list to school probably should raise a few eyebrows. And, well... if the teachers at Light's school had raised a fuss over a student bringing in a Death Note, it would've saved the SPK plenty of trouble finding him.
- Pick any headline about some ten-year-old that got hentai out from the library. Remember... unless specifically instructed not to by the parent of an underage patron, librarians loan out anything in the library (except reference books) to any patron, no questions asked. They can think whatever they like about it, but a patron can borrow whatever they want. It's policy.
- An episode of The Good Wife featured a sleazy murderer who had manga-style artwork in his house, which he even referred to as manga to make sure we got it. And then he gave one of them to the main character as thanks for helping him beat the rap. This was all gratuitously and embarrassingly irrelevant to the episode's story, and was clearly thrown in just because the writer thought this is what manga fans are like.
- Anime in Chile met a lot of controversies during it's peak in popularity, specially with the most popular series. Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya were accused of promoting violence, Ranma ˝ was said to be too sexualized for minors, and Pokémon was blamed of creating obsessive fanaticism (Without mentioning that some Moral Guardians "found" evidence of it having diabolical messages. To fix this, a new rating system was designed, with children series rated in three gripus, "I" for everyone, "I 7" for kids seven and older, "I 12" for kids over 12, and "A" for adults only (Anime films like AKIRA got this) However that didn't work much since all those shows were broadcasted at the same time (After school) and parents didn't do the work of checking what rating had the anime their children were watching, so it fell out of use quickly. Most anime that hit public TV nowadays tend to be very child-friendly series, as otakus looking for more serious shows download them from the internet or buy them at specialized stores.
- A Clockwork Orange caused a lot of controversy during the early 1970s. Especially when copycat crimes occured inspired by the rape and violence in the film. In Great Britain Mary Whitehouse lead a campaign to ban the movie and actually succeeded. Stanley Kubrick was so frightened of being attacked himself that he withdrew the film from circulation in the entire United Kingdom until his death in 1999. This, of course, lead to its near mythical status in England.
- Monty Pythons Life Of Brian caused an international outcry for being a blasphemous satire of Jesus and Christianity. In many countries it was banned. In the United States several religious groups protested against it.
- It's one that flares up every so often, but in the 1980s and 1990s especially there was a lot of moral panic and outcry over violent horror movies and Video Nasties and their corruptible effects on the young and impressionable. Naturally, the attempts to prevent these movies from reaching the innocent eyes and minds of these viewers (including banning them in several cases) just made people want to see them more.
- Little Sweetheart, which came out in 1989, features a character with this mindset towards rock n' roll. It's uncertain if we're supposed to agree with her, as she's a bitch about it and switches over to a televangelist (and remember, it was made by a UK team), but at the same time, the rock fan is an amoral, psychotic, backstabbing, blackmailing sociopathic 9-year-old girl.
- The protagonist Jeff of Direct-to-Video movie Rock: It's Your Decision is asked to give up listening to rock for a week and comes to decide that it really is evil, starting a series of lectures about it. Brad Jones was surprised an anti-rock movie was made as late as 1982, and had a go at the movie's various interpretations on DVD-R Hell.
Jeff: "Sympathy for the Devil"...
Brad: A song about the atrocities of man.
Brad: It's about death, not the devil.
Brad: "Dance with the Dragon"? I think you're confusing Satanism with the Chinese year of the dragon.
: "Evil Ways" and "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana
And listen to these by the rock group AC/DC
. "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation", "Let There Be Rock", "Highway to Hell", and this is my favorite right here: "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be".
Brad: Uh-huh. First of all, metaphor, but also, it's a song about how a woman causes a shallow man everlasting torment.
Jeff: Captain & Tennille have even tried to change their images with songs like "You Need a Woman Tonight" .
- When the movie The Warriors came out, there were a number of published incidents involving gang members fighting and that movies that "glorify" gangs shouldn't be made. Well, duh, when you make a movie about gangs, it's probably likely to attract members of gangs, and some might be from gangs outside the area where the theatre is located.
- Some of those accusations weren't without merit, though. The movie did ludicrously romanticize street gangs, turning them into various combinations of the Noble Savage and Loveable Rogue archetypes. Even the theme song, "Last of an Ancient Breed," suggests that gang life is a proud calling and something to which young people should aspire.
- Mildly parodied in Super 8 when the Sheriff makes a passing mention to the store clerk (who's listening to a Walkman), that the Walkman is "a slippery slope of juvenile distraction".
- The infamous film Reefer Madness depicted young users becoming violently crazed after smoking marijuana—in 1936, around the time it was first banned federally in the U.S. It was used by a number of jazz musicians in the 20s and 30s and became a hip thing at the time, something Moral Guardians (and William Randolph Hearst with his pulp-mill interests) did not like.
Live Action TV
- When Sesame Street (Yes, THAT Sesame Street) premiered in the 1970s, some PBS stations in the South wouldn't air it because it showed children of different races playing together. Then there were protests against showing Sesame Street in German TV, "because there were no poor children in Germany, who would play on dirty streets."
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers got many complaints from parents for being too violent for children. Despite the fact that the characters just jumped around and were hitting air most of the time. They didn't even use weapons!
- The New Pornographers may be a partial Trope Namer as their name is likely a reference to televangelist Jimmy Swaggart's infamous declaration that "rock n' roll is the new pornography."
- Although this trope is named for rock 'n' roll, the trend itself dates almost as far back as recorded history. Texts complaining that new music was corrupting the younguns have been found dating back to Babylonian times.
- Older Than Print: In the 12th century, the Church denied all sacraments, including last rites, to all minstrels and street performers, effectively damning them all to Hell. The reason? Supposedly, what they did was unproductive and seduced people away from a "proper" Christian life. During the Middle Ages musicians were seen as corruptors of youth who presumably learned their skills in Hell. An interesting detail of Hieronymus Bosch's painting "Garden Of Earthly Delights" shows musicians in Hell hung on gigantic instruments.
- The Hardanger Fiddle in Norway. Lots of fiddle tunes are attributed to the devil, and the idea of the fiddle music leading to fights and moral corruption spread during the mid 1800s. A certain psychotic woman and preacher was particularly vicious, and scared a lot of fiddlers from playing. The result was that a lot of instruments were burned or buried. The tunes survived because a flute or a cither was less sinful.
- The Tritone, a.k.a. Diabolus in Musica. Play Do, Re, Me, then an extra half-tone above Fa, that is, three whole tones above the root, hence the name. In the Middle Ages, it was banned (depending on who you ask) from church music/entirely because it sounds dissonant/SUMMONS THE DEVIL! Ties into other music entries as you can find it incidentally in a lot of Blues music, and extensively, and deliberately, in early Black Sabbath. It's that ominous "dun... Dun!" you hear a lot.
- The waltz was considered scandalous when it was first invented, because it was made for two people (usually a man and a woman) to dance together. They don't actually dance too closely or anything, but back in the 17th or 18th century, it was considered the equivalent of grinding.
- An article written at the time satirized the panic;
We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last . . . it is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion. ... We know not how it has happened (probably by the recommendation of some worthless and ignorant French dancing-master) that so indecent a dance has now been exhibited at the English court ... we trust it will never again be tolerated in any moral English society.
The Times, July 1816 editorial
- The first couple dances evolved during The Renaissance. The Volta was considered the most obscene, since it had the couple dancing around in a tight embrace. The king of France outlawed it in 1610 (but that doesn`t mean people stopped dancing it. It just evolved further, among other things into - the waltz).
- With all the furor subjected at Heavy Metal for being "devil music," one might forget that in the 1920s and 1930s the term was applied almost exclusively to Jazz and Blues, which, unlike its staid reputation today, was thought to inspire animalistic carnal lust and violent behavior in otherwise upstanding young boys and girls, as well as the racist perception that it was "negro music". The music was played en danced to in sleazy bars, night clubs and brothels, which also explains its morally corrupted reputation back then. Even in the Afro-American community itself chuchgoers felt that jazz and blues were a tool of the Devil. Thus spreading the legend that these singers, like Robert Johnson, went to the crossroads to sell their soul in exchange for musical talent.
- Reactions were even more extreme for ragtime, about which one historian wrote "not even Elvis Presley rolling his hips had as many parents and preachers up and howling and sending for the exorcism unit as ragtime did. After all, not too many kids have hips like Elvis's, but anyone who could play "Chopsticks" or whistle "The Star-Spangled Banner" could syncopate (everybody owned pianos back then).
- Ragtime was notably described by a 1913 New York Herald article as "symbolic of the primitive morality and perceptible moral limitations of the Negro type", which recommended "extreme measures" to prevent it from becoming popular with white audiences.
- Many contemporary Christian fundamentalists still cite the Blues as the origin of Satanic music.
- Trope Namer rock 'n' roll itself caused a moral panic when it originated in The Fifties. Many parents were scared by this aggressively loud music that seemed to inspire teenage delinquence and glorified rebellion and sexual innuendo. Elvis Presley was everything they feared: a handsome young man shaking his hips in suggestive poses, causing teenagers to scream in excitement. Authorities were afraid that this obnoxious noise would sent their youth straight to Hell!
- The Beatles caused moral outcry with some adults simply because they wore long hair. However their controversy was quickly surpassed by The Rolling Stones who had a "bad boys" image. Wherever they played riots broke out. They were constantly in the news causing scandals with their openly use of drugs and sex. The band itself played it up with singles like "Sympathy For The Devil" that seemed to confirm that they were agents of Satan himself. The Who also caused shock for smashing their instruments on stage.
- The hippie movement was criticized by many parents for being nothing more than a bunch of filthy, longhaired left wing lazybones that refused to work and wash themselves and indulged in sex, drugs and anti-war protests.
- Glamrock during the early 1970s caused moral outcry for promoting androgynous glorification of bisexuality, homosexuality and transvestites.
- Punk Rock has a funny cyclic pattern to it. First, the original '77 punk (The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash et al.) were seen as promoting crime, drug use, anarchy, profanity and all other things that scare the old people. Sex Pistols were so controversial that their hit single "God Save The Queen" caused moral outcry, death threats and Johnny Rotten being beaten up and slashed with a knife in the streets. The BBC denied that the song was number one on the charts and the band was even shadowed by the British intelligence service under the suspicion that they might be a Soviet plot. The reason that most people were frightened of punks had to with their appearance. Out of all the youth movements associated with rock music they looked the most degenerate, filthy, diabolical and dangerously aggressive. The "pogo" dance was aggressive too and their nihilistic attitude and use of shocking imagery (swastikas, gay pornographic art, images of Karl Marx) also outraged older generations. When people started noticing the social message in the music, it became more acceptable. This led to the creation of Hardcore Punk, the Darker and Edgier version, as it were, which shocked people for a good decade. In The Nineties, the new moral panic came from two sources: first, the punk scene's association with radical environmentalist and animal rights groups, and second (and quite confusingly), the Straight Edge subculture (whose followers are devoted to a lifestyle of not using alcohol, tobacco or drugs — celibacy and veganism optional), which was considered a gang activity.
- Part of the problem with the Straight Edge movement's image has been the militancy of many of its adherents, which have led to violent confrontations at times (usually as part of an animal rights or environmentalist agenda). There's also the unfortunate association with various small, but highly vocal, sXe splinter movements which have gone far beyond the original mildly conservative values into far-right politics, violent homophobia, and in a few cases, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. This has, on occasion, led to violent confrontations with militant anti-racist sXe groups.
- The "backmasking" controversy in the late '70s and '80s, when fundamentalist Christian groups began to claim that backwards messages in music could subliminally influence listeners, and that rock musicians were doing this to draw their fans towards Satanism. Many heavy metal groups, especially Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were targeted. Others condemned rock 'n roll on the basis that the term itself is a depiction of sex; in fact, it refers to the steady beat. During the 90's, however, rock became considerably less controversial (due in no small part to the rise of hip hop and pop music becoming more flamboyant), with the last truly "controversial" rock band being Marilyn Manson. Today, barring a couple esoteric conservative sects, rock-related controversy is almost non-existent.
- Starting in the early '90s, rap and hip-hop music became an interesting case in that they were being attacked by Moral Guardians on both sides of the spectrum. Conservatives were concerned about the glorification of violence, gangs, drugs and black militancy, and liberals were concerned with the misogyny and homophobia.
- Most of the criticisms of the hip-hop/rap genre is more cultural than, say, generational.
- It's also worth noting that a lot of criticism of rap/hip-hop has racial undertones to it, in the case of conservative commentators.
- The song "Ya Got Trouble" ("Trouble my friends, I say trouble right here in River city...") from The Music Man is a knowing parody of this trope, with a con man decrying everything that was new circa 1912 (pool tables, ragtime music, pinchback suits, Horserace Gamblin', modern slang "Words like 'swell', and 'So's your old man'", and a whole host of other things) in order to create an artificial crisis that he can solve "... with a wave of my hand, this very hand."
- The Finnish metal band Lordi has occasionally been accused of encouraging Satanism or other unsavory things. While their general appearance and stage demeanor◊ is slightly demonic, more than one of the band members are Christian and have actually put God among their personal acknowledgements on the back of the CD. Song titles like "Hard Rock Hallelujah" and "Devil Is a Loser" is not the kind of thing your average Satanist puts out.
- Just to make it even stupider, the song "Devil Is a Loser" was used as proof that they were Satanists. It's not exactly clear how a song about how selling your soul to the Devil is an easy way out for the weak that carries strong consequences even beyond losing your soul can be pro-Satan.
- Similarly, "The Pusher" by Steppenwolf, a strongly worded anti-drug song, is often cited as encouraging drug use. Now we're headed into "Born in the U.S.A." territory.
- Moral Guardians tried to prevent The Prodigy from performing their hit "Firestarter" on Top of the Pops, which the techno band recognizes as their "most punk moment".
- The moral panic surrounding raves and the drug use admittedly common in the scene.
- Because one of the most popular genres of music at early raves was called Acid House (it actually describes the "acidic" sound of the TB-303 synth bass), Moral Guardians assumed that the kids there were all on LSD. The actual amount and type of drug use varies by rave and by raver (many are even Straight Edge), but MDMA has the strongest association with raving, distantly followed by Ketamine, Nitrous Oxide, and good old-fashioned Weed.
- Records by the Mills Brothers were tossed on bonfires in the 1980s.
- Parodied quite a bit along with Christian Rock by Devo's opening band "Dove, the Band of Love," which was Devo in different costumes. It's best summed by the intro to Dove's cover of "Gotta Serve Somebody" on Recombo DNA, with Devo's mutant mascot brainwashed into being Dove's lead singer: "We used to do devil music like that band Devo, but then Jerry over here sat down on a Bobby Dylan record, and the Lord came into him! Now we do music of love!"
- "Rick Santorum Declares War On Heavy Metal." Admittedly, this is a parody based on Santorum's "War on Porn", but, man, few would be surprised if it was the next step. (And, since a surprisingly large number of heavy metal musicians and fans are politically conservative, or at least anti-liberal, it would have been very ironic indeed.)
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has an exhibit showing news reports and congressional hearings calling for censorship or banning of rock and roll. Some of them are strikingly similar to arguments being used today to try to censor/ban stuff, such as promoting violence and promiscuity, or corrupting youth.
- The trope becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy any time a rock, metal or other "heavy" song even so much as has the WORD "devil" or "Satan" in it; including instances where Satan is in fact the villain, where the minions of hell are punishing evildoers, or the devil/hell are being used as metaphors (often for drugs or abusive relationships). A crowning glory was a treatise dedicated to showing "the hideous birth of heavy metal and its forcing the devil's will into our lives", whose entire premise stemmed from the line "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings! Oh lord, yeah!" That would be the final line of War Pigs, by Black Sabbath, and is speaking of Satan laughing as all the evil war-mongers who led the world to destruction just to line their pockets are damned to hell by God and the angels on Judgement Day. Apparently the book of Revelation is a glorification of Satan!
- The Internet catches a lot of this; whether it's porn sites or pedophiles trolling chat rooms and MySpace, the media are constantly trying to find new things to scare people about being online. This also extends to anything that can access the Internet. Big overlap with New Media Are Evil, here. Another infamous newscast dealt with the Nintendo 3DS, and how child molesters were allegedly using its PictoChat function to contact kids. Never mind that hardly anyone ever uses PictoChat, and that the function's range was considerably less than what the newscast said...
- There was a story where they said that Leet Lingo is a language designed to hide secrets from parents, and they actually have a translator for leet speak despite the fact that the numbers in leet are supposed to look like the original letters. Leet did originate, at least in part, as a way to hide email from keyword-based filtering/eavesdropping software, so it's not entirely wrong, just blown way out of proportion.
- It, of course, does not help that there's plenty of places on the Internet that practically revel in this behavior (Something Awful, /b/, Encyclopedia Dramatica, any given Shock Site) because they think it's funny to act like how every Moral Guardian thinks the Internet behaves. The subtlety is inevitably lost on said Moral Guardians.
- The Daily Mail seemed to be fixated on the internet during 2012, with porn sites, Facebook, Twitter and general bad behavior (trolls) on the internet featuring in headlines. The so called 'side bar of shame,'images of dead bodies and articles of a particularly adult nature on the Mail's own website caused some to call them hypocrites.
- Subverted to hell and back in early 2009 with Twitter, the bandwagon that every traditional media outlet seems desperate to jump onto. Until they got bored with it and/or remembered the media's proper role in society is to make everyone paranoid. FACEBOOK AND TWITTER WILL DESTROY YOUR LIFE.
- Before he was forced to resign, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shut down the whole country's Internet, in order to quell street protests against his rule. It backfired on him.
- In Britain, there are proposals to impose blackouts on social media, after it was heavily used in the 2011 London riots.
- Several U.S. communities have attempted to pass legislation against using social media to organize flash mobs, not seeming to understand the whole "freedom of assembly" clause in the Constitution.
- On the one hand, the right enshrined in the Constitution is specifically the right to peacefully assemble, which disqualifies anything you'd care to call a "riot". On the other hand, this suggests the smart move would be to "infiltrate" the would-be mob during the planning stages, learn the times, and greet them with riot cops when they get there. (It's illegal to arrest the participants before they start anything — unless you have evidence of conspiracy charges — but it's not illegal to be sitting there waiting.) On the gripping hand, there's evidence to suggest that in the past, the FBI infiltrated certain organizations, such as CORE (responsible for the antisegregation Freedom Rides)... and tried to incite them to mayhem so they could be arrested and tried.
- It should be noted, however, that flash mobs, despite having the word "mob" in the name, are completely harmless; they're just fun ways to do unusual things on a large scale and weird out bystanders. I mean, come on, The Other Wiki has a separate page for pillow fight flash mobs. Attempting to ban them would, indeed, be an infringement of the right to peaceably assemble.
- That depends on the flash mob. In Philadelphia, for example, flash mobs have a history of either starting out or becoming violent and destructive.
- In terms of new media technology, there's some overlap with this and They Changed It, Now It Sucks. If the new media has some drawbacks that the old didn't have for instance (you can't tape on DVDs very easily, making them more difficult for recording without a DVR or something). For that matter, DVR is useless as a replacement for VCR anyway, if you can't afford cable.
- With the rise in popularity of 3D printers, it was only a matter of time before someone made a 3D-printed gun. The online group "Defense Distributed" hosts CAD files for a fully functional plastic gun as well as lower receivers and mags for AR-15 rifles (the lower receiver being the part of the rifle that is legally regulated and serial numbered, and in some American states mags are regulated). Despite improvised firearms having existed since the 1900s (and at much cheaper up-front costs), and that a superior metal AR-15 lower receiver can legally and easily be milled from an 80% finished "paperweight," DIY guns went largely unnoticed by the media and politicians until it became associated with the rapidly growing world of 3D printing. Add a public who is all too easily sent into a panic over guns, and suddenly you have a wonderful new headline to remind everyone that they should be scared of new technology and that New Media Are Evil.
- Patricia Pulling's organization "Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (B.A.D.D.)" claimed that D&D was "a fantasy role-playing game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings." She blamed the game for her son's suicide, even suing TSR for wrongful death (she lost). Most of Pulling's arguments were demolished in 1990 by Michael Stackpole, in "The Pulling Report."
- The book Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe, and its later Made-for-TV Movie starring Tom Hanks, both accuse tabletop RPGs, such as Dungeons & Dragons, of encouraging occultism and Satanism, and even allege that players get so caught up in the game that they can't tell fantasy from reality. Ironically, the purely fictional book was cited as a "case study" by several rabidly anti-D&D groups, so one must ask which side actually has this problem. This is a case of I Lied. "Mazes and Monsters" was based on a missing persons case, which was actually only the official version of the story anyway, since the detective involved was trying not to alert the actual people so he could continue his investigation. The media released this assertion as fact. Strangely enough the movie makes it clear that the game itself was not responsible, it was just what he happened to be doing when he snapped. The other players are well-balanced with active social lives (although one does invent larping as an alternative to suicide).
- One of the most infamous and parodied Chick Tracts, "Dark Dungeons", targeted D&D. Whether it actually converted any D&D players is highly doubtful, though it may have made them laugh uproariously at the constantly absurd claims it makes.
- In an attempt to pass under the radar, Dungeons & Dragons took out all references to demons, devils, Hell, and anything else even vaguely related to That Place Down There from 2nd Edition. These were restored in 3rd Edition, which came out at least a decade later... by which point nobody except Jack Chick really cared enough to be offended any longer (and even he seems to have lost some interest, because Dark Dungeons is no longer published unless someone explicitly puts in an order).
- Magic: The Gathering decided to nip this problem in the bud by turning all Demons into Beasts for a few years. This is referenced in Infernal Spawn of Evil which has demon crossed out in its typeline and Beast written in in marker.
- There was also a brief spate of this in The Nineties when a guy who played Vampire: The Masquerade maybe a bit too much got together with his friends, killed his folks, then drank their blood. There's a reason every White Wolf book since then opens with a disclaimer reading, "You are not a supernatural creature, and if you think you are, then for the love of God, seek professional help."
- In an attempt to avoid such allegations, Rifts and other Palladium Games all come with disclaimers like the White Wolf books, though not as tongue-in-cheek. It's usually something along the lines of "This book contains depictions of magic, evil, and the supernatural, which some parents may find inappropriate for younger readers. Palladium does not condone nor encourage drugs, violence, or demon worship." They even request that anyone running a Rifts website also puts up a disclaimer.
- In Elizabethan England, there was a movement to ban tragedies on stage, for fear that all the weeping would corrupt British masculinity. That's right, Hamlet will make you gay.
- Theater in general was often the target of preachers in early modern Europe. The preachers claimed that theaters promoted immorality. Theaters were forcefully closed more then once. For example, when Oliver Cromwell and his puritanical supporter took power in England mid 17th century, all theaters in London were closed down. The same thing happened in the Netherlands in 1672; when the country was attacked by France, England and two German states, preachers succesfully blamed the cause of the war on God's displeasure, which was in turn caused by the theaters.
- An in-universe example in The Music Man using pool as an example.
- Even before Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000, video games were subjected to this. In the arcade days, they were blamed for wasting money and providing a place for unsupervised minors to hang out; with the early consoles came accusations of laziness, eyestrain, and illiteracy. Which is rather amusing, considering that some studies have shown that video games may actually improve reaction time and signal detection.
- In fact, Britain's National Air Traffic Service recommends that prospective air-traffic controllers play video games for precisely that reason.
- In late January 2008 there was an uproar over a lesbian sex scene in the game Mass Effect. Cybercast News Service blogger Kevin McCullough claimed that Mass Effect had a full frontal sex scene which took place with the player character volunteering information on how to make the act proceed. Yeah. This article would have fallen into the abyss of stupid blog articles never to be mentioned again — except that Fox News, for reasons unknown, took everything the article said at face value and actually ran a story on the whole affair in cable prime time.
- One of Fox's guest commentators, Cooper Lawrence, made the mistake of doing this while having a new book released. She showed the world what a genius she is by shrieking that she had never played the game but knew it was exposing children to a virtual sex simulator. Gamers showed her why that was a mistake by sending the book's Amazon.com rating screaming into the pits of damnation. In less than a week, Lawrence issued an apology and admitted that she was relying solely on rumor. Even noted frothingly anti-video game fruitcake Jack Thompson called Lawrence's comments uninformed, and the controversy thus raised "contrived". All of this managed to actually improve the game's popularity, proving that there really is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.
- Some of the reviews on Lawrence's book were genuine reviews, too, from people who had read the book and still gave it one star. Not only had Fox chosen an "expert" who did no research, they chose an expert who wasn't even one.
- The whole debacle is especially amusing when you play the game knowing it happened - the potential lesbian partner (an alien) mentions that there are many misconceptions and bizarre rumors about her species's sexuality, but people tend to obsess over it regardless. It's almost like they knew it would happen (admittedly, it wouldn't be hard to predict).
- When reports of the Virginia Tech massacre surfaced, media pundits were extremely quick to lay the blame on the game Counter-Strike, due to an offhand comment by a classmate who barely knew Seung-Hui Cho (the shooter). When later reports showed that Cho was an unmedicated schizophrenic who hadn't played anything more violent than Sonic the Hedgehog, those earlier reports were quietly swept under the rug.
- Before that, of course, the Columbine massacre was blamed on Doom, as both of the killers were fans of that game. One of the killers, Eric Harris, said that the shooting would be "like ***ing Doom," and said that his shotgun was "straight out of Doom." When it came out that Harris had created some mods for Doom, there were allegations that some of the "Harris levels" were models of Columbine High School, with the demons replaced with teachers and students, and that Harris had used them to practice for the shooting. It turned out that they were just ordinary levels, and they are available on the Internet for anybody to find out — the most elaborate level can be viewed here, third down the list, complete with commentary on the scrutiny that video games came under after the massacre.
This outcry was mocked by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine... in the very title of the film. Klebold and Harris were also avid bowlers, so couldn't bowling be as much to blame as video games?
- There is also ''Super Columbine Massacre RPG, which was decried as a glorification of the massacre itself and violence in general. Since the game is actually doing the opposite of that, it's safe to assume the people accusing it of this never played it.
- A similar, even more clueless version showed up in a few news reports soon after the Newtown school shooting in 2012. They tried to blame the massacre on the murderer's love of Starcraft, a top-down strategy game, and Dance Dance Revolution of all things.
- Pokémon, prompting at least one Christian fundamentalist to say that other Christian fundamentalists were decrying Pokémon for the wrong reasons. See article here.
- Animal Crossing has also had its share of critics, who say that no adult would be playing a cute social game because they actually enjoy it. It's even more ironic, since the character pointed out in the video clip as the "potential pedophile" is Mayor Tortimer — an NPC.
- Parodied in Kagetsu Tohya when Akiha calls manga the work of the devil and a corruption of innocent teens etc. after Hisui reads one and apparently goes berserk. But apparently it's an ordinary girl's romance story. Which did, in fact, cause her to go berserk. What were we talking about again?
- Mortal Kombat is perhaps the ultimate example. While its violence looks quite cartoonish today, no game up to that point (1993, to be precise) had featured quite so much blood and gore (except perhaps for Wolfenstein, and that was nowhere near as realistic-looking as Mortal Kombat). What's worse, grade-school kids were playing it, which was alarming since, had the game been a movie, it probably would have received a PG-13 rating at the very least. One could theorize that future editions of the game getting Lighter and Softer were either a concession to this outcry or an ironic mockery of it. ("You want wholesome? We'll give you wholesome!")
- Fittingly, the ESRB rating system was created as a result of Mortal Kombat's media attention. It was only a few years prior to its release that video games were considered a kid's hobby; before that, the target audience was whoever had money to spend on them. Basically, what the trend is becoming today.
- A rather shocking aversion of this is the Shin Megami Tensei series. Despite its blatant use of God Is Evil and demon summoning, the games have attracted very little if any controversy.
- This is probably because the series is almost unheard of in the West, even among gamers. As for Japan (where it is one of the most popular franchises, right alongside Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest), they are much more laid-back, religiously speaking.
- Head Trip had a snide "public warning" review on consequences of video games. Hear about a victim of Super Mario Bros. who got a lifelong habit of trying to explore pipes. Tragic!
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie chose to step backward a little and look at the bigger picture.
Dixie: Popular games can have a profound influence over a child who grows up playing them...
Phil: ...the direct correlation between "Parcheesi" and the President's current economic policies is one of the more obvious examples.
- Girl Genius had a case of Old Rock'n'Roll.
Know what I blame? I blame that new dance music—
- Weirdly, they appear to be referring to polka.
- Deconstructed HARD in Goblin Hollow when Penny calls out the new priest for using sob stories about kids who were 'corrupted' and snapped to fund his (non-religious) organization and control the local area. At first it looks like she's just ranting, but then she explains in sorrid detail (with real-life statistics) how teenagers have learned self control (compared to the priest's generation) and how the system tortures these kids, waits for one to snap, and uses the violent outburst as an excuse to tighten the system even MORE. And then we learn that a different priest did this and ended up indirectly causing a friend of Penny's to commit suicide, and he got to reap the benefits by blaming rock music.
- Believe it or not, but in the 1970s and 1980s some concerned parents were actually trying to get Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes banned and/or censored for the excessive use of violence. In the United States some cartoons have been censored in syndication for showing troubling behaviour that could be imitated by children. Sometimes understandeable (characters committing suicide, yet not being quite dead afterwards), but in some cases they managed to censor every gag where a character is shot, hit or exploded, thus ruining much of the comedy. What made the hysteria especially odd was that these cartoons were already more than 30 years old when organizations started to complain about them. As Chuck Jones said: "Everything above 30 was raised on these cartoons."
- This type of hysteria was predicated in the '80s by outcries against both The Smurfs and The Care Bears.
- With the Smurfs, it at least somewhat made sense, since there were urban legends circulating that the Smurfs were either Hindu deities (because they had blue skin) or Communists (because their leader, Papa Smurf, looked like Karl Marx).
- Certain people also bitched about the Smurfs promoting the Occult; to be fair, this IS what their Christmas Special looked like.
- Rainbow Brite is occult propaganda — look at her, she has a star (pentagram!) on her cheek and a rainbow (stolen from Christians, now an occult symbol)! (Go check out the WMG page — this is a theory published in an actual book.)
- The Simpsons: In the early 1990s the show came under attack for supposedly encouraging kids to imitate Bart. That, of course, and all the other subversive stuff, including criticism of the United States, critique of (organized) religion and adult references (smoking, drugs, sex, politics,...) that children should not be exposed to at their young age.
- In 1993 Beavis and Butt-Head took over the Simpsons' crown as the most subversive animated TV show. Especially since this was an actual show not intended for children and broadcast on MTV to a global audience. The controversy especially took off when a child who lit his sibling's bed on fire was linked to an episode of the show. Later it turned out that the child had never watched the show, but nevertheless Beavis and Butt-Head became the new "corruption of youth that had to be stopped now". Ironically enough the series actually became more tame after that. Beavis and Butthead weren't allowed to say "Fire" in syndication and their antics changed from juvenile delinquency to general acts of stupidity.
- From 1997 onward South Park became the new shocking and subversive animated TV series. This time actually living up to its reputation with taboo topics specifically intended for adults and a lot of offensive imagery and quotes that upset both right wingers and left wingers.
- After a school shooting incident in Finland, the largest newspaper of the country published articles concerning the corrupting influence of Plato and Friedrich Nietzsche, as the shooter was an avid reader of philosophical texts. Under the headline "Plato can mess you up."
- Pinball corrupts the youth, doncha know:
- There was a fairly large moral panic regarding pinball in the USA in the earlier part of the twentieth century, when people (mistakenly) believed that it was a game of chance and winning was entirely due to luck. Many cities banned pinball for several decades, until Roger Sharpe demonstrated precise pinball skills in court. Even so, some pinball machines still sport "entertainment use only" warnings to allay nervous communities.
- This isn't quite as nonsensical as it sounds. When gambling was outlawed in most of the US, makers of slot machines and other gambling devices tried every method they could think of to circumvent the ban. The most popular method was via flipper-less pinball machines, which were set so you could win multiple free games. If you didn't want to use the free games, the owner of the bar/parlor/whatever would give you back the cash equivalent.
- Of course, a modified version of the original pinball is still incredibly popular in Japan, where it's given the name pachinko.
- Culinary example: In the 1600s, some French bakers started making a bread called mollet for the peasantry. This being France, riots ensued. Why? Because the bread required little to no work kneading (and didn't need to be cut with an ax) and thusly it encouraged idleness! It also used ingredients from Belgium. If you eat it, you hate the nation! Debates about what French bread was acceptable went on until well after the revolution, when a standardized bread recipe was proposed. Unable to find a compromise that would appease everyone about how wheat vs. rye bread, the new government eventually threw its hands up and told everyone to plant potatoes.
- The fork. No, really. It's decadent! It's a symbol of Satan! If God wanted us to use forks, would we have these wonderful fingers? Hmm?! In fact, the reason chopsticks are commonly used in several Asian countries, is because oh-so-long-ago, Confucius promoted them as a peaceful alternative to knives and forks, which he equated with violence.
- A large chunk of the premise behind parody series Jimmy Macdonald's Canada was watching the character label everything either decadent or dangerous. The show even featured a segment called Outrage of the Week, where "I show you three things, and then I tell you which one outrages me the most!" Winners included robots, Air Canada stewardess uniforms, Swedish drill teams, hamburger speed-eating, zambonis, and psychedelic body painting. Other things that he hated included ATMs, push-button phones, vending machines, Italian food, dancing shoes, American Bandstand-type programs, honeymoons, and children wearing protective equipment while playing hockey. Oh, and rock and roll.
- "That capital T that rhymes with P that stands for Pool" in The Music Man, and all the other dangers that Professor Harold Hill calls out: beer, pinchback suits, galloping in horse races ("Not a wholesome trottin' race, no, but a race where they sit up right on the horse!"), smoking, ragtime music, knickerbockers rebuckled below the knee, dime novels, Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, and words like "swell" and "so's your old man". This one works especially well because a modern audience might not even know what half of this stuff is, which just emphasizes the ridiculousness of the hysteria. Harold Hill could go after the evils of pool because a pool table was being placed in a billiards parlor. Billiards was okay! (For anyone curious, billiards is somewhat like pool, but it has no pockets.) Let's not forget though... pockets make the difference between a Gentleman and a Bum! That's Bum with a capital B that rhymes with P that stands for POOL!
- In addition, one of the evils that Hill rails against is Bevo a (now long defunct) product of Anheuser-Busch which was a non-alcoholic Near-Beer, further highlighting the ridiculous nature of the hysteria.
- Any "people trend," in chronological order: Flappers, Swingers, Teddy Boys, Beatniks, Greasers, Hippies, Mods, Punks, Goths, Gangstas, Emos, Hipsters. In general, any subculture that focuses on disaffected youth will likely draw the scorn of the Moral Guardians. Sure, we've all seen it for hippies, punks, and goths, but as Mystery Science Theater 3000 proves, there were actually movies about the moral scourge posed by... beatniks.
- A central tenet of the beat movement was chemical experimentation, and they introduced or popularized essentially every modern "hard" drug except for LSD for recreational rather than practical use. Unprotected sex with many partners was also a big part of the movement, though they didn't give it the catchy "free love" moniker the hippies came up with. In retrospect, the guardians might have had a point for once on that one... though of course, the Beatniksploitation movies didn't really show any of that.
- German politicians wanted to ban paintball since a school shooter happened to like the game. It wasn't until some paintballers were brought into parliament that some of them realised that it wasn't a video game. Nothing about that last bit in the news though. Now that a few years have passed, most people don't even remember that there was another public scare.
- For modern examples, see Mormonism and Scientology, both of which are Acceptable Targets in the USA (or, in the latter case, almost everywhere). LaVeyan Satanism, being as Genre Savvy as it is, goes out of its way to invoke this; Anton LaVey himself admitted that The Satanic Bible is essentially an Objectivist screed under a layer of Crowley-esque mysticism and anti-Christian theatrics.
- In architecture:
- Modern art and architecture initially received this treatment in the West, partially because of its associations with leftist political movements and, in particular, the Soviet Union. Ironically, under Stalin, the same art and architecture was frequently condemned as "decadent" and "bourgeoise".
- Compare, say, the Bauhaus or the International Style to Stalin-era Socialist Classicism. Much like the Nazis and their snazzy uniforms, Stalin knew what he was doing when it came to aesthetics.
- Oddly enough, the Italian Fascists were tentatively accepting of the more right-wing strains of Modernism and Futurism, giving semi-formal blessing to a style known as "Rationalist-Fascist", a form of Modernism which emphasized the Classical and Renaissance roots of the style. It's quite odd to see the "right-wing" Casa del Fascio◊ set against the "left-wing" Moscow State University◊, but it's actually rather telling; fascism, despite its right-wing associations, considered itself a revolutionary movement, while Stalinist socialism was often culturally regressive.
- This is still very much the case whenever a new, avant garde building is finished. The Lloyd's "inside out" Building in London was heavily criticised, being at complete odds with the much older structures like, say, St. Paul's Cathedral. Ironically, there was much more protesting against St. Paul's when that first opened.
- In the 1700s, Marie Camargo, who was one of the first star ballerinas, caused quite a stir when she shortened her skirts a few inches to reveal her ankles. She did it in order to show off her fancy footwork, but the Moral Guardians of the time still pitched a fit.
- Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll and evangelical leader Al Mohler both condemned yoga because of its eastern roots, much to the amusement of the rest of Evangelicalism (and the world).
- According to some people in 18th Century England, rolling a hoop with a stick. Yes, hoop and stick, aka The Hoop Nuisance. One of the most staunch opponents was Charles Babbage, grandfather of the computer, who also hated organ grinders. Imagine what he would think of video games.
- The madness here lies in the fact that hoop trundling has been around since at least Ancient Greece.
- The film Reefer Madness and William Randolph Hearst's crusade to ban cannabis in the 1930s due to its supposedly turning its users into crazed psychopaths (and his financial interests in the wood pulp paper industry, which hemp threatened to compete with).
- While opera in its early days did have the support of Pope Clement IX, who even wrote some librettos (opera scripts) back when he was still Giulio Rospigliosi, several of his successors, along with many others, did their best to suppress public operas, whose oft-unruly theaters they saw as breeding grounds for all sorts of vice.
- By way of contrast, the Puritan government during the English Interregnum outlawed theatre but tolerated (just) musical performances (because at least their performers weren't sex-crazed drunken reprobates). Opera, being classified as music rather than theatre, remained legal.
- In general:
- 1920s - late 1930s: jazz music and blues music, because they were associated with sleazy bars and brothels. To some racist white audiences black music in general was degenerate music. The Nazis banned jazz in the 1930s, for instance.
- late 1950s - early 1960s: Rock and roll, comic books, Playboy magazine and television.
- late 1960s - early 1970s: Anything in any way associated with hippies, especially drugs, counter culture, underground comic strips and the New Age movement. Glam rock was also feared because it celebrated homosexuality and transvestism.
- late 1970s - early 1980s: Punk Rock and anything that could be linked to Satanism, including Heavy Metal music and Dungeons & Dragons. Slasher movies and violent Hollywood action movies were also frowned upon.
- late 1980s - early 1990s: Gangsta Rap, anything that aired on MTV, The Simpsons, Beavis And Butthead, South Park, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, video games (especially the violent ones),
- late 1990s - early 2000s: Violent video games and movies, The Internet, Professional Wrestling, Britney Spears
- Present Day: Social networking sites and, in today's hyper-partisan environment, anything that can be seen as having political undertones ("300 is pro-Iraq War!" "Avatar is socialist!", etc.)
- Monster Energy drink for some who interpret the marketing spiel as being sincere and the logo to stand for 666 in the Hebrew alphabet. Hebrew numbers don't work that way, they are added up. (6-6-6 would be 18.)
TV Tropes is corrupting our youth! America is doomed!