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The New Rock & Roll

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Strangely, Satan seems to misremember that he founded Mötley Crüe in 1981.
"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about Rock n' Roll!"

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 inherently 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 (or flat-out fabricated) 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... And there's always the possibility that parents will revive the moral panics that were popular twenty years ago when they were their kids' age.

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, resulting in the perception video games are Murder Simulators. New Media Are Evil is related, as is Nostalgia Filter, Everyone Is Satan in Hell, Rotten Rock & Roll, and Rock Me, Asmodeus!. Compare Banned in China and Satanic Panic. The appearance of The Moral Substitute is a possible result of this trope. Subtrope of Public Medium Ignorance. Compare and contrast A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll", when it's treated as a curious novelty rather than a dangerous influence.


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    Multiple Media 

    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 Japanese media, where it was linked to an event in the first season of Higurashi: When They Cry 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 to 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.
    • Let's not forget the non-Japanese attitude towards anime. When anime started becoming popular in places like the US, a few people attacked it for being violent and inappropriate (leading to a trope summarizing this misconception). Some people even claimed that children's anime like Pokémon: The Series was the work of Japanese Satanists. This can mostly be based on not doing the research, though. (It doesn't help that the Animation Age Ghetto was definitely prevalent during times like this. Or that recent economic trends had led to more general worries about Japanese dominance of American society.) Much of this notion has slowly waned over time as anime and manga have been normalized into niche western circles, but still can be seen as a questionable activity. Because of the unfortunate implications of terms like "lolicon" and the focus on sexual humor (a taboo subject in many western countries, especially America), not to mention the plethora of anime focused on young adults in high school, perceptions by the public have remained "questionable" at best despite the readily available outlets that now carry translated manga in major bookstores or DVD's and Blu-Ray collections of anime in many video stores. This has led to certain normalized insults such as "weaboo", which are often used as a badge of acceptance between other western anime lovers to denote their acceptance of their hobby, but as a derogatory insult by those outside these circles as an alternative to the term "Japanophile" or "Otaku", both of which are rarely used in a positive light.
  • 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 its peak in popularity, especially with the most popular series. Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya were accused of promoting violence, Ranma ½ was said to be too sexualized for minors, and Pokémon: The Series was blamed for creating obsessive fanaticism (not to mention that some Moral Guardians "found" evidence of it having diabolical messages). To fix this, a new rating system was designed, with children's series given one of three possible ratings: "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 very well, since all those shows were broadcast at the same time (after school) and parents didn't bother to check the rating of 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Psychiatrist Frederic Wertham wrote a book in 1954, luridly titled Seduction Of The Innocent. It blamed comics, especially the crime and horror genres popular at the time, for juvenile delinquency, as well as corrupting sexual themes. He appeared before the Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, which led to veiled threats of censorship; in the end, the industry adopted the self-regulating Comics Code. Ironically, this may have helped the Super Hero genre, since it was easy enough for it to produce simple tales of good versus evil that even the harshest censor would pass.

    While it doesn't excuse Wertham's jerkassery, he was not entirely making it up — comics at the time tended to have stories that would be judged PG-13 even by today's standards. Wonder Woman, for example, had a good bit of BDSM themes that track back to her creator's interests, research, and Word of God. Wertham interviewed young gay men who told him they'd assumed Batman and Robin were gay (a felony in those days). Some of the EC Comics stories were very violent and had horrifying imagery full of Nightmare Fuel. Comics weren't quite as innocent at the time as what survived into subsequent decades. Wertham was definitely playing it up, but the material is stuff even today's parents wouldn't want their younger children reading.
    • What makes the whole Comics Code thing worse is that Wertham really wasn't that bad of a guy. He didn't want the Code to be founded and was against it. He just thought that comics should have a rating system like TV and movies.
    • The American witch hunt against comic strips in the 1940s and 1950s also blew over to Europe. In the Netherlands (otherwise a socially liberal nation at the time) many adults felt that comics would make children too lazy to read an actual book, so many Dutch comic strips from that era were in fact illustrations with novelized texts below them. Text balloons were totally absent.
    • Belgian Comics and Franco-Belgian Comics were allowed to keep their text balloons but were still subject to censorship and distrust from adults (most notably shown when the Union of Families tried to ban it). Many comic strip magazine editors and publishers were conservative Catholics who forced the comic strip artists to keep an educational and moralizing tone at all times. This also led to absurd censorship. For instance, Lucky Luke was no longer allowed to use his revolver, something that's very difficult in a western setting! This environment was, however, not horrible at all times, since it inspired creator Jef Nys to create Jommeke, which is a Cash-Cow Franchise in its native Flanders.
  • Rock and Roll is still sometimes demonized; The mini, Batman: Fortunate Son, has Batman fight against the evils of Rock and Roll and was published in 1999. The main villain of the comic is an insane and evil version of Kurt Cobain who is driven to madness by the ghost of Elvis Presley. Also, Batman hates rock music after witnessing a rocker kill his girlfriend.
    Batman: Punk (music) is nothing but death and crime and the rage of a beast!
    • Not to mention the fact that — of course — he'd been listening to rock music on the radio on the day his parents were murdered and his father made him switch it off, which naturally made him associate it with and blame it for the death of his parents. One gets the feeling that Bruce Wayne couldn't do anything on that fateful day without somehow retroactively linking it to the death of his parents. Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize that if Bruce had simply insisted on continuing to listen to his radio his parents would've stayed home with him and they wouldn't have died in the first place.
  • Inverted in an issue of Cthulhu Tales, which reveals that the development of rock music and its later subgenres and expansion into more experimental forms of music are in fact what's keeping humanity from being driven mad and held in thrall to an Eldritch Abomination.
  • The comic book series Dukobu has an in-universe comic book series called Rik Spoutnik, a sci-fi series, which is loved by pretty much anyone in the school (except maybe Leonie Gratin), but still gets routinely confiscated by teachers nonetheless. Ironically, one gag involved an inspector watching Dukobu read the comic in the class, who instead of saying how horrifying it was insisted that this kid was a good example for the rest of the class, who should read it because it contains more complex vocabulary than your average novel. In one shot, the professor that routinely confiscates it is seen reading it, together with a speech bubble filling 90% of the screen with text. One would like to know if the author is referencing something.
  • The page image is from "Angels?", a Chick Tract where a Christian Rock group hooks up with an agent named Lew Siffer, who explains to them how he developed rock as a way to foment decadence among young people. Jack Chick previously explored the topic in an issue of his full-color comic The Crusaders, with some extremely bizarre claims: rock is based on ancient Druid beatsnote  and melodies used to summon demons (with The Beatles as the ones who exported them into the mainstream), and before they're released, all rock albums get blessed by naked witches at a ceremony, where they summon one of Satan's chief demons. He places a curse on the music that leads all listeners to get possessed by evil spirits. Yes, really.
  • Several heroes in Astro City most recently Glamorax, are the Anthropomorphic Personification of this; they are the physical embodiment of counter-culture music, "whatever's new, and moving young people to feel, to move, to act".

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, this is exaggerated InUniverse with Ming, who thinks that 4*Town are "glittery delinquents", abhors their "gyrations" and calls their discography not music but "filth". She even goes so far as to completely ruin their concert in her hundred foot panda form.
    • Turning Red itself was a victim of this overall by various parent groups. The belief in these groups was that the movie's message was "Defy your parents to get what you want". While it is true Mei does do things her mother, Ming, disapproves of despite Ming's insistence against them, the movie is much moreso about the generational trauma Ming inherited from her mother and passed down to her child, causing her to act like a helicopter parent who actively causes problems for her daughter, and the fact that Ming is unwilling to accept that Mei has interests of her own and should be given some level of independence. Apparently missing the point completely, these parent groups warned other parents that the movie was raunchy and had extremely bad morals, and should be skipped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Clockwork Orange caused a lot of controversy during the early 1970s. Especially when copycat crimes occurred inspired by the rape and violence in the film. In Great Britain, Mary Whitehouse led 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, led to its near-mythical status in England.
  • Monty Python's 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, even as she 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.
    Jeff: "Dancing with Mr. D." by The Rolling Stones...
    Brad: It's about death, not the devil.
    Jeff: "Devil's Den" and "Dance with the Dragon" by Jefferson Starship...
    Brad: "Dance with the Dragon"? I think you're confusing Satanism with the Chinese year of the dragon.
    Jeff: "Evil Ways" and "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana.
    Brad: Yes, I can see how you would have misinterpreted the line, "You've got to change your evil ways."
    Jeff: 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".
    Brad: The Captain & Tennille is a sin now, too?! Calling the Captain & Tennille a sin is a sin against the word "sin"!
    • The 1989 Christian documentary Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll stretches out the main thesis of Rock: It's Your Decision to almost three hours. Director/producer/host Eric Holmberg accuses practically every single rock artist in existence of one infraction or another, from using occult imagery to Subliminal Seduction (Satan plants backwards messages into songs) to singing songs about Intercourse with You to simply dying young (implying that untimely rock deaths were probably the result of Satan coming to collect on a Deal with the Devil). But, as with Rock: It's Your Decision, Hell's Bells has really good taste in the very music it's condemning, including picking obscure indie artists who probably got more exposure from the film than they ever did from radio or MTV. Many commenters on YouTube testify that, rather than scare them away from rock, Holmberg introduced them to lots of great music.
  • 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.
  • Footloose is set in a small town where dancing is prohibited and we hear the pastor's sermons against the evils of rock music. Ren (Kevin Bacon's character) is able to work around it by appealing to the town by explaining the historical use of dance to celebrate life.

  • During the first chapters of Don Quixote, we see characters burning chivalry stories, referencing the real-life outcry against people reading them because they tempted away young women and distracted everyone else away from reading The Bible. What makes this scene ironic is that Don Quixote was written decades after the controversy died down, and would be like people in the 21st century upset over Jazz; naturally, Don Quixote is all about someone who's stuck in The Old Ways, and whether that's a good or bad thing. It's a bad thing.
  • Invoked to some extent in Animorphs with the introduction of Sixth Ranger David. It's foreshadowed early and often that he's going to go Sixth Ranger Traitor, and among the many hints given is the revelation that he likes heavy metal bands like Megadeth and reads 90s-era comic books like Spawn as opposed to the more wholesome fare that Jake and Marco subside on. Marco himself even lampshades it.
    Marco: He names his cat Megadeth. He has a cobra named Spawn. What kind of a kid is that?
    • However, in the sentence immediately following that one, Jake claims that David has good taste in comics, suggesting that the protagonists are not above enjoying such works themselves.
  • The Harry Potter books have been accused of getting kids interested in the occult, thanks to an infamous article published by The Onion (a parody news site) that claimed J. K. Rowling was a self-professed devil worshipper who wrote the books to spread her evil religion. Moral Guardians didn't realize it was a parody and started a furor which took years to die down completely.
  • Goethe's 1787 novel Die Leiden des jungen Werther (translated into English as The Sorrows of Young Werther) inspired a trend (termed 'Werther fever') of young men dressing like Werther. Certain Moral Guardians thought readers might copy more than Werther's fashion sense, and blamed the book for inspiring a wave of copycat suicides. It's a bit of a legitimate grudge: The psychological term for it has been dubbed the "Werther effect," where suicides increase after a report in the media. That is why suicides are not reported unless there is a very compelling reason to do so.
  • Kim Newman parodies the moral panic around violent horror movies in the short story "Where The Bodies Are Buried 3"; a series of brutal murders is blamed on the titular horror movie, which prompts a tabloid journalist to spearhead a campaign which eventually leads to horror movies getting banned because of their influence. He later comes to realize that there is indeed a dark, demonic presence at work corrupting people into committing these crimes... but it's got nothing to do with the movie. It's working through the tabloid newspaper and his campaign.
  • The Catcher in the Rye was the most banned novel of the 1950s and 1960s, because it featured a young adult smoking, drinking, cursing, being thrown off campus, and showing no respect for authority. Many parents, schools, libraries, and religious leaders reacted against the book and punished youngsters for owning a copy of it.
  • C. S. Lewis was attacked by some extremist Christians for the Narnia books, which are metaphors of Christianity, for such faults as children drinking wine and swearing.
  • The Station Of The Cross: The Priestly Society of Saint Paul split from the Catholic Church because the Church began to incorporate secular music like that of Bach, gospel singers, and soul artists into the liturgy. The members of the PSSP see these musical genres as being works of the Devil, who uses their tempting rhythms and demonic baselines to seduce children into the evils of dance and sex.
  • Grady Hendrix's We Sold Our Souls is set in or around its year of publication, 2018. Despite this, most of the characters seem to regard metal as sinister, the way it was seen in The '80s.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Forever: An extremely detailed graphic novel about a demon that makes people kill (including a number of famous serial killers throughout history) is assumed by the mother of a teenaged suspect to be the cause of his interest in, and suspected committing of, murders. The actual killer was using it as a how-to guide for mimicking famous killers, but it's made pretty clear that he would have been perfectly happy killing any other way, and the graphic novel was just something he chose for a theme. Hanson zig-zags the trope; he doesn't think the comic causes violent behavior, he just thinks a person would have to already be sick and twisted to want to read it. For good measure, the far-from-psychopathic Lucas is seen still reading Soul Slasher during the closing voiceover.
  • Schmigadoon!: Parodied In-Universe. Bobby can apparently get accused murderers in ther 60s-70s city declared innocent by having them say their minds were corrupted by jazz. It appears to work well enough until Josh goes off-script.
  • 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. In Malaysia, the show was banned because the word "morphin'" sounds like "morphine".
  • A petition went around demanding the cancellation of Good Omens (2019) because a number of Christians claimed it was "another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable" and that it "mocks God's wisdom". Two problems with this: one, at the time it was widely believed that its status as a miniseries meant it wouldn't be picked up for a second season anyways (it eventually was, but that's besides the point). Two, they petitioned Netflix to cancel an Amazon Prime show. The internet had a field day with this one.
    • Among the negative reviews from Christians accusing the show of being blasphemous, at least one negative review has gone in the opposite direction and accused it of encouraging creationism.

  • 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. On a piano, choose your 'Do', and then add the note a half-step (half-tone) up from 'Fa'. It's called a "tritone" because it comprises three whole intervals. Ties into other music entries as you can find it in a lot of Blues music and (deliberately) in early Black Sabbath.
    • Tritones are often used in sirens and train horns since you want those to sound harsh.
    • Play the two notes in a row to get that "dun—DUN!" effect. Throw in the middle note (a half-step down from 'Mi') and play them all at once for the classic Scare Chord.
  • 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 and 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, churchgoers 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 '50s. Many parents were scared by this aggressively loud music that seemed to inspire teenage delinquency 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 send their youth straight to Hell!
  • The Beatles caused moral outcry with some adults simply because they wore long hair (though later they were accused of using hypnosis to lure kids into communism, and then the whole Bigger Than Jesus thing blew up). 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 open 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, long-haired left-wing lazybones that refused to work and wash themselves and indulged in sex, drugs, and anti-war protests. The truth was a good deal more complicated: there were plenty of short-haired, older people who opposed and even protested the war, and longhairs who couldn't have cared less about politics because they were too busy getting high.
  • 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, to the point where clubs would eject patrons for dancing that way. Their nihilistic attitude and use of shocking imagery (swastikas, gay pornographic art, images of Karl Marx, ripped clothes, safety pins) 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 '90s, 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 '90s, 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.
    • Parodied with "Backmasking" by Mindless Self Indulgence, which starts with the lead singer inviting the listener to "play that record backwards"... and then the track reverses itself, and you hear a middle-aged mother saying things like, "Eat all your vegetables" and "Clean your room."
    • Petra, a band which helped pioneer the Christian Rock genre, included the back-masked message "What are you looking for the devil for when you oughta be looking for the Lord?" in their song, "Judas' Kiss".
    • Five Iron Frenzy also takes a swipe at the backmasking kerfuffle in "So Far, So Bad," a song about a hypothetical song which, upon reversed playback, would "tell the kids to stay in school."
    • Linkin Park's song "Announcement Service Public" is comprised of "You should wash your hands and you should brush your teeth" backwards.
    • Larry Norman, known as the "Grandfather of Christian Rock", wrote one of his most well-known songs, "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?", in direct response to the claim that rock 'n' roll was inherently evil.
    • In the mid-1980s, parental and religious groups were so scared of Heavy Metal that a group called the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) managed to get Senate hearings on whether or not record labels should be forced to put warning labels on potentially "dangerous" music. During the hearings musicians like Frank Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snider spoke out against music censorship, and the hearings ended when the major record labels agreed to voluntarily put warning labels on albums with adult content (which is where the now-familiar "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" stickers came from).
      • In fact, the catalyst for founding the PMRC was the song "Darling Nikki" by Prince, which contained overt sexual references.
      • Resurrection Band, known for pioneering Christian Rock/Metal, inverted this trope in their tongue-in-cheek song "Elevator Muzik", which described classical music as artificial and commercialized, in contrast to music which focused on evangelism and spiritual growth.
    • An article denounced Alice Cooper as surely not a true Christian (even though he is, in real life, a born-again Christian and a volunteer Sunday School teacher), not so much because of his particular style of shock rock, but because he happened to be involved in the rock 'n roll industry at all:
      I urge you to [...] renounce everything you did in the past and the evils of rock music in general.
      • Alice Cooper was a symbol of degenerate youth, who ended up on "Hollywood Squares".
    • So has the tendency of some bands to play at 100 db or more. Admittedly, they have a point in that case, but not as much as they think they do; "this band plays at 110 decibels live; therefore all its music is evil" isn't actually valid logic.
    • Because of its raucous beat and unintelligibly slurred vocals, the 1963 hit "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen was rumored to feature unspeakably obscene lyrics. The FBI even attempted to decipher the lyrics to see if they violated obscenity laws. Eleven hundred pages later, the FBI confessed that they weren't sure if there were any harmful effects to "Louie Louie" or not because they couldn't understand the words. As it turns out, the song was actually a completely innocent lament of a Jamaican sailor missing his girlfriend while at sea.
    • The 1950s moral panic is parodied in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story when Dewey plays a sweet, gentle pop ballad about holding hands at his school talent show. The second he starts playing it, previously well-behaved teenage girls turn into sex-crazed nymphos, previously well-behaved teenage boys turn into violent thugs, and everyone else ends up barricading Dewey's house with Torches and Pitchforks screaming about how he's going to hell.
    • This has shown up in books as recently as 2005. At least one "youth minister's handbook" describes rock and roll as irrevocably tainted because Elvis was evil.
  • 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 (and plenty of supposedly "progressive") commentators.
    • Even white rappers were subject to this, experiencing racism by association as well as pushback based on the homophobia and misogyny of their lyrics. Eminem was arguably the focal point of this particular branch of the controversy after releasing The Slim Shady LP. Alter-Ego Acting as the Anti-Role Model Slim Shady, Eminem rapped lyrics that, while violent and shocking, were also silly and laced with Meta Guy disclaimers pointing out that the songs were all kayfabe. However, his whiteness led to him having significantly increased influence amongst white kids compared to many of his peers, resulting in concern over the use of misogynistic and homophobic slurs in his music that, while legitimate in many ways, also involved taking the lyrics out of context. Eminem was also caught in the crossfire of anti-black racism - many white critics were appalled that a white man would lower himself to making black music, inducting white suburban teens with a culture that they viewed as inherently violent and thuggish and representing the downfall of white society. His beef with the media forms the spine of The Marshall Mathers LP, in which virtually every song satirises the idea that rap music causes real life tragedy - from claiming responsibility for every contemporary violent news story ("it's too late/I'm triple platinum and tragedies happened in two states") and more ("I invented violence!"note ), telling cautionary tales about how you shouldn't believe anything he says ("And what's this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too? I say that shit just clowning dog, come on, how fucked up is you?"note ), or ironically baiting his listeners to take drugs or commit suicide. On "White America", on The Eminem Show, he mocks the fact that he's viewed as an enemy due to his popularity with white children ("Erica loves my shit!"), and on his Dr. Dre collaboration/ghost-writing effort, "Forgot About Dre", he suggests he became violent due to listening to Gangsta Rap:
      So what do you say to somebody you hate (What?)
      Or anyone tryna bring trouble your way?
      Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way? (Yup)
      Just study a tape of N.W.A.
      One day I was walkin' by
      With a Walkman on, when I caught a guy
      Gave me an awkward eye ('Chu lookin' at?)
      And strangled him up in the parking lot with his Karl Kani
  • 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 band (who are an electronic music band with a rock/punk edge and mentality to them) recognizes as their "most punk moment".
  • Ever since the early 90s, the moral panic surrounding Electronic Music, raves, and the drug use admittedly common in the scene (which has led to more than a few deaths by overdoses) has often left the genre and its fandom Overshadowed by Controversy. Even after electronic dance music started gaining significant American crossover success and began adopting a more pop-friendly image starting in the early 2010s, the association with heavy drug use unfortunately remains strong to this day.
    • 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 it's 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!
  • Averted with Studio Brussel, a Belgian radio station made in 1983 that aired pretty much everything that was unavailable for general audiences at the time, which is mostly rock, but also metal, hip-hop, house and techno. Everyone in the government wanted this to happen, mainly because it would allow Belgian pop music to keep being preserved.
  • Daniel Amos, a Christian rock band that started in the 70s, mocked the church's attempts to incite moral panics. In particular, on the songs "Colored By" (from ¡Alarma!), "Autographs for the Sick" (from Doppelgänger), and "Return of the Beat Menace" (from Darn Floor Big Bite), they skewer anyone who thinks prominent drums are a marker of "the Devil's music". "White man through the P.A. says 'Don’t beat that drum' / They tell him 'Go back, where does it say that?'" Naturally, DA wound up in the middle of a minor fracas themselves: Alarma featured Eyeless Faces on the cover, which the usual sort of people claimed were "Satanic".
  • Flemish series Zonde Van de Zendtijd deconstructed the rock and roll panic scares with De CD van de Paus (The CD of the Pope), where they made a classics documentary about alleged commercial singles made by the pope Benedict XVI. In a normal scenario, you would expect a new band with revolutionary music to get demonized as "Satanic", but because the pope made the single, it suddenly gets seen as a product by god himself. His successor Francis I actually has made a rock album.
  • Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht was Johann Sebastian Bach's commentary on this attitude towards coffee addiction in 18th-century Leipzig.
  • A hilariously bizarre 1971 anti-rock sermon by Detroit minister (and future televangelist) Jack Van Impe has been sampled in a few songs.
    Nineteen hundred seventy-four is the year that they are now planning for sex on the streets in every major city from coast to coast! And, get ready for a shock, the music that they're planning to use to crumble the morals of America is this rotten, filthy, dirty, lewd, lascivious JUNK called rock and roll! It isn't just the lyrics, it's the BEAT!...The fertility rites of the jungles are the same beats incorporated in this modern rock, to stir them up.
  • A Christian talk show from Canada complained about Billie Eilish for being a bad role model for her target audience of teenage girls because of some of her lyrics (especially the pre-chorus of "Bad Guy," where she describes herself as the "might seduce your Dad type") and the fact that she put a tarantula in her mouth in a music video.note  The same talk show complained about Marshmello simply for cross-promoting his music through Fortnite.
  • Mormonism wasn't immune to anti-rock panics at all. In 1964 one mission president specifically forbade Beatle haircuts. Church leaders denounced Jesus Christ Superstar. In The '80s a Utah-based music mogul named Lynn Bryson went on the youth "fireside" circuit with a special two-day presentation. The first day was a talk about the evils of rock, including backwards messages (particularly the alleged Satan stuff in "Stairway to Heaven" and the purported "it's fun to smoke marijuana" in "Another One Bites the Dust"), with John Lennon and Yoko Ono as the central figures in a vast Conspiracy Theory about rock, the Illuminati and the Spear of Destiny. The second day was devoted to Bryson performing a concert of his own Moral Substitute music, which he conveniently also had available for purchase.
  • The more excitable sections of UK mass media see Drill Music as being closely linked to gang violence. Stab a rival on Monday, rap about it on Tuesday, upload a video on Wednesday.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Patricia Pulling's one-woman 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 marker.
  • There was also a brief spate of this in The '90s 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.
  • The Pokémon trading card game, when it (and the whole franchise) first became popular, was a case of this. It was accused of distracting students during class, starting fights between children, and as one news report put it, "turning the playground into a black market" (since apparently, to children, card games are Serious Business). Somehow, these people seem to have forgotten that stuff like baseball cards existed long before Pokemon did, since most were complaining more about the fact that they were trading cards than anything else.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! is also no stranger to controversy as a card game with various themes across its monsters. From fiends to dragons, Egyptian iconography and angelic depictions, the cards drew ire from various Christian sources during its initial release. Thanks to its heavy theming of Egypt in the anime, the card game was demonized during the first year of its run, but thankfully felt significantly shorter and less extreme backlash due to the Pokémon TCG having been out much longer and already having gone through this debacle. While there are still Christian organizations that denounce it for its themes of sorcery and occultism, most have, over time, simply spoke of it as any other vice: dangerous if overindulged and harmful if you cannot recognize that it is just a game.

  • 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 than 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 successfully 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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 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, but they also 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 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.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! was blamed for the suicide of a 15-year-old boy in Britain by the boy's father and various news outlets. The game was accused of "dragging kids in" to suicide.
  • 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. Perhaps one of the most hilarious video game witch-hunts was done by the state of Missouri in which they began warning parents about a pedophile who goes from game to game trying to get pictures from minors. 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 (some have described the series as "everything the pastors thought Pokémon was in the 90s"), with American marketing of Nocturne even attempting to use the game's more controversial themes as a selling point, 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, the Tales Series, and Dragon Quest), they are much more laid-back, religiously speaking. It helps that many western gamers had their start with SMT through the Persona spin-offs, which don't refer to demons as such, but as... well, 'personas'. Even the personas that are demons in the main series. This most probably helped it slide in under the radar. Wonderful, what a simple renaming will do. That said, while it managed to fly under the radar of Christians, the depiction of Lord Krishna in IV Apocalypse did receive some criticism from Hindus.
  • Messaging options and settings on Nintendo consoles with online play are extremely limited, probably in response to those accusations that unsavory individuals could use online functions to contact children. Many online 3DS games don't allow for free conversation, opting for pre-set messages and the like; just enough to get by on. When one is allowed to enter a custom message in a game, it's usually limited to something under 20-ish characters.
    • However, when the 3DS was first released there was an application called Swapnote that allowed people to freely communicate with friends and send photographs. It was discontinued in 2013 due to a couple of instances of child predators in Japan using the app to communicate with children.
  • The game HuniePop was briefly taken off of Steam (as well as various visual novels) following a campaign of concerned parents led by a group known as the "National Center on Sexual Exploitation" (NCOSE) as part of a move to ban all games featuring sexually explicit or implicit content with the stance that such content incentivizes real-life acts of sexual assault, or that all of the content on the platform is sexual violence in some serious shape or form. While the developer of HuniePop began asking users to help reverse the decision, NCOSE initially ran a congratulatory article about Steam finally removing all sexual content from the platform, and even wrote two follow-up articles further patting themselves on the back while calling out tweets from upset Steam users over what they saw as censorship by NCOSE. Not even a full month later, Steam went on record reversing its decision after serious backlash from the community, deciding to curate basically no content from the site that wasn't explicitly criminal sexual assault, and NCOSE became incredibly upset and ran several articles claiming Steam was now "welcoming" sexual violence. Given HuniePop's popularity amongst streamers and youtubers at the time, the news spread much faster across Steam and quickly gained traction, and thanks to this HuniePop was reinstated back to the store with no changes made. NCOSE has never forgiven Steam for the reversal, and runs regular articles attacking Valve for their stance.

    Web Comics 
  • 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. only in this case with polka.
    Know what I blame? I blame that new dance music
  • Deconstructed 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 sordid 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.
  • Pegasaurus Games in Dork Tower, at one point, had so many groups coming in to protest role-playing games that the owner started scheduling them.
    • This was during an arc in which Pokémon (the TCG) was being protested. Matt and Igor went to check out the bonfire the protesters were using to burn cards as a demonstration, during which Igor sorted through cards and prevented the protestors from burning rares and Matt got annoyed when someone claimed that protesting role-playing games was "passé".
    "We're still evil too, you know! WE'RE STILL EVIL TOO, YOU KNOW!"

    Western Animation 
  • 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 understandable (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). There have also been accusations that "Smurf" is an acronym for Socialist Men Under Red Father; the argument falls apart when you realize that "The Smurfs" is just the anglicization of the original Belgian, Les Schtroumpfs.
    • Certain people also complained 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 (never mind that it's not really a kids' show in the first place). 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 tamer 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.
  • Steven Universe contains numerous covert and overt discussions of gender conformity, gay relationships, and female empowerment. In particular, the Russian Government and many Russian citizens (especially those in the older demographics) heavily disproved of the relationship between characters Ruby and Sapphire. Due to prevailing homophobia and transphobia, the moral guardians in charge felt it necessary to censor the relationship, which resulted in some lines of dialogue trying not to refer to Ruby by any pronoun (the often-circulated rumor of her being edited to have a beard is false). Eventually, the show was canceled entirely in its Russian dub due to the continuous gay theming and laws against depicting such things to minors. This, of course, did not stop fans from finding Russian fansubs of the original English dub and just watching it wholly unedited.

TV Tropes is corrupting our youth! America is doomed!


Video Example(s):


"The Blame Game"

"The Blame Game" mocks the trope my pointing to every form of media as the reason why public shootings happen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheNewRockAndRoll

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