Moral Panic Monday!

I couldn’t bring myself to watch more than five minutes of Difference of Opinion tonight (not for the first time). Let me just say that bullying existed before cyber bullying, pron existed before the intertubes, teenagers were writing angsty poetry before typewriters, and subcultures existed before Myspace. All this technology blaming obscures the fact that technology is an enabler – and what it enables is a mirror of its environment. But it also enables the contestation of that society, as the feminist blogosphere for instance tries to do, and the anger and angst and abuse that arises in response is not something new either.

Instead, I was going to blog about the coverage of the tragic suicide of two young Melbourne girls, which goes way beyond an examination of the circumstances into classic moral panic territory. But Mr Lefty has beaten me to it, so go read his post.

Incidentally, I wonder whether anyone in the meejah has noticed the irony between blaming those intertubes for all manner of social ill given the trash fest that Fairfax Digital and the News tabloids serve up online. Well exposed on Media Watch tonight.

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Posted in culture, Disasters, media, sociology
31 comments on “Moral Panic Monday!
  1. Christine Keeler says:

    Well my exposure to the crapulent sophistry of DOO lasted all of about five seconds. But you have to hand it to them, teenagers AND new technology in the same topic: Step right up folks! Two moral panics for the price of one!

    In a parallel universe somewhere someone’s having a debate about teenagers and steam engines.

    Nice piece by MW, though, and their first substantial ep for the year. Let’s hope it gets meatire.

  2. Christine Keeler says:

    … or meatier even. Stupid typing thumbs.

  3. Shaun says:

    Emo? Back in my day we had heavy metal. Maiden, Ozzy, Priest etc all being targeted as corrupting the youth of the 80s.

    The moral panic just covers up the inability to find explanation for such a tragic event. It is something that we’ll never really understand no matter how many modern ills are trotted out in trying to make sense of it all.

  4. Helen says:

    Grim pronouncements by Michael Carr-Gregg, Adolescent Psychologist, in the AGE today, too. Like, putting their photos on your FRONT PAGE isn’t encouraging copycats, oh no, not at all.

    Anyone else got that song stuck in their head now?

    Just a Moral Panic Monday,
    Wish it was Sunday,
    That’s my fun day…

    Thanks, Kim ;-/

  5. dj says:

    Metal/punk/hardcore t-shirts were banned by my school because they were deemed to be ‘cultish’. It was okay though for kids to wear giant pictures of boybands, logos of multinationals, etc. etc.

    Much like Tipper Gore, most of the people doing the banning had never listened to the music or read the lyrics and merely gave some hand-waiving excuse about Satanism, etc. I was a fairly good student and it only served to entrench my attitude that a significant number of teachers were stupid, ill-informed authority freaks who would just arbitrarily ban something they didn’t like or understand. Imagine what the kids who didn’t want to be at school thought.

  6. Nabakov says:

    You kids are probably too young to remember the brief moral panic whipped up when New Order released “Blue Monday”. All the usual suspects were trotted out then after a gloomy Scandinavian or two topped themselves apparently after listening to it.

  7. John Greenfield says:

    Kim

    We may rarely agree, but I do adore you darling, so why oh why do you torture yourself so every Monday night. My favourite Tuesday morning thrill has become leaping to the computer to see if you have had a breakdown over the previous night’s DOI. Just Say NO, sweetie! 🙂 Next week watch a re-run of Desperate Housewives, instead!

  8. Kim says:

    Grrrr. If only Coonan and the straighteners hadn’t forced the Adults Only Big Brother off the air, my 9.30pm Monday night viewing would be divine! 🙂

  9. My day was so long ago we didn’t even have moral panic.

    Unless you count sermons from the pulpit about electricity and reading under electric light and communists and jazz and folk music.

    My favourite sermon included a throwaway about the dangers of having a shower or bath every day “destroys the natural oils of the body”

  10. Cliff says:

    I was reading in the New Republic today an article arguing that violence has dramatically decreased in humanity with the development of civilization (especially that of the western variety)… yet we often deplore our times as particularly violent. I suppose the reason for this discrepancy is similar to that observed via new media. Phenomena can become amplified through exposure and thus take on more significance than before.

  11. Cliff says:

    You kids are probably too young to remember the brief moral panic whipped up when New Order released “Blue Mondayâ€?. All the usual suspects were trotted out then after a gloomy Scandinavian or two topped themselves apparently after listening to it.

    I heard that the song was about Ian Curtis… in which case it does have a connection to suicide. Albeit not as a celebration of it or exhortation to do it.

  12. Paul Norton says:

    Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult was the suicide inciter of choice for my generation of adolescents. Must have been those arpeggiated power chords, or a subliminal message in the effect produced by Buck Dharma and Allen Lanier rubbing their guitars against each other on MTV.

  13. Cliff says:

    Nowadays musicians are more likely to be blamed for murder-suicides rather than just suicide, e.g. Marilyn Manson and Columbine.

    Personally, I don’t see how music could push you over an edge… in my mind people are always ready to jump over anyway, regardless. If I’m in a bad mood, listening to sad music actually makes me feel better. I’d be more depressed if I constantly confronted with happy music in such moods, really. Angsty music, in my opinion, is more likely to make depressed teens feel an affinity, as it gives them a sense that others have, or are still, in the same emotional boat as they are. It ameliorates the sense of loneliness and alienation that is the real killer, if you ask me.

  14. Nabakov says:

    T’would be a real bastard to quantify but I’ll willing to bet that once someone does, the stats would prove that the solace and inspiration of music has actually saved more people from killing themselves and/or others than vice versa.

    Or to swing the viewpoint around, imagine if Hitler or Stalin had actually “got” Beethoven or Tchaikovsky. Then one would have immigrated to NYC and ended up as a longwinded but energetic SF and fantasy magazine illustrator (thanks for that vision Norman Spinrad) and the other as a rather sleazy Georgian version of Don Camillo.

  15. Paul Norton says:

    Nabs, you undercut a point I tend to strongly agree with by a couple of badly chosen examples.

    As Simon Sebag Montefiore points out in his biography of Stalin, Uncle Joe was very much into the music. He was an excellent singer in his own right, and was responsible for the choice of Alexandrov’s magnificent composition as the Soviet (and now Russian) national anthem after a nationwide song contest to choose a new anthem. (He was also responsible for the crap lyrics glorifying himself and the mass murder of his opponents.)

    As for Hitler, whilst he wouldn’t have appreciated a liberal like Beethoven who was sufficiently moved by Schiller’s democratic polemical poem Ode To Joy to put it to music, he certainly got Wagner. You must have missed the Hogan’s Heroes episode in which Colonel Klink sings the melody to Flight of the Valkyries.

  16. FDB says:

    Paul:

    Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult was the suicide inciter of choice for my generation of adolescents. Must have been those arpeggiated power chords, or a subliminal message in the effect produced by Buck Dharma and Allen Lanier rubbing their guitars against each other on MTV.

    Nope. It was the cowbell.

  17. anthony says:

    Paul

    Re: Don’t Fear The Reaper – the prescription is, more cowbell.

  18. Another comment held up in moderation too long to be pertinent says:

    Snap!

  19. j_p_z says:

    Paul Norton: “…You must have missed the Hogan’s Heroes episode in which Colonel Klink sings the melody to Flight of the Valkyries.”

    Colonel Klink, of course, was played by Werner Klemperer, whose father was the famous conductor Otto Klemperer (and whose version of The Magic Flute is still my favorite). I think Werner went on to become a successful conductor in his own right.

    Klemperer should consider doing a series, lecturing on music history as Colonel Klink. (If he’s still alive.) It would be even better than Sister Wendy!

  20. anthony says:

    Sorry FDB, I’m the Steven Bradbury of comments.

  21. FDB says:

    That’s okay Anthony. I’m the [insert name here of author who always took ages to get anything published after writing it] of comments.

    I said it at my 16th birthday party, about a thousand times since, and I’ll say it again:

    DOWN WITH MODERATION!!!!

  22. John Greenfield says:

    Kim

    You who. Wakey wakey. It’s moral panic manic Monday! If you want a quick heart starter, check out your favourite ‘feminist of convenience’s’ offering today. It’s a pearler. 🙂

  23. Ilsa, Phantom Agent says:

    A link would be useful JG

  24. Ilsa, Phantom Agent says:

    Oh let me see JG, Labor has its weekend media gig and, amazingly, the Beluchistan Bugle comes up with:

    Gillard denies Labor IR policy is anti-business: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21643316-601,00.html

    Paul Kelly: A bizarre blast from the past: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21643313-601,00.html

    Union deals to be forced on bosses: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21643326-601,00.html

    Editorial: Labor looks for its future in the past http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21642040-601,00.html

    Glenn Milne: PM buoyed as ALP caves in to unions http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21641552-601,00.html

    Janet Albrechtsen: Kev turns Left after all http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/janetalbrechtsen/index.php/theaustralian/comments/i_was_wrong_kev_turns_left_after_all/

    He must be stopped!

  25. steve says:

    The Australian just likes to help out Howard whenever he is in trouble. The bookies have blown out the odds of a win for your side John. You will probably be able to name your own price for a coalition win after Costello produces his next no bounce budget.

    It is just the last desparate shuffle before the writers abondon ship and head for the liferafts. Rats and sinking ships John.

  26. Spiros says:

    “Klemperer should consider doing a series, lecturing on music history as Colonel Klink. (If he’s still alive.) ”

    He died in 2000.

  27. Ilsa, Phantom Agent says:

    But I AM moderate! Sheesh!

  28. John Greenfield says:

    Steve

    I fear you are right about rats and deserting ships, but not for the reasons you state. I thought it was quite clear I am a common garden variety Labor voter.

    About 70% of all the votes I have ever cast have been for Labor. I even voted for Blair when I was living in London. About 10% have been for Independents (local issues), 10% for International Socialists (we all have a past), one for each of the Hemp Party and Shooter’s Party and I put Aden Ridgeway at the top of my Senate vote last time. Apart from Aden I, of course, share any sane person’s belief that the Democrats should all go back to teaching primary school in South Australia, where they belong.

    The rats I see deserting are the parliamentary ALP. I am greatly relieved that the Luvvies are finally being disenfranchised from the party’s policy thinking. However, I despair Rudd has not filled the vacuum with a re-embrace of Labor’s base.

    But my link to L’Albrechtsen’s article has nothing to do with any of this. It is just a little joke with Kim about Mondays. 😉

  29. Here it is, 3.00 pm and still not a skerrick of moral panic on the horizon.

    The closest we’ve come so far is Paul Gray’s piece for the Melbourne Rupert on why C. australicus Howardii would have made a better captain for the Titanic than Rudd:

    But what is the biggest moral problem facing Australia today?

    John Howard said last week it isn’t climate change.

    It is impossible to state statistically what proportion of the population does believe that climate change is our biggest moral problem. Given that it is an in-fashion view among our tertiary-educated elites, it’s bound to be a substantial percentage.

    But not a majority percentage among Australians.

    Most people still think that more important is how we treat our fellow human beings.

    That’s why crime — human beings beating up, robbing and murdering each other — is always going to be much more passionately followed as a matter of public interest than a debate between scientists and economists over peak-flow charts and whether we’ll have enough coal and water 25 years ahead.

    Never mind getting the passengers to the life boats – for gawd’s sake don’t give them any chance to steal the deck chairs!

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