Stranger Things Season 4: Satanic Panic Explained
stranger things dives headfirst into the Satanic Panic of Season 4, and we thought it might need a little explaining. First introduced at the end of Season 3, it becomes a bit more prominent in the new season now that the kids are in high school and playing. Dungeons & Dragons with a new group of friends.
Basically, Satanic Panic was the “catchy” name used in the 1980s when moral hysteria hit the country, leading to the belief that devil worship was rampant in the United States. Frequently compared to the witch trials of the 1600s or McCarthyism of the 1950s, conservative parent groups blamed music, movies and games for what they believed to be a sudden increase in occult dabbling, and claimed that preschools and daycare centers across the country were abusing and killing their charges in large-scale and well-organized satanic rituals.
The Satanic Panic “officially” began with a book published in 1980 titled Michelle remembers. The book, written by psychologist Lawrence Pazder about his patient (and, eventually, his wife) Michelle Smith, tells the true story of Michelle’s experiences as a child victim of a satanic cult. Through the use of hypnosis, Michelle claimed to have been rubbed in babies’ blood, sexually abused, locked in cages and witnessed the cult’s murder. The alleged abuse ended after an ongoing 81-day ritual that was supposed to erase Michelle’s scars and erase memories of the abuse until “the time was right”. The book and Michelle’s whole story were discredited, but not soon enough: panic had set in.
In the span of a decade, there have been hundreds of accusations of satanic ritual abuse around the world. One of the first and most prolific cases was the McMartin preschool case in Southern California. In 1993, a mother claimed her son was being abused by her ex-husband and that he may have also been abused at his nursery school. This resulted in a form letter being sent from the police to parents at the school. Eventually, hundreds of children were interrogated, with techniques that were later discredited. Some of the children’s more bizarre claims included flying witches, hot air balloon rides, children being flushed down toilets in secret rooms, and a network of underground tunnels under the school where cult rituals took place. Between the preliminary inquiries and the trial itself, the McMartin case lasted seven years and did not result in a single conviction. All charges were dropped in 1990. In 1994, the first in-depth study of Satanic ritual abuse was published. Although there have been a few isolated cases “of lone perpetrators or couples who say they are involved with Satan or use pretense to intimidate victims”, more than 12,000 cases showed no evidence of satanic abuse at all. large scale or well organized.
stranger things deals with the more ridiculous and less traumatic side of satanic panic; to know, Dungeons & Dragons. J&D has its own share of problems during the Satanic Panic. The game was briefly blamed for the disappearance and eventual suicide of James Dallas Egbert III. He disappeared from his dorm after writing a suicide note, but when the pills he took didn’t kill him, he hid at a friend’s house. Egbert’s parents hired a private investigator, who speculated that his disappearance was gambling-related. Of course, it had nothing to do with gambling; it had to do with severe depression. Egbert made his third suicide attempt.
The Egbert case became famous after a novel very loosely based on its story was written in 1981, Mazes and monsters by Rona Jaffe. It became a TV movie the following year, starring tom hank. In the film, Hanks’ character suffers a psychotic breakdown while playing a J&D– like a game.
However, the hysteria around Dungeons & Dragons and the Satanic Panic didn’t peak until 1983, when Christian curator Patricia Pulling created “Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons” (BADD). His son, Irving, who had participated in role-playing games, killed himself and Pulling blamed J&D. She sued the publishers of J&D for wrongful death, but the suit was dismissed. Pulling believed that J&D promoted Satanism, demonology, cannibalism, rape, murder, voodoo, homosexuality, prostitution, etc., and began distributing anti-role-playing material in schools, churches, services police and the media. Joining Pulling’s crusade is psychiatrist Thomas Radecki, director of the National Coalition on Television Violence, adding some credence to his claims – until you find out he had his medical license revoked repeatedly for “immoral conduct of an unprofessional nature with a patient”. “He is currently serving a prison sentence for over-prescribing opioids and for trading opioids for sex.
Another easy target for parent bands was heavy metal music. In 1985, the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was established to protect children from the allegedly corrupting influence of sex, drugs, bad language, and occult iconography in music. Directed by Tipper (wife of the future vice-president Al Gore) the group held Senate hearings and wanted to have warning labels on music, much like the MPAA rating system for movies. “O” on an album would indicate that there were occult themes on the album. The band released the Filthy 15, a list of the 15 most offensive songs of the era. Two were put on the list due to their occult content: “Possessed” by Venom and “Into the Coven” by Merciful Fate. Eventually, this group managed to get “Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics” stickers added to the albums, but without any checks this led to many stores banning albums with the sticker, with the albums being kept under the counters, refusal to sell to children. , and censorship by record companies.
As the decade progressed, the Satanic Panic began to wane, largely because the country was losing interest in it. He still pops up occasionally, though. For example, the West Memphis Three case in 1993 could certainly be seen as a satanic panic, because the teenagers accused and then convicted of raping and killing three young boys were prime suspects not because of evidence but because wore black, listened to heavy metal music and read Stephen King novels. They were eventually released from prison in 2011 under convoluted plea deals, but their records have not been expunged. The modern Q-Anon conspiratorial movement is also considered a “satanic panic”. Q-Anon followers believe, among other things, that Democrats and liberal “elites” in Hollywood are involved in satanic rituals that include the drinking of babies’ blood.
The satanic panic was the perfect storm of influence. The rise of the conservative Christian right, mandatory child abuse reporting laws, and an increase in the acceptance of therapy as mainstream treatment have all contributed to the rise of Satanic Panic. Although the catchy name is gone, it seems that we will never be safe from moral panic, satanic or otherwise.
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