Moral Panics and Games


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Slides prepared for a guest lecture to Cultural Studies students at Ghent University, 13th Dec 2010

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Moral Panics and Games

  1. Moral Panics and Games University of Ghent, 14th Dec 2010 Jason Rutter Jason.Rutter@soc.kuleuven.beMonday, 13 December 2010
  2. • The beginning - Mods vs Rockers • Reporting of Moral Panics • Attitudes to Moral Panics • Responses to Moral Panics • Games - a modern Moral Panic • Addiction & health • Non-events • Games & violence • A model of Moral Panics • What’s the role of Moral Panics?Monday, 13 December 2010
  3. Moral PanicsMonday, 13 December 2010
  4. Jock Young, 1971, The Drugtakers: The Social Meaning of Drug Use Stanley Cohen, 1972, Folk Devils and Moral Panics Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J. & Roberts B., 1978, Policing the Crisis: Mugging the State and Law and Order Goode, E. & Ben Yehuda, N., 1994, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of DevianceMonday, 13 December 2010
  5. Jock Young, 1971, The Drugtakers: The Social Meaning of Drug Use Stanley Cohen, 1972, Folk Devils and Moral Panics Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J. & Roberts B., 1978, Policing the Crisis: Mugging the State and Law and Order Goode, E. & Ben Yehuda, N., 1994, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of DevianceMonday, 13 December 2010
  6. Key Quotation! Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible. Sometimes the object of the panic is quite novel and at other times it is something which has been in existence long enough, but suddenly appear in the limelight. „ “ Sometime the panic passes over and is forgotten, except in folklore and collective memory; at other times it has more serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal and social policy or even in the way society conceives itself. Cohen, 1973: 1Monday, 13 December 2010
  7. The beginning - Mods vs RockersMonday, 13 December 2010
  8. Mods Rockers Leather jackets Suits Motorcycles Scooters Oafish Effeminate Elvis & Gene Vincent The Who & Small FacesMonday, 13 December 2010
  9. • Fights between young mods & rockers - 1964 • UK south coast seaside resorts - Clacton, Margate, Brighton, Bournemouth • Not a new phenomenon • Reporting in the mediaMonday, 13 December 2010
  10., 13 December 2010
  11. Mods invading the beach at Margate, Kent waving sticks and throwing bottles at retreating Rockers, 18 May 1964, 13 December 2010
  12. "vermin" "odious louts" “mutated locusts” "sawdust Caesars" "internal enemies" “grubby hordes of louts and sluts”Cohen, pp38-40, 13 December 2010
  13., 13 December 2010
  14. What makes a moral panic?Monday, 13 December 2010
  15. New Cultural Approach to Criminology • Not about measuring • Sets the stage - ethnomethods • Gives ‘less(Cohen, p.16) to the actors than the audience’ attention • Deviance not just about rule breaking • Society decides which rules and when to apply them (cf Becker, Outsiders, 1963) • Labelling is at the heart of devianceMonday, 13 December 2010
  16. Reporting of events not unbiased - tends to stylise and sensationaliseMonday, 13 December 2010
  17. Specific types of activity singled out for large amounts of media attentionMonday, 13 December 2010
  18. Reporting of Moral Panics 1. Exaggeration & Distortion - ‘Over-reporting’ numbers, effects, damage. Emotive language. Repetition of false stories 2. Prediction - What happened will happen again. Reporting of none-events 3. Symbolization - Individual signs represent the moral panic. ‘Dramatized and ritualistic interviews’ (p.29) Cohen, 1972Monday, 13 December 2010
  19. Key Quotation! There appear to be three processes in such symbolization: a word (Mod) becomes symbolic of a certain status (delinquent or deviant); objects (hairstyles, clothing) symbolize the word; the objects themselves become symbolic of the status (and the „ “ emotions attached to the status). Cohen, 1973: 27Monday, 13 December 2010
  20. Segments of a society are singled out a deviant, dangerous or demanding regulation (‘folk devils’)Monday, 13 December 2010
  21. Attitudes to Moral Panics 1. Orientation - Events seen as disaster or doom. Part of a bigger problem 2. Images - ‘Spurious Attribution’. Labelling as ‘hooligans’, ‘thugs’, ‘vermin’, etc. 3. Causation - Social consequences. Sign of the times. Sick society. Cabalism. Cohen, 1972Monday, 13 December 2010
  22. Events are framed as a consequence of larger social problemsMonday, 13 December 2010
  23. Responses to Moral Panics 1. Sensitization - Creating awareness. Developing a specific threat. Reclassifying events to be part of the threat. 2. Societal Control - ‘Rescue and remedy’ I. Diffusion - Creeps from area of initial impact II. Escalation - Need to stop things getting out of hand III. Innovation - Need for wider action or legislation 3. Agent of Control - Police, Courts, Experts, Moral Entrepreneurs Cohen, 1972Monday, 13 December 2010
  24. Key Quotation! Moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions. „ “ Cohen, 1973: 1Monday, 13 December 2010
  25. Folk Devil Moral EntrepreneurMonday, 13 December 2010
  26. Folk Devil Moral EntrepreneurMonday, 13 December 2010
  27. Jack Thomson Expert & Moral EntrepreneurMonday, 13 December 2010
  28. Amplificatin of DevianceMonday, 13 December 2010
  29. Key Quotation! The media have long operated as agents of moral indignation in their own right; even if they are not self-consciously engaged in crusading or muck-racking, their very reporting of certain facts can be sufficient to enerate concern, anxiety, indignation or panic. When such feelings coincide with a perception that particular values need to be „ “ protected, the pre-conditions for new rule creation or social problem definition are present. Cohen, 1973: 16Monday, 13 December 2010
  30. reinfo rce ral Panics Mo “Right and proper way for a person of this gender, age and nation to behave and to be.” Critcher, 2009, p.18 Critcher, C., (2009) Widening the Focus: Moral Panics as Moral Regulation, British Journal of Criminology. 49 (1), pp.17-34.Monday, 13 December 2010
  31. Games - a modern Moral PanicMonday, 13 December 2010
  33. Alan Titmarsh Show, ITV, March 2010, 13 December 2010
  34. Games are a threat to CHILDHOODMonday, 13 December 2010
  35. rotecting ‘P ldhoo d’ C hi Health Family Friends Control InnocenceMonday, 13 December 2010
  36. Children can be both the focus of moral panics and the victims of the panic’s subjectMonday, 13 December 2010
  37. VictimsMonday, 13 December 2010
  38. GameMonday, 13 December 2010 Addiction
  39. Panorama: Addicted to Games BBC TV, 6th Dec 2010Monday, 13 December 2010
  40. ObesityMonday, 13 December 2010
  41. Wellspring UK Britain’s first fat camp for teenagers The camp’s clinical director, Susan Borgman, agrees about the causes of the obesity epidemic and says: ‘We can trace it back to the early Eighties. ‘Kids began buying video and computer games and this also coincided with a time when the rising cost of living meant more parents were going out to work and less supervision meant more convenience meals. The Sun, 28th Jul 2008Monday, 13 December 2010
  42. 8th Jan 2009Monday, 13 December 2010
  43. DESPERATE Billy Robbins holds the unenviable title of the Worlds Heaviest Teenager - after topping 60 STONE. His life-threatening weight - half a ton - follows years of overfeeding by his misguided mother, Barbara. Billy, 19, was housebound for three years before doctors told Barbara she was literally killing him with love. He spent his days watching TV and playing video games as Barbara waited on him hand and foot. 8th Jan 2009Monday, 13 December 2010
  44. Monday, 13 December 2010
  45. The Sun, 13th Nov 2010Monday, 13 December 2010
  46. CRIPPLING bone disease rickets has made a shock comeback - because kids are staying indoors with video games instead of playing in the sunshine. The condition - rife in gloomy 19th-century slums but wiped out in Britain in the 1930s - has been found in more than A FIFTH of children in a Southampton study. And unlike the olden days, when it was linked with poverty, medics say it is now just as rife in middle-class youngsters. [...] Stunned study leader Professor Nicholas Clarke said: "It is quite astonishing. This is a completely new occurrence that has evolved over the last 12 to 24 months., 13 December 2010
  47. Raoul MoatMonday, 13 December 2010
  48. FURY erupted last night over plans for a Raoul Moat book, movie and game ... before the man he killed has even been laid to rest. [...] And last night gaming websites showed the cover of Grand Theft Auto Rothbury - a version of the Xbox hit Grand Theft Auto. It is named after the Northumberland town where Moat, 37, hid then shot himself after his gun rampage in which he shot ex-lover Samantha Stobbart, 22, killer her lover Chris Brown, 29, and shot and blinded Pc David Rathband, 42 in both eyes. [...] Samantha’s grandmother, Ann Hornsby, 69, said [...] “It is sick - it’s blood money. The game is beyond belief.” Daily Star, 21st July 2010:, 13 December 2010
  49. Grand Theft Auto: RothburyMonday, 13 December 2010
  50. Take 2 sue Express Newspapers • Story had no truth • Did not contact Rockstar games • Box cover was a photoshop creation • ‘Substantial’ damages donated to charity of Rockstars choosing • Daily Star apologised • Removed story from web siteMonday, 13 December 2010
  51. ON 21 July we published an article claiming that the video games company Rockstar Games were planning to release a version of their popular Grand Theft Auto video games series titled “Grand Theft Auto Rothbury”. We also published what we claimed would be the cover of this game, solicited comments from a family member impacted by the recent tragedy and criticised Rockstar Games for their alleged plans. We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event. Daily Star, 26th July 2010:, 13 December 2010
  52. PerpetratorsMonday, 13 December 2010
  53. Game ViolenceMonday, 13 December 2010
  54. Charlie Brooker’s Gameswipe, BBC, Sept 2009Monday, 13 December 2010
  55. School ShootingsMonday, 13 December 2010
  56. Virginia Tech Massacre April 16th 2007 Seung-Hui Cho - 2nd year BIS student Two attacks separated by two hours Killed 32: Wounded 17 Committed suicide.Monday, 13 December 2010
  57., 13 December 2010
  58. A Media Friendly Massacre Pictures of himself holding weapons, an 1,800-word rambling diatribe, and video clips in which he expresses rage, resentment, and a desire to get even with oppressors. Virginia Tech Review Panel, 2009, p.29Monday, 13 December 2010
  59., 13 December 2010
  60. Seung-Hui ChoMonday, 13 December 2010
  61. Seung-Hui ChoMonday, 13 December 2010
  62. Monday, 13 December 2010
  63. Park Chan-wook’s ‘Oldboy’Monday, 13 December 2010
  64. Park Chan-wook’s ‘Oldboy’Monday, 13 December 2010
  65. Diagnosis of ‘selective mutism’ & ‘major depression’ in childhoodMonday, 13 December 2010
  66. Hide mental health history in high School Counselling sessions withdrawn given slight improvement in communication Suicidal and homicidal thoughtsMonday, 13 December 2010
  67. ‘Pathological shyness’ worsened in college Increasingly ‘dark’ contributions to creative writing course Reports of stalking Involuntary hospitalisationMonday, 13 December 2010
  68., 13 December 2010
  69. A Model ofMonday, 13 December 2010 Moral Panics
  70. 1. Emergence 2. Media inventory 3. Moral entrepreneurs 4. Experts 5. Coping & resolution 6. Fade away 7. Legacy Chas Critcher, 2003, Moral Panics and the MediaMonday, 13 December 2010
  71. To seek for evidence of the ‘the effects of media violence’ is to persist in asking simplistic questions about complicated social issues. Key Quotation! Buckingham (1997: 67) „ “ Buckingham, D. (1997) ‘Electronic child abuse? Rethinking the media’s effects on children’, in M. Barker & J. Petley (Eds.), Ill Effects: The Media / Violence Debate (pp. 63–77). Routledge, London: Sage.Monday, 13 December 2010
  72. Moral Panics on Games hide discussions about young people and: Parenting Sexuality Care by schools Mental health Access to guns Food industryMonday, 13 December 2010
  73. Who Benefits? • Media? Attracts audiences; Drive sales; Develops a voice • Moral Entrepreneurs? Publicise agenda; Strengthen importance; influence policy • Experts? Develop profile; User engagement; REF... • Games Industry? Publicise games; Develop mainstream; Show responsibilityMonday, 13 December 2010
  74. B u t ... Do Young People?Monday, 13 December 2010
  75. Jason Rutter Web: Slides: Twitter: @JaseRutter @StevoProject @DigiplayProject Jason.Rutter@soc.kuleuven.beMonday, 13 December 2010