Thursday, December 13, 2012

Satanic Panic of the 1980s

Rod Thompson over at Alesmiter linked this little gem: 12 Nutty Dungeons & Dragons Media from the 1980s, which is at Thompson argues that we should ignore the "Mrs Grundys" of the world. In my experience, problems happen when they don't ignore you. 

The article snippets are both humorous and baffling (somebody actually said that)  I love the 60 Minutes report at the end. Man-oh-man did they play up the sensationalism, the teenage suicides, the nerdy D&D player talking about evil characters, Patricia Pulling fearing D&D's powers of behavior modification, Pulling's daughter crying at the end, Gygax making the Monopoly and chair analogies, and, oh yes, the eighties hair styles! Good stuff.

I missed out on the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Well, looking back, I wouldn't say I missed it. I don't know if my brother delt with panicky preachers or concerned mothers. I did, but that was well into the 1990s.

As for picture above, that comes from the Escapist. It's the front cover to an anti-D&D booklet put out by Pat Pulling herself. Read and weep, or laugh, or something, here:


  1. That dragon on the cover is straight out of Peter Dickinson's book "The Flight of Dragons". I wonder if she had permission to use that illustration (even in badly xeroxed form).

  2. I remember very clearly in 1981 my HS English teacher demanded that I see the school counselor then called in my parents to meet with me, her, the counselor, and the AP and pleaded with my parents- with actual tears in her eyes - to have me see a psychiatrist before I killed myself. My father, thunderstruck, asked her why.
    She said,
    "He plays.... DUNGEONS & DRAGONS!!"
    My father erupted into guffaws, the AP snickered, and I was transferred to a new English class.
    The panic was real, it really affected a few of us, and it was *really weird*.

    1. I had my taste of the Satanic Panic in the early 1990s.

      It is really weird, it can be both humorous and frightening at the same time. It's humorous because you know the truth, but frightening because these are figures with some authority and they want to take care of you.

      It like, what do you do when somebody obviously is concerned for you, but they just don't have the facts straight? Tell them that they're wrong? Then they won't believe you anyway, because you're under D&D's "spell."


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