Archive for the 'Moral Panic' Category



Scott Baio is Stoned and The Boy Who Drank Too Much (1980)

STONED 1980

BWDTM 1980

BWDTM 1980-2

1980 was a rough year for Scott Baio characters. If you recall, Chachi burned down Arnold’s as well!

I desperately want to watch these Afterschool Specials again, but only under the condition that I have too much to drink beforehand. Such is the legacy of moralizing fluff.

(Images via Randy Rodman/eBay)

The Life and Death of the Video Arcade

Big Daddy’s Amusement Center, Pinellas Park, Florida, 1983. (Weaver Tripp/St. Petersburg Times)

Once upon a time, Big Daddy’s “set no particular hours” and was often found open at 3:00am, thank you very much.

But in 1983 the wicked City Council, “upset about youngsters who loitered and caused trouble near the game arcade,” cast a surly spell over all the neighborhood kids in the form of an 11:00pm curfew.

Then, in 1986, a judge threw out 21 counts of curfew violation because prosecutors could not prove owner Bruce Houghton was in “direct control of the premises” when the citations were issued. Houghton, exiting the courthouse with a smirk, declared the curfew unconstitutional and vowed to continue breaking it.

Skip to 1998. Upon spying what was once Big Daddy’s, entrepreneur Ken Schwartz exclaimed, “The building is really a dump.” But he knew the area was ripe for redevelopment, so he bought the dump and “gutted Big Daddy’s to create the futuristically styled headquarters for his food service consulting company.”

Skip to 2006. What was once “a rather tacky strip that sported rundown mobile home parks, used-car dealerships and pawnshops with stuffed, costumed gorillas out front”—not to mention video arcades driven to extinction—is now “a throughway featuring national chains and upgraded commercial properties with high-end condominiums tucked behind.”

The End

(Image via Coots Imagery)

Chick Tracts: Dark Dungeons (1984)

Jack Chick started publishing what are now known as “Chick Tracts” in the early ’70s, and his lunatic company is still cranking them out today. I remember them circulating at school, scaring the shit out of all the kids—which was (and is) the whole point.

Dark Dungeons is actually pretty mild compared to the others, and it’s a perfect distillation of the hysteria surrounding D&D at the time. (You might also remember Mazes and Monsters, a 1982 TV movie starring Tom Hanks as an obsessed, possibly schizophrenic college student who starts to believe the game world is the real one.)

These are just a few panels. You can read the whole thing at Chick Publications.

DD-1

DD-2

DD-3

DD-4

DD-5

A 30-Year Ban on Video Games… in America

Photo: Kevin Twombly

Photo: Kevin Twombly

The photos above are from an unidentified 1983 story about a ban prohibiting the use of “any mechanical or electronic amusement device, whether coin-operated or not” in the coastal town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. (Exceptions were made for devices used in the home.) The ban, initially passed by a “smut”-conscious minority of residents in 1982 and immediately appealed by Marshfield business owners whose game cabinets were removed by police, was upheld the following year by the  Massachusetts Supreme Court.

It was upheld by Marshfield residents again in 1994 and one more time, by a vote of 655 to 544, in 2011. Apparently Marshfield doesn’t understand that (1) we live in a free country, and (2) it’s the 21st century and everyone is holding an “electronic amusement device.” Maybe they’ll ban iPhones next.

It’s like all those apocryphal stories of Japanese (or German) soldiers trapped on a deserted island for 20 years who, after getting rescued, refuse to believe that the war is over and their side lost. It’s also a real life version of Footloose, which might be even more desperately sad. Where’s Kevin Bacon on a tractor (or reciting applicable biblical verses) when you need him?

You can read about the original ban in the December 1983 issue of InfoWorld magazine. And check out the 2011 decision in The Patriot Ledger.

(Image source: Lexibell Vintage Photos)


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