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June 20, 2010

Fear of the Devil in the 1980's and Today

Anyone watching TV in the 1980's remembers the Satanic Panic commercialized by the media. Unable to understand the changing trends in culture, blame went to the devil and his "followers". Maybe it was the end of the Cold War and Reagan-era conservatism or maybe it was Heavy Metal music and Horror movies, but back then you could hardly go a day without seeing some overly sensationalized tabloid headline that spoke about shocking satanic rituals, or childhood sexual abuse tied to devil worship. Reports of the latter would later prove to be false, since no evidence was ever found and the only cases reported were the result of so-called repressed memories recovered through hypnosis. Personally, I think all this only made some people more fascinated with "the dark side", and to speak against the devil in society was a way to show this fascination. It also gave society a scapegoat to place blame on when easy answers couldn't be found elsewhere.

Let's see a few cases of how the daytime TV gods covered this:

1. 20/20 "The Devil Worshippers" 1985
2. Oprah Winfrey "Witchcraft" 1986
3. Geraldo Rivera "Witchcraft" 1986
4. Oprah Winfrey "Satanic Worship" 1988 [aired on Ash Wednesday]
5. Larry King "Satanism" 1988
6. Sally Jesse Rafael "Satanism" 1988
7. Geraldo Rivera "Devil Worship, Exposing Satan's Underground" 1988 (video excerpt above)
8. Geraldo Rivera "Of Drugs, Death, and the Devil" 1989

The trend continued in a minor way through the 90's, and peaked when Marilyn Manson (who is not a Satanist) came on the scene in the mid-late 1990's till the time he was blamed for the Columbine Massacre in 2000.

On September 11, 2001 America began to find a new enemy and scapegoat - Religion. Especially the form of religion that was fear-based and fundamentalist. The tides turned, a new rehashed cycle began and the trend continues.