Moral Panics – BCM 215 Contextual Report

The Idea and the Pitch

In my pitch I outlined my interest in the phenomena known as moral panics. A concept which found to have clear and direct links to game media. I wanted to explore the moral panics which were at the forefront of social and mainstream media  at the moment. I decided to compliment this by looking at previous moral panics and wanted expand further by exploring how moral panics may come to be in the future. 

In my pitch I outlined the preliminary research I had done and used that to decide on a an analytical framework I could use to tackle the topic. More on that a bit later. What was important to note in my initial research was the foundations of term moral panic actually came after its first instances. I learn that while the term was coined in the 60s instances of the theory dated back as far as the 17th century. The utility of the project planned  to provide an objective look at the effects of video games particularly on young children. I think the audience who will find my DA most informative are parents.

In my pitch I noted several different plans on how I could present my findings. I spoke about potentially doing a video series, a podcast series or a written blog. I landed on in the end a 3 part video series. 

The Analytical Framework 

The analytical framework which I decided on in the end after some minor changes was ‘media archaeology’, ‘participatory media’ and ‘narratology’. Like I originally planned I intertwined my analytical framework with the themes of past present and future. 

Media Archaeology

Media Archeology can be basically defined as the researching and analysing of media texts and materials by exploring the historical context of said media. It’s a research methodology which has continued to rise to prominence since its roots in the late 1800s when Walter Benjamin wrote essays like ‘On the Concept of History’ and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Both these essays articulate the thoughts and analysis which has emerged from the ‘rubble’ of media. Media archeology is grounded by this concept. 

As a part of my digital artefact I examine how we can use media archaeology as a theory to analyse this particular historical moral panic as means of understanding more broadly how moral panics are formed. To successfully do so we must

Participatory Media

Participatory media includes the likes of blogs, podcasts, media sharing sites, wikis and so on. In this instance I’ll be looking at the participatory elements of the theory moral panic. I believe these elements to be social media platforms like Facebook, instagram, reddit etc. I want to look at how these platforms have contributed to the exacerbation of the moral panics which we see surrounding game culture today. 

Narratology 

Narratology is a theory which has a dichotomous relationship with ludology. It is is the study of the structure of narratives and how that structure can influence human perception. By taking a narrative based approach we assume audiences as active participants as opposed to passive media consumers. 

In my video essay I look at how we can use media archaeology as a theory to analyse this particular historical moral panic as means of understanding more broadly how moral panics are formed. To successfully do so we must

What I set out to Achieve

I set out to accomplish a 3 video essays 

presenting my findings in the form of several video essays. One which will look at the a high profile moral panic from the past, the current moral panic surrounding fortnight and what picture each of these case studies paint for the future of games and society’s reaction.  These will be posted on the 29th Aug, 19th Sep and 10th Oct

What I achieved

I was unable to achieve the four series video plan I originally set out to achieve. I did however manage to complete one succinct video which detailed and expanded on all that I wanted to research initially. 

What I learnt

In the construction of my digital artefact I learnt a large array of theoretical knowledge as well as gaining an understanding of how to explore a topic using a tri-analytical framework to explore a topic.

Some of my main findings on Moral Panics themselves were…

  • The term was officially coined by Stanley Cohen in the late 1960s. 
  • Moral Panic theory was created as a part of Cohen’s analysis of the social reaction to the confrontations between two youth subcultures. 
  • Since then, the theoretical framework which encompasses the term ‘moral panic’ has continued to evolve. As a result we are learning more and more about why real and important social problems come to be constructed in the media as moral panics. And thus spread, often what is, unjustified fear about often unrelated topics, media, peoples and/or culture. 
  • Since the terms founding in the 1960s, moral panics continue to have their hold on societies. Famous moral panics which have captivated society since then include but are not limited to: The War on Drugs, The Devil’s Music, HIV/AIDS, War on Terror and QAnon. 
  • Further, among these examples, game media while not the founding reason that the theory ‘moral panic’ came into fruition, does take up its fair share of the case studies surrounding the topic. 

I also think that but examine a large scale of sources was helpful in gaining a better understanding of what I was exploring. The process while, incredibly time consuming (even more so than I thought), was beneficial in adding some validity to the my digital artefact. 

Summary

I’m happy with the end result of my Digital Artefact, despite it not it being to the standard that I had originally hoped. Moral Panics were always an interesting topic for me and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to explore them. I think that manner in which I did so and the analytical framework which I implemented complemented my topic well despite the medium not being a perfect fit for the message. 

See my digital artefact here

Resources

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27620071

https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/arts-and-culture/the-moral-panic-over-fortnite-and-the-purpose-of-play-20190807-p52evc

https://www.smh.com.au/technology/moral-panic-over-fortnite-is-misplaced-20180615-p4zlra.html

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/16/fortnite-video-game-addictive-children-tech

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-18748-015

https://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/MIDDMedia/Narratology_in_game_studies

https://oxfordre.com/criminology/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264079-e-155#acrefore-9780190264079-e-155-div1-2

https://www.thoughtco.com/moral-panic-3026420

https://www.academia.edu/4593752/Of_Women_and_Witches_A_Case_Study_in_Moral_Panics

http://gamestudies.org/1302/articles/nooney

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9789048532094-008/html?lang=en

http://mediacartographies.blogspot.com/2010/11/on-ruins-benjamin.html

https://www.jstor.org/stable/44956015

https://www.aup.nl/en/book/9789462980570/film-history-as-media-archaeology

https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1123&context=honors_proj

https://www.vox.com/culture/22358153/satanic-panic-ritual-abuse-history-conspiracy-theories-explained

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