As part of the American Library Association’s celebration of Banned Books Week, which is taking place from Sept. 21-27, BAD FOR YOU authors Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham will be presenting two special slide show readings at local libraries, detailing the dark days in this country when comic books were once burned! That’s right, comics were thought to be corrupting kids in the 1940s and 50s! And guess what, grown-ups are still trying to ban comics today!!!
In fact, BAD FOR YOU has a whole chapter on the kinds of reading materials that adults were once afraid of kids partaking in—including fears from ancient times about reading itself! Also included will be examples of scary old fairy tales and the secret to why Harry Potter books keep getting banned (hint, it has something to do with the devil).
The Banned Book Week presentations seem especially appropriate this year given that the ALA is focusing on censorship issues around comics and graphic novels. “We want to publicize the many events being organized around the country during Banned Books Week,” said Judy Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week Executive Committee, “to show the collective voice that is speaking out against censorship.”
The country is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act this year, but on the other side of freedom, there’s another important anniversary to acknowledge as well: “On this day, in 1954, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency was closing out a second day of hearings.”
And, of course, one of the key speakers during the investigation was Dr. Fredric Wertham, who’s testimony before the committee helped to sway the senators to recommend the adoption of the comic book code, the self-imposed censorship that lead to the demise of much of the horror and crime comics from that period. What it didn’t lead to, though, was a decrease in juvenile delinquency. The numbers didn’t start to decline until the 1990s! The comic book code officially ended in 2012.
There has not been an increase in youth crime since the code was lifted.
In honor of this special day, we are reprinting our map of the comic book burning in America from the 1940s & 50s.
The “Studies in Crap” department at the Village Voice has a great post about Patricia Pulling’s 1989 moral panic book on the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons, ” The Devil’s Web.” Our favorite line from the commentary: “Note that there’s only three steps between enjoying Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and literal graverobbing. Seriously, if graverobbing becomes a “behavior pattern” the problem is probably your parenting.” Check it out (HERE)
And in case you want to discourage personality traits that would make your child vulnerable, look out for these:
We here at Bad For You are big fans of Boing Boing so it is especially exciting that they have posted the techno-panic timeline from Bad For You: Exposing the War on Fun. It is especially good timing in anticipation of our January 7th release date!
Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous?
WHY IT WAS FUN: Hey, everyone loves zombies – just look how many movies and TV shows feature the creatures. In this particular video game, the really cool part was that it turned the whole horror genre around by letting the player become the brain-munching monster, roaming the city, hunting humans. Stubbs was also one of the first horror games to use humor as part of the action – leading to what the game’s creator called “funny results.”
WHY IT WAS BAD: According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, Stubbs was encouraging cannibalism in kids! “It’s something we’ve never seen before,” NIMF told a crowd at their 2005 press conference to announce their annual “Games to Avoid” that year. Stubbs supposedly send “the worst kind of message to kids” and was “dangerous to your children’s health.” While the organization never had the power to actually ban a video game, for 15 years NIMF would post the list a few weeks before Christmas, hoping to scare parents away from purchasing them as gifts for their kids.Over a hundred video games made NIMF’s “Games to Avoid” over the years, some of which were super popular, including Doom, Grand Theft Auto and Halo. All these games mentioned so far were rated M for Mature. Which means they’re for 17-year-olds and not kids – so what exactly was NIMF so worked up about? By the way, the group dis-banned in 2009. Ho-Ho-Ho.
OK, maybe just a little comment: we know some people think these things are “Bad For You” but THIS bad!?
OOPS! Looks like it’s correction time here at BAD FOR YOU. After a little checking around, it seems this sign has been debunked! Which just goes to show you, you can’t believe everything you see on the internet (a point we make many times in the book).
As followers of this blog may know, Tor.com has been excerpting chapters from the forthcoming book BAD FOR YOU (releasing January 7th) as part of Banned Book Week. Now that the “celebration” is over, today’s offering at Tor features a section on gaming and is a bit more downbeat than previous ones. This excerpt focuses on how a pair of tragic events led to a moral panic about the Satanic power of Dungeons and Dragons. Since the original panic was over 30 years ago, we’ve decided to post some Youtube clips on just how silly the situation got back then. First off, does Dungeons and Dragons encourage human sacrifice?
If the process of just how D & D ensnares souls is as blurry to you as that video, it is all laid out in graphic black and white by Jack Chick in his Christian comic:
Hard to believe how scared people used to be about D & D. At least those crazy days are behind us. No one has mentioned how the game could “literally destroyed peoples’ lives.” Actually, that’s a direct quote from Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club, which claims “approximately one million viewers” daily. A quote from this summer!
So stay away! Far away! Dungeons and Dragons is definitely BAD FOR YOU.
But if you find these warnings unconvincing and even laughable, it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be laughing alone given that comedians Stephen Colbert, Mike Meyers, Matt Groening, Rainn Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Robin Williams, David Cross and Weird Al Yanjovic are all either past or current players of D and D.
And because every claim can use a little evidence, here ours: Stephen Colbert did gave a tribute to D & D co-creator Gary Gygax at the end of The Colbert Report the day after Gygax passed away, March 5th, 2008. “Gary you will be missed,” Colbert said, then asked, “How much…?” Before he answered, he rolled a d20.
“20! May all your prismatic sprays bypass your targets’ Reflex saving throws.”
There’s a lot of scary claims out there about video games: that they’re too violent, that they turn kids antisocial, that they’re just plain BAD FOR YOU. But if you’re a gamer who would like to address those claims for yourself, the National Coalition Against Censorship would like to listen. And watch. The NCAC has a new film contest and the theme is “Video Games in the Crosshairs.”
So here it is, a chance for you, the ones who actually play the games, to voice your opinion in a creative and fun way. Deadline for submission is December 13th. It’s free to enter and the top three winners receive cash prizes. Money! For more video games!!! Must be 19 or under to apply. The first place winner will received a free one-week digital filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy, plus a $5,000 scholarship toward any one-, two-, or three-year NYFA program .