The Satanic Panic never actually went away.
We associate it with its heyday in the 1980s but it had its origins in the '60s and '70s, probably even earlier than that. The rigidly White, patriarchal, and Christian social structures that dominated American society for decades started to crack apart with the rise of the Civil Rights movement, feminism, and the beginnings of the Gay Rights Movement, and mainstream Christianity watched their influence slowly shrinking -- and anything that made Christianity weaker must have been because of the Devil, right? Charles Manson, the Zodiac Killer, Son of Sam, and other serial killers claimed to be inspired by Satan, and popular films like "The Exorcist," "The Omen," and "Rosemary's Baby" -- along with the rush of copycat movies and novels that followed -- had half the country convinced Satan was real and was probably whupping God's omnipotent butt.
Once the '80s hit, America's fears of the occult snowballed into a full moral panic. Churches burned Dungeons & Dragons books and every pop, rock, and rap record they could get their hands on. People imagined global Satanist child sacrifice cults and even prosecuted -- and convicted -- innocent people on nonexistent evidence. The police and media fanned the flames, exaggerated every case, and even invented evidence, all in pursuit of either exciting convictions or boffo ratings.
By the late '90s, it was obvious the panic was absolute bullshit. Juries had convicted people of literally impossible crimes based on nothing more than toddlers' imaginations. All that Satanic heavy metal got old enough -- and safe enough -- to appear on oldies radio stations. Roleplaying games turned out to be fun and, most importantly, profitable.
The true believers went underground. But the Panic never really went away. It got its chance to re-emerge just a few years ago, this time calling itself Qanon. The new panic discarded even the thin logic of the Satanic Panic in favor of absolute surreality. Every celebrity and politician rapes and murders children. They are then executed by the secret good guys and replaced with robot clones. The robot clones are also executed and replaced by more robot clones. Pizza recipes are secret child murder codes. John F. Kennedy, Jr. faked his death to fight the Deep State. Vaccines contain mind-control nanites and are designed to kill anyone who had one. Vaccines also make it impossible, somehow, for the dead to go to Heaven. Lizard people rule the Earth. The news is fake. The weather is fake. Snow is fake. Rainbows are fake. The sky is fake. Everything is fake, and only Trump speaks Truth.
The '80s Satanic Panic had a strong focus on horror. It wore its '70s horror film influences on its sleeves and was deeply concerned with Satanism and child sacrifice, as well as horror movies, heavy metal, the supposed demonic powers of D&D, and anything decorated with skulls. The Panic in America also made its way across the Atlantic, inspiring the panic about Video Nasties. Qanon has been less concerned with horror, with most adherents being fixated on much kookier delusions like adrenochrome harvesting, the evils of Tom Hanks, and the Earth being flat.
It's interesting that neither panic focused much energy on Halloween. Attempts to ban Halloween are rare, generally pushed by isolated fundamentalist or evangelical churches. Attempts to reduce or control trick-or-treating have been a bit more successful; fears about poisoned candy and razor-bladed apples, along with bizarre claims that drug dealers are disguising hard drugs as kids' candy, are really, really popular with the police.
But Halloween is well liked by everyone, and it makes billions of dollars for retailers every year, so the Satanic Panic paid minimal attention to Halloween, and Qanon ignores it almost entirely. And nowadays, a lot of the taboo of horror is fading, and horror movies and books make plenty of money for studios and publishers.
And of course, the best revenge on these authoritarian loons is that their delusional ranting makes everyone assume Satanists aren't taking over their lives, leaving us free to work our titanic evils on the world! Now everyone get busy distributing the cursed Silver Shamrock masks to the kids in your neighborhood!
It's that time of year again. Let's try to scare each other.
Write an original scary story. Write a horror-themed poem. Node a story that is in the public domain. Write a factual writeup that is about horror or scary stuff. Write a biography of a writer or actor closely associated with the horror genre. Create a review of a horror film or story. It can be any length and any topic -- as long as it's scary.
What's the runtime for the Quest? The entire month of October, plus November 1, server time. Halloween is too awesome to limit to just one day a year.
If you need inspiration, or if you just want to see some more of the scary stories that Everythingians have produced, check out our previous horror quests: I can make you howl. And vice versa. Let's get down to business., Everything Quests: Scary Stories, The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, They Hunger For Nodes: An e2 Halloween Scary Story Quest, I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Text: The 2005 Halloween Horrorquest, It's the Season for Graves Cracking: The 2006 Quest for Fear (a deleted quest announcement, unfortunately), The Poet and the Worm, The Night's Plutonian Shore: The 2007 Halloween Horrorquest, Necronodecon: The 2008 Halloween Horrorquest, Pickman's Nodegel: The 2009 Halloween Horrorquest, Ten Years of Terror: The 2010 Halloween Horrorquest, The Nodegel from Yuggoth: The 2011 Halloween Horrorquest, Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest, 13 O'Clock: The 2013 Halloween Horrorquest, No More Room in Hell: The 2014 Halloween Horrorquest, In the Nodes of Madness: The 2015 Halloween Horrorquest, Grisly Ghouls from Every Tomb: The 2016 Halloween Horrorquest, We All Float Down Here: The 2017 Halloween Horrorquest, Tender Lumplings Everywhere: The 2018 Halloween Horrorquest, The Culture of Fear: The 2019 Halloween Horrorquest, Send More Paramedics: The 2020 Halloween Horrorquest, Behold a Pale Horse: The 2021 Halloween Horrorquest and Everything Is Going to Be Fine: The 2022 Halloween Horrorquest.
Again, the Quest will run for the entire month of October and November 1. If you post early or late -- too bad, so sad.
When you write a story for the Quest, just /msg me with the node title, then softlink your writeup to this node. I'll include a list of all the Quest participants below.
So start thinking horror, boils and ghouls. Halloween is coming. Let's scare each other.