The media has long been a central part of the sociological phenomenon known as ‘Moral Panic’.
According to Key Concepts in Communication (O’Sullivan, Fiske et al 1983)
“Moral panics then, are those processes whereby members of a society and culture become ‘morally sensitized’ to the challenges and menaces posed to ‘their’ accepted values and ways of life, by the activities of groups defined as deviant. The process underscores the importance of the mass media in providing, maintaining and ‘policing’ the available frameworks and definitions of deviance, which structure both public awareness of, and attitudes towards, social problems.”
Moral Panics in the media can formally be broken down into 3 stages
1. Occurrence and signification
An event occurs and, because of its nature, the media decide it is worthy of dramatic coverage (“Full Colour Pics of Satanic Abuse Site”, “Razorblade Found In Babyfood”, “Terrorist Cell plot attack” etc) and the event is signified as a violent, worrying one.
2. Wider social implications (fanning the flames)
Connections are made between one event and the wider malaise of society as a whole. After the initial event, the life of the story is extended through the contributions of ‘expert’ opinionmakers, who establish that this one event is just the tip of the iceberg, and that it is part of an overall pattern which constitutes a major social menace (“Child abuse figures on the up” “Safety concerns at babyfood packing plants”,”Youth Groups targeted by Extremists” etc etc). Thus public attention is focused on the issues.
3. Social Control
Moral panics seek some sort of resolution and this often comes with a change in the law, designed to further penalise those established as the threatening deviants at the source of the panic (“New clampdown on devil-worshippers”. “Strict New Safety Controls on Babyfood”, “Hate Groups Banned”). This satisfies the public who feel they are empowered politically by the media.
Recently, I saw a news from internet, it’s talk about film KONY 2012.
Kony 2012 is a film created by Invisible Children, Inc. which became a viral video. The film’s purpose is to promote the charity’s ‘Stop Kony’ movement to make indicted Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony internationally known in order to arrest him in 2012.
The film has spread virally. As of 9 March 2012 (2012 -03-09)[update], the film currently has over 16.1 million views on Vimeo, and over 70 million views on video-sharing website YouTube, with other viewing emanating from a central “Kony2012” website operated by Invisible Children. The intense exposure of the video caused the “Kony 2012” website to crash shortly after it began gaining widespread popularity. The video has also seen a number of celebrities endorsing the campaign including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Christina Milian, Nicki Minaj, Bill Gates and Kim Kardashian. On April 20, 2012, as part of the campaign, supporters will put up posters promoting Kony 2012 in their home towns. Invisible Children offers posters from an online shop in an attempt to gain wider recognition on the issue. They have also created action kits that include campaign buttons, posters, bracelets, and stickers to help spread awareness.
Joseph Kony (pronounced IPA: [koɲ]; born c. 1961) is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While initially enjoying strong public support, the LRA turned brutally on its own supporters, supposedly to “purify” the Acholi people and turn Uganda into a theocracy ruled by the Ten Commandments.
The LRA is a militant group, with an extreme religious ideology that is a syncretic mix of mysticism, Acholi nationalism and Christianity, known for the atrocities it commits against civilians, including murder, mutilations, rape, and in some accounts even cannibalism.
Directed by Kony, the LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Sudan. It has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has forced the internal displacement of over two million people since its rebellion began in 1986.
In 2005 Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, but has evaded capture.
Kony received a surge of attention in early March 2012 when a thirty-minute documentary titled Kony 2012 by film maker Jason Russell for the campaign group Invisible Children Inc was released. The intention of the production is to draw attention to Kony in an effort to increase United States involvement in the issue. Michael Geheren, blogger for The Huffington Post, commented: “The 27-minute video was posted on Vimeo and YouTube by Invisible Children and became a worldwide trending topic on the Internet. Personally, I have never seen an outpour of support from people on my Facebook news feed like this.” More than 70 million viewings of the YouTube video have been reported.
The Daily Telegraph pointed out that the film has quickly received attention from celebrities. Elizabeth Flock, writer for the Washington Post, offered more background on the LRA as well as Invisible Children in response to the documentary. Flock and The Toronto Star stated that Invisible Children hoped to raise Kony’s notoriety enough to provoke a massive overnight poster campaign, planned for April 20, 2012.
Kony, I think it should a words about moral panic nowadays. The other day, I saw a news about The Invisible Children charity has been focused on obtaining the support of a select group of individuals in order to “help bring awareness to the horrific abuse and killing of children in the East and Central African countries at the hands of Kony and his leadership”. This list included 20 “celebrity culture makers”, such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, and Ryan Seacrest.
The list also featured 12 “policy makers” that have “the power to keep U.S. government officials in Africa” in order to work toward the capture of Kony. This list includes former U.S. President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (although their administration pursued a policy of hostility towards the International Criminal Court), and U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry.
The eyes of the world gathered here.