Having lived through the 80s the first time, I can tell you that the nostalgia for that decade started circa ’91. Still in high school, we were fondly recalling our near-past via Duran Duran’s Decade and the Miami Vice soundtrack. That these were played primarily on cassette in various K-cars probably goes without saying.
Harking back to the imagined perils of his own heyday — and sounding very much like he’s in a permanent fugue state — the good reverend has recently decided to restart one of that benighted time’s silliest crusades: combating the satanic roots of teen malfeasance, particularly suicide. Bonus: Dungeons & Dragons gets a mention (boy that takes me back).
Here’s Robertson having at it during a recent 700 Club (yup, still on the air) segment on mental health and suicide in young people:
“Ladies and gentlemen, our children are at risk. […] There’s all kinds of demonic games they play. It used to be ‘Dungeons & Dragons.’ They’ve got some new ones now. The pressure on them is just incredible.”
The spirit of the PMRC lives!
This issue has been studied more than most questions in sociology. And the evidence favors the view that games, regardless of their violent or fantastical elements, do not make young people into self-murdering sociopaths. I won’t pretend the issue isn’t divisive amongst thoughtful and well-intentioned researchers, though I will offer that if one wants to think clearly about it, Pat Robertson in high dudgeon might not be the most fruitful source of data.
And it’s too easy to forget what can happen when this kind of unfounded hysteria breaks through the fences of Crazytown and infects the general population. Backed by our most primitive fears of the devil and his minions, families like the Amiraults in Massachusetts had their lives ripped apart by some who ignored data and still others who abused it. The road to that particular hell is paved not with good intentions but with the stolen liberties of railroaded innocents.
But surely we’re wiser now as a culture, right? Let’s hope. At any rate, with all the ills in the world to lament it’s good to know that people can still get worked up about the classics. If only Zappa were still around to spar with them (and with our feeble congress).
Today, Robertson is a relatively minor figure in his own movement. CBN long ago started taking the brand past him with initiatives like 700 Club Interactive and international editions.
That said — and even with the likes of Westboro Baptist Church around hogging all the bad press — ol’ Pat’s still a reliable source of pitch-black lulz: check out his recent rants on the Boy Scouts, Tim Tebow, how tornado victims don’t pray enough, and why it’s your fault your husband cheated on you.
P.S.: This high school kid from the mid-90s had the data — and sensible conclusion — that eludes Robertson et al even today.