The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Satanic panic has long encapsulated American society from the 1600s to the present day. At the moment, people have begun to blame demons and otherworldly phenomena on the Astroworld tragedy. If you are unfamiliar with this disaster, it happened on November 5, 2021; Travis Scott has held similar festivals to this one before this incident.
On the first day of this festival, after 9:30 pm, a crowd surge injured and killed multiple individuals, including minors. It did not take long for people to claim that Travis Scott’s concert was a Satanic Ritual, citing the eight flames while he was performing for eight lives that were senselessly taken that night among more apathetic, fictitious “evidence.” However, while seeing these outrageous claims, I remembered that is how some people choose to cope.
While we all think of the witch hunts from the 1600s when we hear the term Satanic panic, we have had far more recent cases in the United States. An instance is McCarthyism, which can be thought of as a modern-day witch hunt as Senator McCarthy frequently hunted for alleged communists and Soviet spies in multiple government organizations in the 1950s.
While many of the individuals that McCarthy claimed to be communists or secret agents were blacklisted and lost their jobs, it was proven that most were not what McCarthy proclaimed them to be. A few years before Senator McCarthy started his tirade, President Truman decided that all federal-service employees be screened about their loyalty, which meant that they did not wish to change our government nor support communist, fascist or totalitarian regimes. Immediately after, the Cold War started, so naturally, people would have some fear of communism due to the media coverage at that time.
There was a significant rise of actual Satanic Panic in the 1980s and 1990s as media began portraying deviant teenagers with goth aesthetics. Some big stories during this time were the Night Stalker, also known as Richard Ramirez, and the McMartin Preschool trial, both concerning Satanic worship. While both of the individuals in those cases are certainly mentally ill, people still blamed Satan. Some of you may be thinking that these cases are nothing alike, but they are very much based on the same mass hysteria.
Mass hysteria encapsulates all of these media-induced panics, including those from the past, such as Beast of Gévaudan. McCarthy manipulated the media to further his career; he gave the press sensationalist headlines to create hysteria and further divide the country behind the face of communism. However, with more recent cases such as Astroworld, we all have phones in our hands to capture our opinions and broadcast them to the world.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, some can cause mass hysteria with little to no actual evidence to back it up. I completely understand that the reason why some people do it is when others are murdered. However, coping this way serves no justice to those who were wronged. We cannot blame otherworldly beings for what was done, but we can hold other humans accountable for their evil actions.