Satan Wears Spandex: A Look Back at the Absurdity of the Satanic Panic

When did Ozzy Osbourne become public enemy number one? How did Dungeons & Dragons threaten national security? And why did everyone fear a kid with a Metallica t-shirt and way too much hairspray?

The image is a scene from the TV show "Stranger Things," which is inspired by the 1980s Satanic Panic. It features a character making a playful face with his tongue out and giving the "devil horns" hand gesture, a common symbol in rock and metal music culture. The character is wearing a denim jacket over a t-shirt with a logo that reads "Hell Club" and a striking graphic design, capturing the essence of '80s youth and the era's heavy metal influence.
Stranger Things (Satanic Panic inspiration)

Ah, the 1980s – a decade of questionable fashion, even more questionable haircuts, and the unshakeable belief that legions of pale, black-clad youths were opening portals to hell with every guitar riff. Remember the Satanic Panic? I certainly do. Frankly, if the whole ‘corrupting the children’ thing didn’t work out for Satan, he should have strongly considered a career in stand-up comedy.

Picture this: worried parents hunched over their turntables, desperately trying to decipher the “true” meaning behind a Twisted Sister song played in reverse. Were they actually hearing “Join us” or was it just Dee Snider with a blocked nose? Televangelists, bless their righteous hearts, frothing at the mouth, seeing pentagrams in Iron Maiden album covers where the rest of us just saw a slightly creepy-looking mascot named Eddie. It was a golden age of absurdity, folks.

If you thought your favorite metal band was dangerous, you haven’t met a suburban mom armed with a cassette player and too much free time.

The sheer creativity that went into finding evil is awe-inspiring. Dungeons & Dragons? Clearly those dice were enchanted for summoning demons. Heavy metal concerts? Rituals disguised as rock shows, no doubt. Even those long-haired kids at the back of the bus sketching skulls in their notebooks – future high priests of the underworld, obviously.

Let’s be honest, the whole Satanic Panic was less about real demonic threats and more about bored adults who needed someone to blame for their kids’ questionable taste in music. Never mind that those “demonic” bands often sang about social issues, disillusionment, or sometimes, just wanting to party hard. No, no, the eyeliner was a dead giveaway – clearly, they were all in league with the Prince of Darkness.

Of course, this blame game had consequences. Musicians were dragged through court on the flimsiest of accusations, metal albums were given warning labels as if they were biohazards, and countless teenagers were demonized (sometimes literally) for simply liking a good headbanging session. It was the ultimate clash between pearl-clutching conservatism and a generation hungry for self-expression. Spoiler alert: the pearls were not victorious.

The Satanic Panic was a shining example of how easily we fall prey to mass hysteria. Instead of tackling real problems, we’d much rather chase imaginary ones. It seems fear will always be a great marketing tool, and a convenient distraction from the fact that the true monsters often wear suits, not studded leather jackets.

Today, we can look back and laugh at the absurdity of it all. But let’s not get too smug. While heavy metal may not currently be the target, our appetite for finding a scapegoat hasn’t changed. Whether it’s video games, rap music, or the latest social media craze, we’re always poised to wage war against the “corruptors” of our youth.

So, as we chuckle at those parents who thought Ozzy Osbourne was the Antichrist, let’s remember – before we point the finger, it’s worth doing a quick check to see if maybe, just maybe, the absurdity lies in the pointing itself.