In Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Stanley Cohen states moral panic occurs when “…[a] condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.” Moral panics are “extreme social responses to the belief that the moral condition of society is deteriorating at a rapid pace.”
Three major elements of a moral panic include 1) framing / the role of the media: amplifies and shapes public ideas of deviance, often reinforcing stereotypes, 2) the creation of a folk devil: a target stripped of favorable characteristics, often demonizing certain groups, and 3) policing / the development of new policies to “police the crisis“.
The documentary Bowling for Columbine examines the mass shooting as a catalyst for a moral panic. The following interview with singer Marilyn Manson discusses some of the elements of a moral panic, including framing and creation of a folk devil.
The documentary also discusses policing of students in schools, with calls for school uniforms and use of metal detectors.