Alan Carroll Media

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February 2016

Moral Panics – Judas, A Scary Lot

On the 23rd of December, 1985, two young men, Raymond Belknap, then 18, and James Vance, 20, had just finished a six-hour session of smoking marajuana and listening to heavy metal. At this point, seemingly out of nowhere, they wedged the door shut with a 2×4 and began thrashing the room. The two then climbed out the window, not before grabbing a 12-guage shotgun.
It was near dusk now, as the two boys ran down the alley behind Ray’s house and climbed a six-foot wall that lead to the yard of the Community First Church of God. It was there, on a small carousel in the corner of the courtyard, that Raymond Belknap shot himself in the head and was killed instantly. Vance attempted to follow suit, but survived the incident with horribly disfiguring injuries.
On looking through Belknap’s thrashed room, the only things left untouched were the record player and records. Including the one that was playing at the time of the incident, his brand new Judas Priest album.

The band were brought to court because the parents of the young men believed that, somehow the lyrics of the band’s album ‘Better By You, Better Than Me’ coerced them into taking their own lives. The court found that any artists’ lyrics are protected as free speech. After this, the prosecution changed tact and suggested that the band placed subliminal messages in the record.

It may seem like a stretch but, America was actually in the middle of another moral panic, the so-called ‘Satanic Panic’. This was a period in the eighties where fears of satanism and satanic cults were rife throughout America.

This was a period of great change in terms of popular culture. Teens were shunning their hippie parents’ sappy pop records in favour of harder, faster fare like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Judas Priest. Pop itself was getting more risque—Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince turned off the lights and turned up the sex. Family structure also changed dramatically as divorce rates surged and more women were working outside of the home. More and more children were being entrusted to daycare and babysitters which enhanced the feeling of a loss of control over their children’s behaviour and influences. Such an enourmous change caused christian parents to believe that it was the devil’s work.

In court, it was claimed that the band used a technique called backmasking to insert the subliminal messages. This is where a piece of audio, usually spoken words, is reversed and inserted into another piece. When played normally the sound seems just like noise, but if played backwards, the message is revealed. Phrases like ‘Try suicide’, Let’s be dead’ and ‘Do it’, were said to be backmasked into the record. In defense, guitarist Glenn Tipton brought the album into a studio in search of other phrases in the reversed music;

'Right away we found ‘Hey ma, my chair’s broken’ and ‘Give me a peppermint’ 
and ‘Help me keep a job.' - Glenn Tipton.

Ultimately, the court case was dismissed due to lack of evidence proving the efficacy of subliminal messaging. It’s almost impossible to say the real reason the two men took their own lives but, it could be a combination of factors. Their broken families, history of substance abuse and fascination with guns at an early age.

 “These two young men lost their lives because of their tragic involvement in drugs and alcohol and dysfunctional family units in which they weren’t given proper care, attention or guidance. I’m not making light of a tragic situation, but this trial was just an attempt to shift the burden of guilt to someone else’s shoulders. - Rob Halford, Lead singer, Judas Priest


References (Reposted at


Hashtag #Politics

As I was looking through my constituency’s candidates and their social media presences, I actually struggled to find someone who used social media regularly or even had a presence at all. The two most active that I found were Peadar Tóibín of Sinn Féin and Seamus McMenamin of the Green Party.

Tóibín’s Twitter feed comes across as very critical of the current government. Most of the tweets I came across were attacks on government policies. There are a few retweets of the SF twitter feed with info on their own policies but the rest feels like an attempt to unite voters against a common enemy rather than the common good.

McMenamin on the other hand shows a more positive viewpoint. His feed feels more welcoming, helped possibly by the fact that he is a first time candidate. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of the government today, he promotes the positive aspects of his policies and even throws in a bit of self-deprecating humour.

I think I’d prefer to follow McMenamin’s feed rather than Tóibín’s because, if a candidate spends most of their time bashing their opponents rather than suggesting a better course of action, it feels like they don’t really have any good ideas of their own.

The effect of multitasking on- SQUIRREL!!!

In our Professional Issues in Creative Multimedia class, we watched this talk given by Daniel Levitin on Information Overload

One of the things that stood out to me is that he didn’t have a PowerPoint presentation or any graphics, yet I found myself being able to pay attention to what he was saying. He made some very good points on multitasking and how studies show it doesn’t really exist and can be detrimental to productivity.

I’m almost never just doing one thing at a time. If I’m working on college assignments, I usually have Facebook open in another tab or have my headphones in listening to music or podcasts. (Which, I’m guilty of doing right now as I write this post). I realise that this might not be the best way of getting things done but, the thing is, I can’t focus in complete silence. Without something playing in the background, my mind just wanders in daydreams. The same daydreams that got me into trouble when I was in school. The sam daydreams that, I hope, one day will help me in my creative career.

I don’t really see this as multitasking because I don’t really pay attention  to the thing that’s playing in the background. Often, I’ll hear something completely random and out of context come up in a podcast that I have on and wonder how the conversation reached that topic. Then I’ll realise that I haven’t been listening for the past twenty minutes because I was so wrapped up in work.


Culture. Once you pop, you can’t stop.

Popular culture, for me, has always been a rather fluid concept. I tend to go through ‘phases’ of consuming different forms of culture. How I interact with culture is represented in what I do in y down time. For a while, I could be constantly listening to music and then slowly transition to binge watching TV shows. After that, I could be ploughing through the unread books on my shelf.

Right now, I am transitioning from TV shows to movies. This could be the fact that, as TV shows go on, there is a law of diminishing returns. That is, there are only so many ways you can tell the same story well. Watching multiple episodes in one sitting tends to reveal these weaknesses. Whereas, with movies, each one is it’s own story told with originality. Every element of the movie making process adds a different spin on the story or the look of the film; writing, directing, cinematography etc.

I suppose these phases can be summed up as, ‘Do I want variety or do I want to stay in the same world with the same characters for a while?’

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