Back to the Future: Pat Robertson’s D&D Scare Flashback

Save vs. disbelief.

Pat Robertson, former Southern Baptist minister, Chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and erstwhile presidential candidate, had this to say last week about the latest blight on America: Dungeons & Dragons.

Wait — Dungeons & Dragons? Yes, D&D is back. And it’s more evil than before.

This would be amusing, if it wasn’t so scary.

Once again, from the front lines or bowels of pop culture, we find another freak out by those who are clueless. No, it’s not violent video games that are poisoning the minds (or loins) of America’s youth. Nor is it the Internet, or texting, or sexting, or Facebook or Twitter. Nor is it rap, or hip hop, or raves, or Oxycontin, or punk, or comic books, or Pixie Stix, or Pop Rocks.

Worse: D&D. That old-fashioned game of dice and graph paper and demonic possession.

It’s as if Robertson was encased in carbonite back in 1980, only to be thawed out by a benevolent Boba Fett three decades later. As if Roberston’s never even heard of Call of Duty, let alone Harry Potter or Pac-Man. And magically, still dripping wet from the dry ice and experiencing the brain freeze of a lifetime, he keeps jabbering away on his show The 700 Club, about magic and evil and the occult, and D&D which, in his words, “it was, like, demonic.” (Yes, he actually, like, said, “like.”) “Stay away from it,” is his advice, in 2013.

jack_chick_dark_dungeons

Jack Chick’s infamous 1984 anti-D&D comic book, “Dark Dungeons.” Ooh. Scary. (Image: Chick Publications)

Oh how I miss it. The supposed “dangers” of D&D back in its heyday, the 1980s. Its comparison to dancing, rock and roll, horror comics, and heavy metal music. The disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III and the TV movie Mazes and Monsters that capitalized on this new dangerous phenomenon that Robertson says, in 2013, “literally destroyed peoples’ lives.” (Thankfully, D&D also helped launch Tom Hanks’ career.)

Ah … remember Jack Chick’s anti-D&D comic book tract Dark Dungeons? Gary Gygax defending D&D on 60 Minutes in 1985?  In the immortal, time-traveling words of Huey Lewis and the News:

Tell me, doctor
Where are we goin’ this time?
Is this the 50’s, or 1999?

But we can’t have those days back. Not unless you are Pat Roberston, who still seems traumatized by all the teens he failed to save back in the Reagan Administration.

Ethan Gilsdorf

About Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, teacher and 17th level geek. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Gilsdorf writes regularly for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, BoingBoing.net, PsychologyToday.com, Washington Post and wired.com. He has published hundreds of articles, essays, op-eds and reviews on the arts, pop culture, gaming, geek culture and travel in dozens of other magazines, newspapers, websites and guidebooks worldwide. He has also published dozens of poems in literary magazines and anthologies. He is a core contributor to the blogs "GeekDad, "Geek Pride" on PsychologyToday.com, and Boston NPR affiliate WBUR's Cognoscenti blog. He is also a book and film critic for the Boston Globe, and is the film columnist for Art New England. He and author Noble Smith geek out and wax nostalgic about D&D and other nerdy pop culture relics at Dungeons & Dorkwards. He is a lover of ELO and a hater of littering. Sometimes he wears a tunic and chainmail, or these grampy pants. More info fantasyfreaksbook.com or follow on Facebook fantasyfreaksbook

Ethan Gilsdorf

About Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, teacher and 17th level geek. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Gilsdorf writes regularly for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, BoingBoing.net, PsychologyToday.com, Washington Post and wired.com. He has published hundreds of articles, essays, op-eds and reviews on the arts, pop culture, gaming, geek culture and travel in dozens of other magazines, newspapers, websites and guidebooks worldwide. He has also published dozens of poems in literary magazines and anthologies. He is a core contributor to the blogs "GeekDad, "Geek Pride" on PsychologyToday.com, and Boston NPR affiliate WBUR's Cognoscenti blog. He is also a book and film critic for the Boston Globe, and is the film columnist for Art New England. He and author Noble Smith geek out and wax nostalgic about D&D and other nerdy pop culture relics at Dungeons & Dorkwards. He is a lover of ELO and a hater of littering. Sometimes he wears a tunic and chainmail, or these grampy pants. More info fantasyfreaksbook.com or follow on Facebook fantasyfreaksbook

5 thoughts on “Back to the Future: Pat Robertson’s D&D Scare Flashback

  1. I laughed out loud. Thankfully I went through the 80s without my parents worrying one bit about the dangers of D&D.

    Oh, and I have a first edition Mazes & Monsters hardback from Jaffe… bought it hoping to one day get her to sign it. The movie was horrible, but it did have Hanks in it. So glad I didn’t go crazy and end up in a mental institute where I couldn’t distinguish reality from fantasy.

    • Wow, Pat Robertson is still alive?!? Geez, I remember all that “D&D leads to Satanism” stuff back I was playing D&D and other RPGs back in the early 80s. Heavy Metal supposedly led to Satanism too I think…and suicide. At least that’s what Tipper and Al Gore told us back then. I disagree with the author on only one thing. It IS amusing in its absolute ridiculousness, it IS NOT scary in the least bit.

      Back in the day it resulted in a few extensive and vigorous “discussions” with the kids with more Fundamentalist parents and a few teachers, but ultimately to no real effect. Those of us that wanted to play, we played it. One friend lied to his very religious mom about it and kept his gaming stuff out our house, but thats about it. But that was really his problem to deal with his parents, there were plenty of other things they didn’t want him doing that he lied about too, not just D&D. It’s what teens do, right? :)

      Pat Robertson can spout off whatever crazy advice he wants to give, I don’t care. I don’t seek advice from crazy guys like Pat. Anyone that actually asks him for advice or takes his advice…well, clearly they are in the market for that kind of crazy so I guess they are getting what they want. Me, I’m shaking my head, rolling my eyes and rolling my dice.

  2. Pingback: Morning Cuppa – World Book Night! Scapple! Demons at the dinner table! | Nathan Hall

  3. “There are other games you can play” i.e., go play pinochle, B!TCH

    It’s not surprising to see that those attitudes and the ignorance behind them have not changed.

    Oh well… Everyone needs a crusade, I suppose.

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