You Can Panic Now
Announcer on P.A.: Attention zoo patrons! Clamu the Giant Oyster is on an emotional rampage! Please scream and run around in circles. Thanks for coming.
You can panic... now! Why? It's the ...
CONSUMPTION POLIO AIDS ANTHRAX MONKEY-POX SARS BIRD SWINE FLU! Wait. No, I meant ... GLOBAL WARMING! Takes too long to be scary? Oh, okay, Forget all that... It's actually ACID RAINing the SARS virus all over New York City because of a TERRORIST PLOT to assassinate UNWED TEENAGE MOTHERS using VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES, LSD ON SCHOOL PLAYGROUNDS, JENKEM, and CHILD ABDUCTION...
This one goes hand-in-hand with the Made for TV Movie. Whatever the latest media-induced paranoia is from crime to typhoons, we're going to get a show or special report about it. Think Everything Trying to Kill You applied to Real Life and you have the idea.
If it's about new technology, then expect Science Is Bad. If it's a new minority or subculture, then lock the doors and hide your daughters—it's the Freaks of the Week! Expecting volcanic eruptions in the midwest? Then it's likely a Disaster Movie. New diseases or health issues like high cholesterol and cancerous artificial sweetener? Then it's probably a Hallmark Channel Made for TV Movie about a Pollyanna and her family going through something truly Glurge-y.
See also: Axes At School, Disaster Movie, Sick, Sad Subculture of the Week, Glurge, If It Bleeds, It Leads, Murder Simulators, New Media Are Evil, Paedo Hunt, Ripped from the Headlines, Western Terrorists. Often involves a Clueless Aesop.
- This is such a common advertising trope that listing each occurrence would eat up an entire page of its own. In fact, one of the most basic ploys in advertising is to convince people that the lack of their product/failure to vote for their person/etcetra will RUIN YOUR LIFE FOREVER and lead to THE END OF THE WORLD!!! Subversions, aversions, and/or deconstructions are much less common and far more interesting, so please post only them or the most extreme examples of this trope.
- Played straight: Vote for me or you'll get nuked!
- In New Mutants: Academy X, when caught in Danger Room, the conversation is something like:
"Don't panic. Prodigy, can you replicate their abilities?
"No. Doesn't work on holograms."
- Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America was a Made for TV Movie about Bird Flu coming to America, while, at that exact same time, suddenly mutating into a form more easily communicable to and between humans. On the inverse side, very few people realize that Swine Flu actually is a pandemic already, because the definition of pandemic doesn't actually include death toll in the criteria, just how much it's spread and how hard it is to stop it from spreading further. The fact that it's spread just about everywhere but proven no more lethal than the regular flu is probably why a similar movie doesn't exist for it.
- Not that the media didn't try, but it's hard to get scared of something when the vast majority of the deaths are innocent pigs.
- The media coverage of swine flu in general has been ridiculously alarmist. They never mention that thousands have contracted it and, like the "regular" flu, felt like crap for a while and then recovered. They mention that people died from it, but didn't say that a number of them were already in a high risk group for flu death (very young or very old, already-compromised health). The mainstream media seems to have tried very hard to manufacture a panic and make it look like perfectly healthy people were dropping like flies in some kind of Captain Trips scenario.
- The worrisome part is that after all the effort put into Crying Wolf at the swine flu, it'll be hard to know what to take seriously if a genuinely wide-scale life-threatening pandemic should emerge.
- The coverage will be exactly the same, because any dangerous pandemic will start in exactly the same fashion, which is why there was that reaction in the first place. Sure, it turned out to be only as dangerous as a normal flu, but not even the CDC knew that at the time.
- Not that the media didn't try, but it's hard to get scared of something when the vast majority of the deaths are innocent pigs.
- Reefer Madness: in the film musical the Lecturer says "When danger's near exploit their fear." The one parent who objects to these Red Scare tactics is labeled un-American.
- In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore replays a female scream after images of destruction to emphasize how the government exploited the 9/11 attacks to manipulate people.
- Pretty much the whole point of |The Host was satirizing this. Giant tadpole running around Seoul, eating people? It must be carrying A HIDEOUS NEW DISEASE! Let us completely focus on this possibility, and ignore the fact that it's eating people!
- Played for Laughs in The Music Man. Salesman "Professor" Harold Hill's standard procedure is to work up a town into a frenzy by turning some trivial incident into a full-blown moral panic, so he can sell them on the idea of starting a children's band (and buy instruments from him).
Oh yes, we got trouble! Right here in River City! With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for POOL!
- On Monsters, Inc., after the first sighting of Boo, a professorial looking monster appears on TV, seemingly to calm people down. He then tells the audience "It is my professional opinion that now is the time to PANIC!!"
- Rollover: the public panics and riots after banks fail worldwide. wikipedia
- Night Watch: after the Hong Kong stock market computers are destroyed by a virus, economic chaos spreads across the globe. The stockbroker that is interviewed says: "Once Joe Average decides the market's unstable, they want out, at any price. They were telling me sell, sell, sell; but nobody's buying." Another report says the market has fallen 3000 points with no end in sight. wikipedia
- In Airplane! II: The Sequel, when Elaine announces to the passengers of the shuttle that they're out of coffee and a riot breaks out, the sign changes from "Don't Panic" to "OK, Panic."
- Ra's al Ghul's in Batman Begins.
Gentlemen, time to spread the word. And the word is panic.
- In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, when spiders announce the truce is over, Ron asks whether they may panic now.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Parodied in The Areas of My Expertise, when one character is smugly worried that terrorists will attack the Mall of America.
"You know what?" I say. "Fuck you."
- Inverted in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as the eponymous Guide has "Don't Panic" on the front in "large, friendly letters". But played straight in the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, as the latest version of the guide has PANIC in "small, alarming letters".
- If you type "don't panic" in the text adventure game, it will tell you nice try, but you have every reason to be panicking, and, for once, the game isn't lying to you.
- State of Fear, as quoted, manages to make a good point about this despite being mostly an Author Tract about why Michael Crichton thought Hollywood Global Warming was a sham. And let's just leave it at that.
- In Robert Asprin's humorous fantasy novel Myth Conception, as more and more horrible details come pouring in concerning the supposedly cushy job they've finagled, Aahz finally breaks down and invokes this trope with his apprentice Skeeve.
- Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura: Every episode is about some threatening conspiracy with nefarious plans that always involve massive harm to the human population. The show will run clips of disasters while the narrator informs us that we'll die any day now thanks to yet another conspiracy.
- The Leverage team once took down a TV reporter who made a career out of this. She actually turned down a fake story they fed her about secret terrorist prisons in the US because she didn't think it would scare her viewers enough. tv.com: leverage: the-three-days-of-the-hunter
- The X-Files: “War of the Coprophages”: Scully attempts to control the mob with a speech about how they are giving in to panic. The mob ignores her and creates havoc. x-files.wikia.com: Bambi Berenbaum, x-files.wikia.com: War of the Coprophages, wikipedia: War of the Coprophages
- Stephen Colbert is proud to be a fearmonger.
- Mock the Week also ran a story about Bird Flu, showing the scare-mongering of the English media.
- Kryton from Red Dwarf has a "panic mode" for when the situation turns out to be more serious than he thought it would be.
- The Animal Planet series Infested makes it look like infestations are caused by unstoppable pest species that will overwhelm the people dealing with said pests. In reality, such infestations are rare and most infestations can be treated rather efficiently.
- A couple of episodes have focused on bats. Said episodes went out of their way to remind people "Bats have rabies! Your children could be in danger!". While rabid bats are very dangerous, you're more likely to be bitten by a rabid dog due to bats being nocturnal and encounters with them being quite rare.
- In Roseanne episode, “Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore”, when Lanford is under a Tornado watch, this convention occurs…
Becky: Mother, this is no time to kid around.
Roseanne: Yeah, you’re right. Okay everybody… PANIC.
- The entire point of Eminem's song "Without Me" is to parody this trope. Within the song he makes a Take That at the FCC, teases paranoid parents that he's "infecting in your kids' ears", and invokes The New Rock and Roll trope by alluding to the fact that the Moral Guardians also reacted with You Can Panic Now when Elvis premiered.
- Hawkwind's production of Michael Moorcock's Sonic Attack, in which a robotic and oddly accented voice describes the lethal and agonising symptoms of sonic attack so you can be better informed about one happening in your neighbourhood. This is punctuated with authoritarian commands of "Do Not Panic!" repeated at intervals, as the voices become even more alien and robotic and the accompanying white noise grows louder....
- Parodied in a Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin's dad was watching "Eyewitness Action News", which aimed to tell its audience why YOU should be paralyzed with helpless fear!"
- This is a common subject in Candorville, as part of its general dislike of "Mainstream Media." Typically, honest information is presented, but certain panic-inducing words are written larger than others.
- In the ending for the Portal 2 DLC, GLaDOS, upon seeing that the invader is in fact the bird, starts panicking and tells her robots to forget their training and flee.
- In Crash Bandicoot: Twinsanity, after removing Dr. Neo Cortex's brain and using it as a ball, Victor said that "This is the part where you run away screaming." Also cue Moritz doing a "go away" gesture to Cortex, before he did just so.
- In the final episode of ReBoot - after Megabyte's return, Mike the TV urges everyone in Mainframe to "panic as only you know how to do!" It turns out this is actually Megabyte in disguise - all part of his plan to trap the Guardians.
- From "Comet Kermillian" in Phineas and Ferb, we get this gem:
- SpongeBob SquarePants. Along with the page quote from "The Smoking Peanut", there's "Wormy" where SpongeBob and Patrick stir Bikini Bottom into a frenzy when they start warning people about a monster (actually a butterfly).
Patrick: Attention, Bikini Bottom! There's a big, scary monster that's going to eat you!
- Also in the episode "Krab Borg", after Squidward learns that robots have "taken over the navy",
Squidward: Attention everyone, run for your lives! Robots have taken over the world!
Squidward: OUR WORLD!!
crowd proceeds to panic
- The Simpsons features a hidden media conspiracy to actually release a disease and do reports on it blaming the imminent outbreak on cats.
- Invoked by Pinkie Pie in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode ""It's About Time," when Cerberus shows up in Ponyville.
Pinkie Pie: Okay everypony, follow my lead. AAAAHHHHHHHH!
- Anti-Semitic blood libels and conspiracy theories.
- The anti-vaccination movement.
- Anti-immigrant hatred.
- DHMO.org parodies this. Spoiler: It's water.
- Paedo Hunt.
- The PMRC and "Tipper Stickers".
- The related alarm over backmasking.
- Satanic Ritual Abuse and the related concept of recovered memories of child abuse.
- The War on Drugs. At least, the way that it was sold to the US public.
- The Red Scare.
- Any stock exchange or stock market crash.
- The aftermath of an economic bubble.
- Search cracked.com for conspiracy theories.
- Vigilante justice, as vigilantes are almost always acting out of this when it's not direct revenge.
- 24-hour news networks in general. Specifically a lot of coverage of The War on Terror and terrorism post-9/11 has been accused of this; from some reporting, you'd think that there was a terrorist waiting behind every bush planning to assassinate you personally on your way to work.
- Any "tabloid-style" television news, such as that popularized by Rick Sanchez at Miami station WSVN.
- The coverage of the Great Recession, at least early on. You'd think from watching some of the reports that the whole world would implode at any moment.
- In February 2009, Hugo Lindgren-writing for the New York Times-coined the term "pessimism porn" to describe these relentless predictions of financial doomsday and the public's fascination with them.
- The absolute worst may come from a guy named Porter Stansberry, a supposed financial analyst who has been disciplined by the SEC for fraud. He's spent the past year flooding the internet, TV and radio waves with ads suggesting the that one of the most important dates in US history is coming and directing people to a website (who's URL is constantly changing). The site features a video with text and voiceovers only, explaining that the US dollar and economy will definitely collapse within the next year because all other nations are on the verge of agreeing to refuse US dollars (even though doing so would voluntarily ravage those countries' economies) and that the US government will respond by taking away everyone's money and sealing off all entry/exit ot the country, so you need to get your money out of the country NOW (but then how will you get to it if the government is going to shut off access to other countries?). What's more, the narrator keeps saying that you MUST believe him because he correctly predicted the collapse of General Motors, Freddie Mac and Fannie May (news flash - a lot of people did). Oh, and did we tell you he knows the one thing that will not only save you but actually make money when this occurs, and he'll send you the booklet about it for free - IF you sign up for his $50 a month newsletter? (Spoiler alert - it's "buy a farm.")
- Every Environmental Scare Ever. According to Paul Ehrlich we've all died of skin cancer from UV exposure thanks to aerosol cans, the world is so crowded people are falling off,and there's no clean water left to drink—oh, and the ever popular 'we're running out of resources!'.
- Every few months or so, an article comes out saying that Facebook, Twitter and texting make children and teens less socially interactive/have less empathy/have poorer grammar (despite the fact that you could arguably say that about anything that allows you to communicate without actually talking to the person). This may or may not be true, however the way the media goes on about it you would think all people under the age of 20 who use social media are anti-social basement dwellers who spend all their time "sexting". This is probably a continuation of the fear when Myspace was popular that all people children meet on there are pedophile serial killers.
- Every time a new doll aimed at preteen girls comes out, someone will freak out and claim that the dolls are promoting loose morals and flawed beauty standards.
- Recently, a guy came on Dr. Oz and speculated that apple juice was harmful to drink, mostly because of arsenic being found in the stuff. The guy who made the claims never mentioned there are TWO types of arsenic, one harmful to the body, and the other doing relatively nothing.
- Every few months, some major media network gets hold of a controversial scene/level/mechanic in a video game and rages a huge stink about it, claiming it's turning people into psychopathic serial murderers or basement dwelling losers.
- Every couple of months, there will be an article in some magazine or a book by some non-writer about why African-American women can't seem to get married. The reasons cited will usually be the same: 1) All the Good Men Are Gay (or in prison) 2)Black men all marry white women 3)Black women are too picky 4)Black women are just plain un-marriageable(or ugly, in extreme cases). The solutions will always be the same: 1) BW should only date outside of their race or 2)BW should settle for the high school dropout on parole with 11 baby mamas. Essence magazine in particular gets a lot of heat for this.
- Disasters that could wipe out the world or at least humanity get a huge amount of coverage from edutainment networks. Most sensible people agree that it's going to happen someday. TV experts keep stressing that 'someday' includes tomorrow.
- There is always some "teen craze" that is being hyped by the news media. Rainbow parties, bracelets telling what sex acts you've done, vodka gummy bears, vodka tampons, etc. Almost all of them are not as common as the news media would have you believe. If anything the news just makes teens want to try it.
- In the case of Rainbow parties, no one actually did them. If there had been a few cases, then it was because they got the idea when the news claimed that everyone was doing it (a claim that was based off of one story in a book).
There are no more examples! YOU CAN PANIC NOW!