On Wednesday afternoon, adjunct history professor Todd Goehle delivered a lecture entitled "Bikers, Brawlers and Bolsheviks," which discussed the influence of moral panic theory and media on the public.
Goehle said that moral panic theory is an abstract term that describes "a way of understanding how responses to a certain event are exaggerated." People witness moral panic every day on news networks like Fox News and CNN, he said, citing as one example the grossly exaggerated coverage of Miley Cyrus's "racy" photo shoot in Vanity Fair magazine.
In addition to explaining moral panic theory, Goehle spoke about "rockers" in Hamburg, Germany during the second half of the 1960s. Rockers, the German equivalent of an American "greaser," committed petty crimes throughout Hamburg and during run-ins with the German media. Using portions of his doctoral dissertation, Goehle discussed the public perception of the rockers at the time.
Goehle concentrated on the manners in which the media portrayed the "takeover" of rockers in Hamburg, referencing several instances where brawls broke out in bars and subways. He also discussed a series of surveys that analyzed public awareness of the rockers and whether media portrayal of the events affected their opinions.
Goehle finished by speaking about the media's influence in modern society. "Moral panic concepts are very important because we live in an environment where information is very accessible and very manipulative … Exaggerated stories detract from the real problems in our society," Goehle said. "We should be focusing on finding resolution in domestic and foreign policy issues, not Miley Cyrus."
History Club and Campus Auxiliary Services sponsored the lecture. Senior Amy Breimaier, president of the club, noted that it has been "at least a year and a half" since the History Club last sponsored a lecture.
Sophomore Mike Terreri, club secretary, said he was excited for the future of the History Club and their continued involvement with the history department. "In the spring we're going to have more programs available such as our annual advisement, a grad school presentation and trips off campus," he said.