Drugs are bad, but anti-drug PSAs may very well be worse. They tend to be completely ridiculous, and likely do little to actually dissuade kids from trying drugs. This was especially true back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when crack had become a big problem and anti-drug coalitions took to the airwaves in great force to try and combat the issue. Let’s take a look back at these ads and see how woefully inadequate they were.
A popular approach to keeping kids off drugs was to try and scare the crap out of them. It’s a great idea, you could show the kids the real life horrors that drugs can cause in a person’s life and hopefully scare them straight. Or you can use ridiculous looking monsters and have the entire ad come off like an extremely low budget 30 second horror movie. As you can see, “The Snake” took the second approach.
We meet Snake, a drug dealer with a really horrible sales pitch. He wants to sell us some drugs; weed, coke, crack, your choice. It sounds promising at first, be he quickly torpedoes the sale by pointing out the terrible things the drugs will cause you to do to get more, such as: Steal from yo momma, lie and cheat on yo homeboys. I’ve got to say Snake, you really aren’t making it sound that enticing. Snake seems rather nonchalant about the whole thing, probably because he’s too busy transforming into some strange cobra-like creature.
He ends his pitch by asking if he looks like the kind of guy that would deal poison to kid, a question I don’t have the answer for because I’m unaware of the business practices of reptiles. The question appears to be rhetorical however, as Snake lets out a hiss that sounds enough like “Yes” to put the final nail in this sale’s coffin. Might I suggest the next time you try to make a sale, you highlight the positives of drug use, rather than the negatives. Now, as for transforming from an inner city teenager into giant man/snake monster…that’s probably a good idea, people will be less afraid.
Less a commentary on the dangers of crack, and more about how creepy people who work in morgues are. This Nosferatu look-alike wants you to try crack purely so that after you die he gets to hang out with your corpse. I think there’s a bigger problem than drugs going on here. Sure this might persuade you not to do crack, but wouldn’t you feel safer if this creeper was locked up somewhere? Once again, instead of talking about the real dangers of drugs or showing some terrifying evidence of drug abuse, we a completely unrelated, bizarre scare tactic. It definitely seems like the message that the Partnership for a Drug Free America is trying to convey is: “Don’t smoke crack or your corpse will be defiled by an unsavory morgue working.” I think this creates more problems than it solves.
When wacky and absurd monsters fail, it’s time to move on to celebrities, and I think I’ve covered both ends of the spectrum with the videos here. First we’ve got Pee Wee Herman, whose claim to fame is a TV show that was clearly developed by someone high on crack, so I’m not sure he’s the right person to be speaking out against it. Hearing Pee Wee say “This is crack, rock cocaine” is pretty high on the comedy scale for me though. It could only get better if it turned out that crack was the secret word. I’ve got to say though, a recreational drug habit really isn’t any worse than Pee Wee’s hobbies.
Next up we’ve got Clint Eastwood. This ad was either aimed at teenagers and twentysomethings, or it was still aimed at children in yet another attempt to scare the crap out of them. Whoever the target audience, Clint is completely ambivalent about their survival. He pretty much accepts that they’re going to die, he’d just like to see it be for something more important than crack, like saving your fellow astronauts lives by piloting an ancient Russian satellite armed with nuclear missiles into the moon. Ew, Space Cowboys reference.
Now, it’s not like horrible anti-drug PSAs died out in the early 90’s, no no, they’re still alive and kicking today. Most of them come from The Foundation for a Drug Free World, which is funded by the Church of Scientology. They all involve a statement someone made about drugs and then end with “They lied.” Except in some cases, they didn’t lie at all, and just like the Church of Scientology, these ads are full of shit.
”They said if I did coke, I could party all night. They lied” They did not, that’s exactly what you did! That ad features a solid 50 seconds of you partying all night, in progressively swankier clubs!
”They said that Ritalin would help me focus, they lied” But you then spent hours starring straight ahead without blinking. Looks like you’re pretty focused to me.
”They said if I got drunk, I’d be one of the guys. They lied.” Once again, no they didn’t. You’re clearly hanging out, having a good time and being accepted by everyone, very obviously “one of the guys” Then you decide to go be all weird in the bathroom and drive home drunk. No one told you to do that.
”He said he’d love me forever if I smoked crack with him. He lied” Now, I’m not trying to defend crack here, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the lies in this video. Crack didn’t say it’d love you forever, your scumbag boyfriend did. Don’t try and put this on crack, take some personal responsibility and accept that fact that you make poor relationship choices.
See? It doesn’t matter what year it is, anti-drug PSAs never stop being ridiculous. That is, unless you live in Montana, where PSAs are completely fucking insane. (Maybe slightly NSFW. Also, completely fucking insane. You’ve been warned)
The Honorable Mentions
Well after that dark turn, let’s lighten the mood with a few more ridiculous PSAs