Seriously folks, this country has a drug problem, and if you don't believe me, just start calculating what the government has spent on its "war on drugs" since the 80s -- it's in the hundreds of billions of dollars. A not-inconsequential chunk of that has surely gone to funding anti-drug advertising campaigns and public service announcements, and if you're wondering why we haven't won that pseky drug war yet, at least part of the answer lies in those (unfortunately laughable) moldy oldies: the PSAs. YouTube, of course, is a veritable treasure-trove of them.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PSA
Wow, if even anthropomorphized mutated turtles won't smoke weed, then I'm sure not touching the stuff! Actually, what I find most amazing about this spot (and many others like it) is its use of a corporate selling tool (the turtles, who sold kids toys, video games, comic books and, inadvertently perhaps, pizza) to sell a moral message. Since when is it OK for hyper-violent mutants to teach our kids right from wrong?
Hmm, I'm sure a film set in the 80s was a great place to get away from drugs. (Ever heard the stories about Martin Scorsese?) And once again, a killing machine (who in many respects acts like a person hopped up on PCP) becomes an oracle of moral advice.
I learned it by watching you!
Ahh, revel in the classicness. Parodied everywhere from Robot Chicken to Family Guy, it's probably as well known as it is only because it was so effective in getting its message across -- hey, credit where credit is due -- a classic example of why the War on Drugs was so good at producing quotable quotes. Heck, in the pantheon of 80s catch phrases, it's up there with "Where's the beef?" and "I've fallen and I can't get up!" (Which, if you absolutely must watch it -- as I did -- is here.)
Drug abuse is the new slavery
If the Partnership for a Drug-Free America wanted to get people talking, this controversial 1991 PSA certainly did it (to wit: someone titled this YouTube video "Racist anti-drug PSA.") By recasting the drug war along race lines, they not only muddied the waters, they started to look desperate. It's a far cry from an egg frying in a pan! And speaking of which, so is this 1998 follow-up to the classic "this is your brain on drugs" PSA:
This is (still) your brain on drugs
Is it just me, or is there some complicated meta commentary on what being on drugs is really like going on here? (I mean, she's supposed to be high, right?) Do not let people on drugs into your kitchen! And yes, that's the girl from She's All That.