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Would You Like to Know More?

February 12, 2009 - Wes Burns
"I learned it from you, alright! I learned it by watching you!"

Anybody going to wager a guess as to the origin of that little tirade?

If you're stuck let me help. Think early 80's. Think father and son. Think mustaches.

That's right. This was the seminal line from a famous anti-drug PSA (public service announcement) about how some dope-smoking dad was a hypocrite for punishing his dope smoking son...or something. I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that the message of the PSA was simple: drugs are bad.

Without arguing the merits of the current view of drug use in America I think we can all agree that at least the PSA had a very direct point to make.

This was the early 80's. Anti-drug whatnot found its way into every aspect of a kids life. We had D.A.R.E. and their "ready to be ironic" t-shirts. We had the "winners don't use drugs" screen that popped up every time I didn't have quarters at the arcade. We even had Saturday morning cartoons about how drugs are going to kill us all.

Zip ahead to the modern times. The official position remains "drugs are bad" yet the approach of the PSA has changed. Instead of angry sons and confused fathers we now have aliens and talking dogs. These are the guys primarily responsible for this new wave of anti-drug PSA. They feature crudely drawn stick figures smoking other sticks while being lectured to by a talking dog. Clearly someone has slipped something into their drink.

Is this what people do for fun in the deep recesses of our federal bureaucracy?

"Johnson, we've got another $4 million for anti-drug PSAs. What should we do?"

"Lets get the most drugged out imagery we can find and play slow, wasteoid (its a word) music over a shoddy cartoon THEN tack on an anti-drug ending."

"Crackerjack work, Johnson! Another promotion!"

Of course, many would say that it is unfair that I heap the scorn upon the anti-drug PSAs when in fact MOST PSAs are obtuse, amateur clips that often obfuscate the true moral of the announcement behind a curtain of C-list actors and poor production quality.

Case in point:

That's right. Reprising his role from "Starship Troopers" only 12 years after the fact is Casper Van Dien. And what subject will this never-was action star being talking about? Child abuse?

Herein lies the real problem. The subjects these PSAs discuss are serious subjects for serious people. They are not the kind of thing that can be metered out and dispersed in a 30 second soundbite.

The more you know.


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