PSAs Gone Wrong.
February 23, 2009 2:31 PM   Subscribe

 
Clean Up
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:45 PM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


The drunken child-swinging video has an extreme face-scrunching moment. I will never, EVER swing a child around by the arm and leg while completely wasted, I promise.
posted by nosila at 2:47 PM on February 23, 2009


I wanna be the rat in the first commercial.
posted by gman at 2:49 PM on February 23, 2009


I was disappointed not to see the one where mustachioed Dad barges into Son's room to confront him about finding his stash: "Where did you learn about this?" And the kid tearfully yells back, "It was you! I learned by watching you!" And Dad steps back, having learned a painful lesson.

It was like Harry Chapin collaborating with Cheech and Chong.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


No VD is for Everybody?
posted by designbot at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, what is he doing with those candlesticks?

Also - that first one is utterly bizarre.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2009


That cocaine one is head-smackingly ill-suited to its (presumed?) objective. It plays like a 2-minute spot shot by a neighborhood dealer and funded by some Bolivian cartel. Unbelievable.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2009


Of course, I stopped watching after User A is quoted as describing the high as akin to "sexual climax" albeit multiplied by "100 times." What?
posted by joe lisboa at 2:58 PM on February 23, 2009


Okay, I'll shut up after this, but I just watched it until the end ... do it! "The Jesus Factor" + "I'd do it before going surfing ... like, High Voltage!" = Awesome
posted by joe lisboa at 3:00 PM on February 23, 2009


I was disappointed not to see the one where mustachioed Dad barges into Son's room to confront him about finding his stash: "Where did you learn about this?" And the kid tearfully yells back, "It was you! I learned by watching you!" And Dad steps back, having learned a painful lesson.


"YOU, ALRIGHT?! I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!" A true classic of comically over-the-top ineffective anti-drug PSAs.

Or the one with the drug dealer talking about dealing drugs as he slowly changes into some kind of awful reptile. Here it is. "Do I look like the kinda guy who would do that to a kid like you? YESSSSSS!"
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:01 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


joe, you really need to stick around to the end of that one. It gets better.

and by better, I mean weirder
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:03 PM on February 23, 2009


should've previewed, but I blame the Jesus Factor
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2009




For creepy, you can't beat Protect and Survive.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 3:13 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man. The meth ad is maybe the greatest PSA I've ever seen. I'm going to be singing that all day.

Meth! OooOooOoo Meth!
posted by eyeballkid at 3:19 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you like those be sure to check out the 11 Top Drug PSAs, as reviewed by the Nostalgia Critic. Featuring a cigarette-smoking R2D2 and the insane follow-up to the "this is your brain on drugs" ad.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:20 PM on February 23, 2009


I was disappointed not to see the one where mustachioed Dad barges into Son's room to confront him about finding his stash

The curious can watch that gem here.
posted by bookish at 3:20 PM on February 23, 2009


I personally loved how the cocaine one says "THE JESUS FACTOR" followed by "EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE!" Having not seen the ad, I assume they're saying cocaine is the only drug with the Jesus factor, and that life is terrible without it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:23 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


You, me ...........we're on cocaine.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2009


The curious can watch that gem here.

Dad: Where did you get these?

Son: Dad...

Dad: Answer me!

It's gold.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:29 PM on February 23, 2009


Holy crap, TrialByMedia, apparently Lynch did a lot of commercials as well as PSAs: perfume, pregnancy tests, and Michael Jackson collections, among others. (YouTube versions: Gio, ClearBlue Easy, and Jackson.)

Those Ontario Mumps PSAs -- meh. I think the basic idea could work in the hockey one, but the pacing and acting are just so amateurish. The party one is especially cheap and pointless.

However, Canada still rules on fucking terrifying PSAs (previously).
posted by maudlin at 3:30 PM on February 23, 2009




I was disappointed not to see the one where mustachioed Dad barges into Son's room to confront him about finding his stash: "Where did you learn about this?" And the kid tearfully yells back, "It was you! I learned by watching you!" And Dad steps back, having learned a painful lesson.

Just to be clear, that commercial came out when I was maybe a little younger than that kid, and there were a couple things in there that confused me:

1. I had no idea what the hell the kid was doing. If he'd been manufacturing a loony-tunes-style Marvin The Martian Acme brand Atomizer, I wouldn't have been surprised.

2. The idea that what he was doing was something his dad had not only done, but had allowed his son to watch him do was likewise baffling. Having been raised by completely squaresville parents, re: drug use (as opposed to simple drinking, natch) it was totally outside my ability to even consider the notion of the dad doing something illicit, much less fucking FREEBASING COCAINE.

The end result was that, well before I had any notion of what was going on in that commercial, I tried to use that line ("I learned it by watching you!") on my parents one time - for something wholly unrelated to drugs - in the hopes that I would somehow be let in on some secret machinist's cult where parents and kids get together and do what ultimately looked to me like some kind of mad scientist-style of activity involving cool beakers. Needless to say, no painful lessons were learned by my parents re: playing with the soccer ball in the house.
posted by shmegegge at 3:38 PM on February 23, 2009 [27 favorites]


Bernt Pancreas, thank you! I've sung that song at the oddest times since I was a child, along with the roughly 50% of my friends who know it. Every time I looked for it I couldn't find it.

Happy days are here again.
Obligatorily, Metafilter: with that many users it must have something going for it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


also, in answer to your unspoken questions:

I'm not a chicken. You're a turkey.
posted by shmegegge at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


oh wow, now that I've seen it again, it's a marvel what distortions my memory had created for taht commercial. I guess it was just a box of pot. I always remembered the dad as having come barging into the room holding a wicked cool glass piece straight out of The Bride of Frankenstein.
posted by shmegegge at 3:44 PM on February 23, 2009


I don't understand why the guy with the swollen testicles is in a hamster ball. If this has anything to do with nationalized healthcare it would explain why it hasn't been a hit in the states.
posted by Foam Pants at 3:46 PM on February 23, 2009


I mean...I knew that about cocaine, but I didn't think that's what we were telling the kids.
posted by Roman Graves at 3:47 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


haha i don't know how many years it's been but i STILL use the joke "you! i learned it by watching you!" mostly when my wife is at me for something.

the "drug war" can suck my taters. sooner or later this madness will end.
posted by jcruelty at 3:54 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or does this ad make doing Meth look kind of awesome? My apartment is a mess and I don't have cheery music following me around during the day.

Just you.

But without images of the tweaking skinpicker to freak me out, I would love to weave that awesome Meth song into a DJ set.
posted by kosem at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2009


I think that meth one was re-dubbed with new music.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2009


You are absolutely right. Not exactly what I had in mind, but somebody did it.
posted by kosem at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've seen weirder on AFN/AFRTS when we were stationed in Germany in the late 70s.

My favorites were the ones with Darth Vader and the stormtrooper who were stationed on Planet Usa and kept having run-ins with local law enforcement.

That, and one that was about investments or something and featured Dan Ackroyd (???) hawking a Mr. Tomato Sandwich franchise.

Good to see AFN is still at it: Hercules says be careful with your POAs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:17 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lucky rat.
posted by buzzman at 4:20 PM on February 23, 2009


God I hate PSA's. I appreciate what they're trying to do and all, but seriously, I do not need to see a sous chef slip on a greasy kitchen floor, dumping a huge pot of boiling soup over her face and letting out a blood-curdling scream to understand that "there are no accidents". It just messes me up emotionally.

And that kid swinging one? Fuck, I wanted to cry. Why did I even click on it?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:23 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can put my arm back on, but you can't, so Play Safe.
posted by autodidact at 4:58 PM on February 23, 2009


During the mid-'90s there were a series of Canadian PSAs I can't find online which depicted teenagers literally turning into whatever it was they were (ab)using; in the one I remember best a girl is at a party, takes a swig into a mickey and - via the miracle of '90s morphing technology - turns into a giant glass bottle, complete with panicked eyes darting about from side to side. After a few seconds of this, she turns back into a human and throws the bottle away, scared thoroughly straight. And who can blame her? If I turned into a giant mickey after taking one drink I'd stop drinking dropping acid, too.

Another mid-'90s Canadian gem showed a guy dousing a sports car in gasoline, striking a match and lighting up a smoke, then throwing the match over his shoulder, causing the car to explode in slow motion as he walked away. The point was to demonstrate how much money you waste on cigarettes, but that awesome shit made me want to start smoking.

But, of course, the grandaddy of all bizarre Canadian PSAs is good ol' ASTAR The Robot. He can put his arm back on. You can't. So play safe!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:01 PM on February 23, 2009


PS - Sorry if any of these are referenced in the article...I can't get it to load.
PPS - Damn you, autodidact!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:02 PM on February 23, 2009


Hello, I’m John Stamos. Don’t fuck your pets. On drugs.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:03 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


No list of crazy PSAs is complete without Pills Are Not Candy.
posted by jonp72 at 5:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe, you beat me to it. That list is nothing on the Armed Forces Network set of PSA's. My favorite was the one where they warn you about telecommunications safety by telling you to "Say Hi to Boris" when you're using a phone.

Dear universe, who've I gotta make sweet love to to get a DVD of those PSAs? Seriously, I haven't heard the commissary coupon song in over twenty years
posted by cadge at 5:46 PM on February 23, 2009


Bernt Pancreas: somebody's gotta be posting that to the next "should I eat it?" AskMe thread.
posted by Pinback at 6:11 PM on February 23, 2009


The upshot of some of these PSAs for me was when my younger sister and I were in elementary school I offered to share some lozenge-shaped candy with her and she was afraid that I was trying to get her to take drugs. So she started crying and went to the principal's office to tell them that her brother was doing drugs at school. They hauled me in, made me cry and took away my candy, because we weren't supposed to eat candy at school. In retaliation I, sadly, never shared anything with my sister for a number of years. Really, I think our relationship has only recently recovered from the damage that PSAs have wrought. They should made a PSA about PSAs. "Kids, don't listen to bullshit from the idiot box. You'll be glad you didn't."
posted by otolith at 6:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


cadge: "Dear universe, who've I gotta make sweet love to to get a DVD of those PSAs? Seriously, I haven't heard the commissary coupon song in over twenty years"

Would this fall under the Freedom of Information Act? If not, how expensive a lawyer do we need to construe the law that way? My curiosity is piqued.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:40 PM on February 23, 2009


My favorite drug PSA was in the "When I grow up ..." series, namely I wanna be a nurse (#3). But, yeah, Skin Graft Sous Chef is my number one favorite. The ambiguous blame, the cheerful beginning, and the brief flash of what are sure to be many lost layers of skin to come, topped with with that howl. Like Barbara Crampton screaming/laughing/crying at the end of From Beyond, I have to listen to it several times in a row. My wish is that the foley guys of the world add that one to their stock.

I give this drunk driving PSA the runner-up spot.
posted by adipocere at 6:59 PM on February 23, 2009


I've seen weirder on AFN/AFRTS when we were stationed in Germany in the late 70s.
I was in Yokosuka in the 80's, but these PSA's from Okinawa are the same ones I saw. Pretty bland. Not nearly as horrendous as the shipboard-produced ones they'd show at sea, though.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 7:11 PM on February 23, 2009


The one with the child swinging around is a New Zealand PSA. They have the fucking absolute weirdest and most extreme PSAs here. I call them the "YOU WILL FUCKING DIE" commercials whenever they come on tv here, and they cover anything from needing to know how to swim or else YOU WILL FUCKING DIE, to not speeding because your kid will learn it from you and then he will drive too fast when he's an adult and HE WILL FUCKING DIE, to the priceless warning not to drink and cook food (don't drink and fry!) or YOU WILL FUCKING DIE! IN A FIRE!

Also: dont smother your kids.
posted by supercrayon at 7:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sunday Lunch, possibly the most disturbing PSA i'd ever seen.
posted by lone_one at 8:26 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]




I've been digging Drugs Are Like That after seeing it with the Rifftrax treatment.

Extremely bizarre film about what makes drugs... well... bad. Anita Bryant (famous Florida orange juice and anti-gay spokeswoman) narrates this film that tries to simplify its drug abuse message with an analogy of kids putting together a contraption out of Lego blocks. Although the metaphors often don't make sense, the visual impact of the film is stunning and could easily be quite popular with individuals consuming illicit drugs. Also, like most anti-drug films, this could be a tempting introduction to drugs for some youths yearning to escape their "boring" lives or to rebel against their parents. Produced by WPBT-TV.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:30 PM on February 23, 2009


When I was a kid, it seemed like every other commercial shown during my Saturday morning cartoons was a PSA about blasting caps and the danger of picking them up. Were blasting caps some sort of menace in the late 1960s?
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:03 PM on February 23, 2009


adipocere: My favorite drug PSA was in the "When I grow up ..." series, namely I wanna be a nurse (#3).

This used to air a lot in the early nineties, when my friends and I were home after school, stoned out of our minds. It came on once and my best friend turned to me and said, "Yeah, and no one ever says 'I wanna be a janitor when I grow up!' but shit happens."

The PSA I want to see more than anything is the Kite Man PSA from Portland General Electric. If you didn't grow up in Portland this will mean nothing to you, but goddammit it was awesome.
posted by peep at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2009


Were blasting caps some sort of menace in the late 1960s?

They were the primary cause of the oil crisis of the 70s. If only people had listened.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:22 PM on February 23, 2009


Anyone remember an Ontario PSA with a drunk driver's thoughts providing the narration while he lies paralyzed in a hospital bed?

That one really creeped me out and it seemed to me at the time like it crossed a line somehow. I can't find any sign of this now.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:40 PM on February 23, 2009


Auugh!

I always hated that one.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:57 AM on February 24, 2009


I am possibly the last man alive who remembers Electrojuice, a BC Hydro (IIRC) safety video -- a sprawling epic at 25 minutes, it was a kind of rip-off of BeetleJuice wherein people that kill themselves stupidly with electricity get mocked by a demon in the afterlife. I can find a few references to it online, but it may be one of the rare pieces of video not to be committed to YouTube somewhere.
posted by Shepherd at 2:48 AM on February 24, 2009




Dr. Roxxo is PSA enough for me.
posted by tehloki at 4:36 AM on February 24, 2009


Am I confused, or is the guy in the "Strange Caller" commercial Richard Briers? It looks like him to me...
posted by caution live frogs at 5:13 AM on February 24, 2009


Also, whenever I see a celebrity in a PSA I automatically assume they must have done something they had to atone for.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:19 AM on February 24, 2009


To return to "I learned it by watching you!" -- I have yet to find someone in the roughly 28-40 age group who doesn't still laugh if you pull that out at the right moment. Apparently it was played constantly everywhere, because everyone has seen it.
posted by rusty at 5:27 AM on February 24, 2009


This used to air a lot in the early nineties, when my friends and I were home after school, stoned out of our minds. It came on once and my best friend turned to me and said, "Yeah, and no one ever says 'I wanna be a janitor when I grow up!' but shit happens."

My friends and I learned that if you want to hear some really great cuss words, say that line near your high school janitor.

Our response to the "You, all right? I learned it by watching you!" PSA was always to say stuff like "The hell you did. No son of mine would roll a joint this tight. You'll pop a vein trying to get anything out of that!"

Sarcasm is the best defense against bullshit.
posted by Spatch at 5:30 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sunday Lunch, possibly the most disturbing PSA i'd ever seen.
posted by lone_one at 8:26 PM on February 23 [1 favorite +] [!]


Sweet merciful fuck
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:06 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


My favorite current one is Real Taxpayers of Genius, featuring Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:24 AM on February 24, 2009


guys.
guys.
guys.

we've forgotten one of the all time classics.

I do coke. So I can work longer. So I can earn more. So I can do more coke.
posted by shmegegge at 8:20 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sunday Lunch, possibly the most disturbing PSA i'd ever seen.
posted by lone_one at 8:26 PM on February 23 [1 favorite +] [!]

Sweet merciful fuck
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:06 AM on February 24 [+] [!]


Ho-Lee-Shit. I had to watch it twice because the first time through I had no idea WTF was going on (and wondered what the hell racist organization was behind this message: "See!! Black people are violent and unpredictable!")
posted by applemeat at 9:36 AM on February 24, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: "I've seen weirder on AFN/AFRTS when we were stationed in Germany in the late 70s."

Man, that just reminded me: I studied for a while in Kaiserslautern, a city which has a large US army base. I often tuned in to their American radio station (because most local stations were really, really bad), and I remember hearing a lot of strange PSAs.

Most of it were relatively understandable ("The locals all hate and want to kill you! Take a different route to work each day, so no one will be able to ambush you!"), but one in particular stood out: it started out with a strummed chord on a guitar and then a 50s-style Disembodied Voice of Authority™ said: "This... is a good chord. But there are also bad cords: be careful when placing extension cords across a room, because someone might trip." (From memory, might not be 100% verbatim).

I used to smile at those at first, in a kind of disbelieving way but at some point it hit me: these announcements are aimed at the guys that handle the nuclear missiles.

I didn't smile quite as often after that.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometime during the early 1970s I used to see this animated PSA that no one seems to remember anymore. It was an animated wind-up toy (a clown? soldier?) walking in circles and chanting "I like colored people. They have rhythm. Some of my best friends are colored people..." and things like that. And he slowly wound down, and his voice got slower (like a record on the wrong speed) and then he just slumped over. For the life of me, I can't remember who was behind this spot (NAACP? United Negro College Fund?) or what the point of it was. Does it ring a bell with MeFites?
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Even though "YOU, ALL RIGHT?!" is a classic, the PSA nearest my heart is one produced (I think) by the California Department of Health Services in the mid-'90s, which features a young woman's voice but I can't recall what the hell the visuals were:

Narrator: There's this girl Ana at my school who got pregnant... [nearly 30 seconds of babbling about missed opportunities for pre-natal care and eventually having the baby end up in the NICU due to some easily-preventable health issue, leading to the histrionic conclusion] I KNOW ALL ABOUT IT: I'M ANA.

Oh, how I'd love to see it again.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:19 PM on February 24, 2009


I do coke. So I can work longer. So I can earn more. So I can do more coke.

My highschool-age punk rock band had a song based on that one. That line was the chorus, I think, maybe worded a little differently. I had forgotten all about it until now, another true classic of ineffective drug PSAs.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:29 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


What are you supposed to do when you see the flash?

The creepy part is how fucking cheery they are about the end of the world.
posted by oaf at 8:24 PM on February 24, 2009


I'm shocked that nobody has linked to the video showing Klaus learning all about forklift safety.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:32 PM on February 24, 2009


i just saw the "i learned it from watching you!" commercial about 2 weeks ago, up late with insomnia. on regular ol' broadcast tv. couldn't believe it was still getting airplay...
posted by lapolla at 6:32 AM on February 25, 2009


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