Messages like “don’t use drugs” probably shouldn’t be delivered by people who are clearly on them, but that’s just one of many problems with PSAs or Public Service Announcements. Designed by non-profits and the government, PSAs are designed to bring awareness to issues including obesity, violence, teen pregnancy and the aforementioned, drugs.
Here are ten of the most bizarre PSAs from America and all around the world. Some of these are from recent years and some are time capsules from a different era when homosexuality and cable television were seen as national threats. From offensive to unintentionally hilarious, you might not remember any of these, but at the very least, you will you certainly recognize some of the people ironically delivering these messages.
12. I Learned It By Watching You
This 1987 PSA from The Partnership For A Drug-Free America features a typical teenage boy, sitting on his bed, happily drumming along to some music, until his creepy mustached father walks in. Oh no! Dad found his kid’s stash of weed! His father asks him who taught him how to do that “stuff?” Upset, the boy tells his angry dad, “I learned it by watching you.” Chill out, its weed, not crack or heroin! Considering marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, medical use or decriminalized in 23 states and more coming soon, this PSA is getting more and more hilariously dated by the minute. Don’t worry kid, in a few years, it will be legal for you and your Dad to spark up a joint together!
11. All The Smurfs Are Dead
This 2010 PSA was produced by UNICEF, starring everyone’s favorite Belgian cartoon, The Smurfs. UNICEF created the commercial as part of an effort to raise funds for the war-worn African nations of Burundi, Congo and Sudan. One of the most violent cartoons ever produced, the happy Smurf village is carpet bombed by war planes. Smurfette is left to die and Baby Smurf is now an orphan. The village is left a smoking mess of destruction. Not exactly G-rated- right? The commercial was only shown after 9:00pm to avoid traumatizing and dismurfing young fans. Imagine the outrage if they tried to air this in America?
10. Pee Wee Says “Don’t Smoke Crack.”
Crack was a big thing in 80’s, as was Pee Wee Herman. In this ad, while holding a vial of crack, he warns kids not to smoke it because crack is deadly. (Was he going to take a hit after shooting this stupid PSA?) Plus, crack (unlike pills) doesn’t exactly come with dosage instructions (nope your dealer won’t write down directions for you), so you never know exactly how much you are taking. Ironically, a more effective ad would have been about not masturbating at adult movie theaters because it could lead to the death of your career.
9. Teen Mommy Darci
Teen Mommy Darci was the brainchild (ha ha, child) of the Idaho Governor’s Council on Adolescent Pregnancy prevention. It shows that being a teen mom means you will become an unemployed piece of trash. Darci comes with her own tiny trailer- wait, no double wide? And of course, Teen Dad Darren is sold separately, but you can’t buy him because, as in real life, he’s nowhere to be found. Poor Darci! Instead of showing laughable propaganda, maybe they should show clips of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom instead. Girls, don’t get knocked up or you could go to jail 11 times like Jenelle or become a p**n star like Farrah!
8. Belinda Carlisle
Heaven is only a place on earth if you quit drugs like Belinda Carlisle- life will be a beach! In this ridiculous PSA, beautiful Belinda Carlisle talks about how drugs made her look bad and she got bored one day and sick of them- so she just quit (like it’s so easy for addicts). Drugs are so last year, right? This ad was one of several anti-drug PSAs by rock stars for an organization called R.A.D. Rock Against Drugs (which we’re pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore). Lou Reed, Vince Neil, Steve Jones, Sheena Easton, Jon Bon Jovi, Gene Simmons and Phil Collins, also shot PSAs for the organization.
7. Bill Cosby Talks About Drugs
Bill Cosby shot this now (and probably then) ridiculous PSA about not taking uppers like speed that (gasp) we might not even know we’re taking. He must have been referring to all the women he allegedly drugged and later sexually assaulted. They didn’t know they were taking drugs, right? According to supermodel Janice Dickinson, Cosby had a “suitcase” of pills, which he allegedly offered to her. So, Cosby was against drugs for most people, but not for any of the women he wanted to sexually assault. Maybe he just offered those women downers, so he wouldn’t contradict himself.
6. Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue
Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue is one of the more interesting PSAs because it features characters from different universes such as Winnie The Pooh and Bugs Bunny, sort of like the Simspons and Family Guy cross over episode, but less funny and more bizarre. Maybe the people who signed-off on this were on drugs themselves. Corey is sad because her brother smokes pot and steals from her. In what is a pretty trippy scene, Corey is kidnapped by cartoon characters and told what his life will be like if he keeps smoking weed. In the meantime, poor Corey almost tries weed so she can bond with her brother, but he walks in and stops her. It ends with Corey and Michael talking to their parents. We don’t know what happens in the end- will Michael go to rehab or team up with Seth Rogen in the future to make his habit for him?
5. No Cable
This ad from the 70’s is hilarious. Shown at movie theaters, it compared cable television or as they said back then, “pay TV” providers to monsters. Now, today, that’s fair assessment of most providers’ customer service policies. But, back then; networks were afraid of what would happen if consumers actually had to pay for television. They asked consumers to sign a petition in the lobby to stop pay television. We all know how that turned out.
4. Boys Beware!
Let’s just say in 1961, homosexuals weren’t portrayed exactly like Mitchell and Cameron from Modern Family. They were portrayed as predators. In this hilariously dated PSA film, a 10 minute long collaboration between filmmaker Sid Davis and the Inglewood California Police Department, boys are warned that homosexuals are mentally ill and sometimes even violent child molesters and pedophiles, through telling the story of three boys who were molested by homosexual men, one of whom is killed. One of the most bizarre parts of the film (as if it doesn’t sound strange enough) is that one of the boys actually gets placed on probation for unwillingly being the victim of child molestation. But, you’re supposed to tell, right? The film was remade in color in 1973, using the same script and soundtrack with different actors as Boys Aware.
3. Love Won’t Add Weight
This PSA is offensive on so many levels. A cartoon child is rewarded with junk food for a good report card or consoled with cake, every time he feels sad. Eventually, he grows fat and realizes his family should give him love instead of junk food. If you give your kid junk food, you obviously don’t love him and you’re probably a stupid parent for making your kid become fat. This PSA was a massive failure because there is still a huge problem with obesity in America. But the current PSAs don’t have cute songs, just depressing warnings about diabetes.
2. Hell Squirrel
We all love animals. So, what better than a psychotic animatronic squirrel to warn the people of Russia about the dangers of too much booze? Hell Squirrel has alcoholic psychosis and sees invisible spiders. He talks about killing a woman and sings “Volga.” Nothing he says makes any sense (especially if you don’t speak Russian). At the end of the commercial, which was produced by the Russian Ministry of Heath (and how drunk were they when they came with this idea?), the squirrel threatens to kill people for drinking and says, “If you’re drinking, I’m coming for you.”
1. That’s Just Wrong
This is the most bizarre anti-violence PSA ever produced. Staring actor David Arquette, dressed in a bunny costume, he goes into a hotel room and makes love with who he thinks is his then-wife, Courteney Cox, in what looks like a “furry” p**no. But, Courteney walks in on him, wondering what he is doing. HA! They were both fooled by Jack (the page) from 30 Rock. But, no worries, it’s cool. Now that David has your attention, he tells viewers domestic violence isn’t okay. Neither is accidentally cheating on your wife or delivering a PSA in a stupid costume.