#FlashbackFriday The Madness

I think I found the new slogan for Allison’s Written Words!

Considering what this would look like if I put the Flashback Friday at the end of the phrase, rather than the beginning, well, it would look like I’m trying to retire yet another weekly feature. Which I’m not.

We’re wrapping up Interstitials/Public Service Announcements week once again, and rather than focus on kid-friendly segments that emphasize good health, self worth, acknowledging mistakes, and children’s books, we’re looking at the more adult approach to interstitial segments, which focus on community outreach, substance abuse, mental health, and in the case of the interstitials that aired in the 1970s and 1980s, informational topics important to adults – sex and old age, childcare, family life, and anything else Hal Linden could inform you about.

Including your daughter’s menstrual cycle and athleticism.

Yeah, it really happened.

Yesterday, CBS gave their audience an opportunity to learn more about the subjects of their movies and primetime specials by encouraging them to Read More About It, in a 19-year long series of interstitial/public awareness spots as a cooperative with the Library of Congress. At the same time, CBS had a separate set of public awareness/community outreach interstitial-type segments, that actually began life as a music video to promote an anti-drug lifestyle.

Stop the Madness is a public awareness campaign created by CBS in 1985, following the success of the “Stop the Madness” movement, an anti-drug music video endorsed and supported by then-President Ronald Reagan and his Administration. The music video featured celebrities endorsing the “Just Say No” lifestyle, which was First Lady Nancy Reagan’s main cause during her husband’s presidency. Ironically enough, some of the people touting this lifestyle via appearing in this video had drug issues that had negative impacts on their life, including arrests (actor Stacy Keach) and even illness (Lyle Alzado) and death (Whitney Houston). Created by actor Tim Reid, then of Simon and Simon, along with Brian Dyak, founding president and CEO of the Entertainment Industries Council, the video premiered on the January 17, 1986 episode of Friday Night Videos on NBC, and aired in regular rotation for six months.

The 1980s: straightforward, in your face, lots of breakdancing, and a guaranteed cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The 80s were one hell of a drug!

CBS began their campaign of Stop the Madness soon after, airing Public Awareness messages that featured then-current CBS stars in short segments talking about drinking, drugs, designated drivers, recovery, and “taking it easy” during the holiday season, with the same message airing several years in a row, delivered by several different actors.

I was younger when the earliest segments aired, but I do remember the ones that aired during the 1990s. In my own video collection, from my “Christmas Video,” I actually had one of these segments from December 1986, featuring Michael Catlin of Capitol (a daytime soap opera my mom watched) talking about crack.

After watching a bunch of these, I’m convinced his delivery was the most intense one.

“Crack a smile” came off more like “Crack a freakin’ smile and say NO!”

Now, imagine my surprise to see how many Stop the Madness segments are just floating around on YouTube. What I thought was nothing more than a 1980s PSA campaign was actually a decade-long attempt to stop the use of substances. As short as they are, they’re effective and well-presented.

And two of them even feature adorable child actors!

I swear, “Be awesome, just say no!” belongs on a shirt. And the whole “you’re a duck” thing – I wasn’t lying when I said that the 80s were straightforward.

Stop the Madness enjoyed a nice long run into the mid-1990s, before being succeeded by The Arts Enrich Us All. Seems the 1990s were a way to cap off the campaigns that had their biggest successes in the 1980s and 1990s, and remind us that if you walk like a duck and act like a duck…you’re a duck.

And that you’re unable to follow the advice of the music video you’re making a cameo in!

Have a fantastic Flashback Friday, take it easy, and have a great weekend!

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