Please note: Flashback Friday is not a dork that you shouldn’t talk to.
I’m not sure who the writers behind early 1990s kid-focused anti-drug Public Service Announcements thought their audience was, but the writing in many of them was so questionable, and the situations so outlandish.
I mean, it was only a few years before that a giant man-snake/drug dealer, named “Snake,” scared/tried to scare us out of a lifetime of drug addiction:
…and around the same time a woman told her boss the best comeback ever:
And as cheesy as the PSAs always were, regardless of the intended audience, they always had that one quotable line. 90s Working Woman had one, and so did the kid in today’s Public Service Announcement. Let’s just say that if we weren’t throwing the term “Sexual Harrassment” around in elementary school (because we 100% knew what we were talking about, am I right?), we were saying the infamous comeback in today’s PSA.
My generation was so cute and full of promise in the 90s.
Today’s Public Service Announcement/Commercial comes to us from, I believe, 1990 or 1991. I saw it so much at that time, it could be either year.
Our protagonist, Joey, has a Big Problem in Unnamed School Bully, who has “Pot. You know, MARIJUANA!”
And he wants Joey to get high with him, except…Joey isn’t so sure.
Unnamed School Bully (who looks way too old to be in school with a kid Joey’s age (perhaps all the marijuana?), asks Joey if he’s a chicken, complete with that stupid chicken imitation we all did back then, complete with Chicken Dance Wings.
Because all the cool bullies did that, right? Honestly, I wish that was the worst the bullies I’ve encountered did, just so I could tell them how immature they were.
The situation is interrupted by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles interrupting the encounter, which was…recorded on videocassette?…to discuss Joey’s Dilemma.
What will the result be? Will Joey get a teacher, get a pizza, or get out of there? Will Joey rise above the influence?
Find out, when you click play!
That resolution was one of the most quotable lines in elementary school.
And the bully shove is priceless.
So it’s official – Joey knows how to put the way too old bully/drug dealer in his place, the drug dealer is a dork, and the influence has been put down. COWABUNGA!
Partnership for a Drug-Free America is the former name of Partnership to End Addiction, and was established in 1985, and carried its original name until 2010 when Partnership at DrugFree.com became its successor, only to be replaced by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids from 2014 until 2020. PDFA was the Gold Standard of Public Service Announcements we grew up, and were also responsible for the aforementioned “Snake” PSA, which aired from the mid-1980s until 1995. While that one was enough to scare us out of ever trying drugs, this one probably made us all laugh more than anything. The message and its intentions are good, but the delivery is just so…cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great cheese, probably the best kind.
In decades, Public Service Announcements were more commonplace in late-night timeslots. By the mid-1980s, they were pushed into the forefront of programming timeslots, inserted into commercial breaks regardless of the audience. Since commercials were meant to sell goods and services, the goal of PFDA was to unsell illicit substances to audiences, rather than sell why not to use them. Campaigns were established around focus groups to understand motivations, and market research on teenagers and their parents, with advertising focused on children/younger viewers as the target audience. Aside from the involvement of cartoon characters, PDFA created the “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” campaign and the glorious “I Learned It From Watching YOU!” campaign.
Like I told you, these were all so quotable.
However cheesy and quotable “I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!” was, the message was well-intended. We all got a good laugh, and hopefully, learned something about not bowing to peer pressure from that kid who didn’t belong in elementary school.
TLDR: Drug dealers are dorks, don’t talk to them!
Have a fantastic Flashback Friday, and a great weekend!