Growing up in the 80s, we were fully aware of the government’s “war on drugs.” Programs like D.A.R.E. and First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign were staples of our everyday life. But none of the anti-drug propaganda spread around in the 80s was as effective (or entertaining, depending on your perspective) than the anti-drug public service announcements that frequently popped up on television.
We’ve collected here a few of our favorite PSAs that aimed to keep us all off of drugs.
I Learned It From Watching You!
This legendary PSA was probably one of two that immediately popped in your head when you clicked into this post. A teenaged kid is chillin’ in his room when his dad comes in after finding his son’s weed stash. After inquiring where he got the drugs from and who taught him how to use the stuff, the kid reveals that he learned it from watching his accuser. What they didn’t show you in this commercial is that father and son later enjoyed a nicely rolled spliff to calm their nerves down before discussing punishment.
This Is Your Brain On Drugs…
This short PSA was probably the other one you thought of when clicking this post. A man drops an egg into a sizzling frying pan and says that the egg represents your brain on drugs. So apparently drugs are high in cholesterol and rather tasty with a little bit of hot sauce. We’ll keep that in mind.
This Is Your Brain On Drugs… The Sequel
Actress Rachel Leigh Wood starred in this spot which continues where the last one left off. It was a rather impactful ad, and by impactful we mean the impact of a frying pan against various kitchen objects.
Pee Wee Herman Speaks Out Against Crack
There is no PSA more bizarre than this overly dramatic spot featuring Pee Wee Herman. We think nothing better exemplifies what the 80s were about than Pee Wee Herman holding a vial of crack cocaine.
When I Grow Up…
When we were young, we had dreams of our cushy jobs and big houses and nice cars that were waiting for us when we grew up. Instead we were greeted by a couple of wars, a crumbling economy with matching job market, and reality television. This PSA should’ve warned us in advance that things are gonna suck, not just for the drug addicts, but for everyone when we all grow up.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Think Drug Dealers Are Dorks
Pee Wee Herman wasn’t the only celeb asked to do a PSA in the 80s and 90s. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got in on the action too. However, looking back, a bunch of talking turtles who love eating pizza and are guided by a talking rat make us wonder just who exactly needed the anti-drug message more. Cowabunga!
This recent PSA can best be summed up by a comment left on the video’s YouTube page: “Shes boring? You’re boring for having nothing better to do than sit around and watch her melt.”
Snake, The Drug Dealer
The only thing this PSA taught us was to not buy drugs off of anyone that morphed into a snake before our very eyes.
A Father’s Regret
In this PSA, a father stands at his 13-year-old son’s grave crying because he hadn’t thought to talk to him about the dangers of drugs. Is this an anti-drug PSA or a bad parenting PSA?
In this PSA, a machine reads the brain activity of both a normal 14-year old and that of a 14-year-old pot smoker. The non-smoker’s brain functions at a rapid pace, while the smoker’s brain moves slowly. We just hope they didn’t actually give a 14-year-old a joint just for the sake of this commercial.
This fake PSA comes from the stoner comedy Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. It’s a hilarious spoof on the golden age of anti-drug PSAs. We dare you not to laugh at the intentionally bad acting!