Sunday, September 28, 2008

Public Service Announcements

How I killed an entire Sunday.

#14 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.
Dedicated to my parent-friends who insist it is harder to raise children now. I suppose it must be harder to bring up the topic of VD, much less explain irony.

"Mom, if VD is for EVERYBODY, should I ask my doctor for help? I don't have it."

As we used to say around the corner, "Gonorrhea is nothing to clap about."
The song on the radio went like this:
I got it from Sandy
Sandy got it from Paul
Paul got it from Ernestine
Who coulda got it anywhere at all.

One reader of the Cape May County Herald agrees with me.

Along with making good "drug decisions," the talk of 6th grade health class was "venereal symptoms and how to distinguish them." Because you want to mark it correctly in your field guide and give your partner(s) the right information. (Oh fever, night fever, night fe--ver... )

I loved PSAs. They were little horror movie snacks between Afterschool Specials, which were never on enough.

My top 10 fave PSAs from the panelled years.

10 Give a hoot
Woody's unfortunate weirdness as a talking animal and a creepy puppet did not deter from his authoritative stance on pollution. Pollution was very very serious in the 70s. We forgot about it for a while while we were chanting U-S-A. But any retrospective of PSAs must include the one-two punch of Woodsy and Iron Eyes

9 Only YOU...
In the same family was the domineering Smokey the Bear, whose tragic cubhood turned him into the Batman of the forest. Yes YOU CAN prevent forest fires, you selfish human scum. Grow hair and live INSIDE. And stop smoking already (see #3)

Take a good long look at that poster. The bear shall lie down with the fawn. After a prayerful interlude. Watch this one with the lights on.

Smokey would point right at you like Uncle Sam and hold you personally responsible. According to Wikipedia (and why would they be wrong) Smokey is today voiced by Sam Eliot. That could give you nightmares.

I saw Smokey at the Washington Zoo when he was still alive. He didn't seem happy.

8 Play safe
Pollution + unsupervised children = Childhood will kill you. This is the important lesson.

Your grandparents had scarlet fever and mining disasters. You have abandoned refrigerators, insulators, blasting caps, and parents. Between Jiminy Cricket and the Crash Test Dummies was a whole lotta scary shit.

7 "But da moon cain't hoit ya"
So many ways to get cancer. So little time. As this commercial explains, we are "crazed by tan." How crazed? This crazed.

The American Cancer Society and the Lung Association used to be all over the Tee-vee. Within a generation, they had us feeling pretty stupid about a lot of stuff.

6 Right turn on red after stop
I was not able to find this, and it is better sung. It was a local campaign in Virginia explaining Right-on-Red. For reasons I do not know, it featured a 1940s big band sound and some crossing guard Andrews Sisters who did that point-at-the-ground dance move when they sang "turn right but still have to stop." It ranks high because it is so singable.

5 Parents who use drugs
The American Lung Association launched an anti-smoking campaign called Like Father, Like Son that ran through my school years. One minute seems very long nowadays.

It was replaced by this national treasure.

4 Don't drown your food
All things Timer are lovely. He knew we were home alone eating a bowl of Oreos and would go for something better if we could think of it. Cheese? Hell YA, Timer! And tomorrow it is Sunshine on a Stick.

But "Don't drown your food" is a masterwork. Dr A took this to heart.

3 You mind very much if they smoke
Recall a world where you needed societal support to stand up to Smokers. Recall a world where cigarette jingles were so catchy, the anti-smoking jingle had to be too. This sounds like Jim Croce by way of the King Family.

Here is one I had forgotten. Harry is so accommodating.

I am unable to find video proof of my 2 faves, which is anti-climactic, but your lunch hour must be over by now. Heaven knows mine is.

2 "Don't take the Car! You'll kill yourself......"
LOVED to scream this out on any occasion. The premise is that a husband and wife are fighting, over his drinking, I believe. I picture him in a burnt orange turtleneck and she with a Joan van Ark hairdo, and they are screaming like an Albee play (because that was our culture) and he storms drunk out of the house. She flings open the door and screams, "don't take the car! You'll kill yourself!" but the freeze-frame and reverb has it come out "your-sel..l..l..l...l..." Oh, he does, of course. A good PSA always ends up at the morgue.

1 Lead Paint - I have mentioned this one before. Still can't find an artifact.

But the plot conflict is...
"paint chips peelin'... from the ceilin'... by my baby's bed..."

$50 in cash if you deliver this video to me. In the meantime, enjoy this one:

1 comment:

  1. This post is particularly funny AND underscores what a fabulous memory you have. As it turns out, we do need government intervention to save us from ourselves after all. Too bad we haven't been blanketing the airwaves with messages about not buying a big-ass house you can't actually afford or confusing credit cards with cash...


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