Today’s post brings us the poor man’s Gary Coleman, Emmanuel ‘Webster’ Lewis, encouraging kids to stand up against adults who, um, touch them improperly. Nothing witty to say about this one. In fact, it’s about as uncomfortable as a trip to Mr. Horton’s bicycle shop to see loveable little Webster, who was probably well into his teen years at this time, talking to us about such a serious and disturbing subject. Then I’m reminded of his friendship with Michael Jackson and, well.. let’s just stop here.
This is one of the most fondly remembered spots from my many, many childhood hours in front of the ol’ tube. The California Attorney General’s Office and your local Rotary Club certainly spared no expense in making sure every young couch potato knew they had the right to say ‘no’ with this Broadway show disguised as a public service announcement. From glow-in-the-dark heroin needles and faux pop stars to a posse of random — and very colorful — street dancers who apparently possess some level of Jedi powers, this spot had it all. Such an extravagant anti-drug production perfectly captures the essence of the ‘Decade of Excess.’ On a tragic note, the star of this PSA went on to die from head injuries sustained in a skateboarding accident. I guess she never saw the ‘Always Wear a Helmet’ PSA. Or maybe she thought that big hair was protection enough.
This spot warns us all of the horrors of wood paneling in your living room. No… It warns us of the deadly cocktail created when you mix high levels of stress and a screaming baby. Nothing funny here. This is a message that still rings true today. Don’t let frustrations get the best of you when an infant is involved. If only we all had the power to freeze time and chill out. I’ll bet Zack Morris never abused his kid.
It’s friendly Carly Cardinal, the top hat-wearing bird, talkin’ about trees for the National Arbor Day Foundation. SPOILER ALERT: He likes them. Yes, Carly is a male — voiced by the one and only Jerry Houser, aka Wally Logan, aka the dude who married Marcia Brady… who, ironically, had a brother that once fell off a tree and sprained his ankle. He did not think trees were terrific after that little incident. Funny how the world works sometimes. I hear Carly is still alive and well at the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. Sadly this can’t be confirmed as no one has ever actually visited the Arbor Day Foundation’s website.
Here’s a PSA with a heart-warming message: No matter what differences we have on the outside, we’re all pretty much the same on the inside. So, you see, it doesn’t matter that the stars of this spot look like cheap, bootleg muppets — they can still teach a positive message just as well as a real muppet.
It’s no Superstition(1) — drunk driving will kill you. So if a buzzed friend wants to get behind the wheel, take the Higher Ground(2) and take the keys. Be smart and drive safely, or be stupid and die — the differences are as stark as Ebony and Ivory(3). Look, I don’t know you from Adam… or Sir Duke(4), but I Just Blogged to Say I Love You(4.5) and I don’t want you to maim yourself or any other innocent people like me by driving intoxicated. Have the courage to say For Once In My Life(5) I’m going to do the right thing and take a stand against drunk driving. Isn’t She Lovely(6).
This powerful PSA about forest fire prevention creeped me out when I stumbled across it on an old tape a few years ago. I can only imagine what my thoughts were if I saw this as a young kid back in the 80s. It’s probably among those scary TV memories I’ve blocked out, like that episode of ‘Punky Brewster’ where Cherie gets locked in that old fridge. Oh great, now I’m going to have nightmares about that again. But I digress. The eerie imagery of the spot really punches you in the gut — the ominous gas masks, the vast lifelessness — It’s one of my favorite PSAs of the 80s because it does such a good job of scaring you into caring about its message. If you’re like me you’ll never touch another match after watching this. In fact, we should gather up all the matches, lighters, etc. and burn them… Oh wait, nevermind.
In honor of their recent retirement to the Smithsonian, here’s our first PSA starring the Crash Dummies, Vince and Larry. In this installment we find Vince on the verge of hanging it up until his zest for eating windshield is renewed by the survival of Country music star Barbara Mandrell, who was seriously injured in a car crash in 1984.
And so begins our mission to keep the valuable lessons 1980s TV taught us alive and well for future generations. Listen to the 80s, kids. This is perhaps the most memorable PSA the decade gave us — not to mention the inspiration for our rad header — therefore it’s the perfect video to kick off the site: The ol’ frying egg/brain spot. Several variations of this ad were broadcast over the years — most notably Rachael Leigh Cook going nuts with the frying pan in the 90s — and the concept was parodied in pretty much every way possible.