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5 PSA Campaigns That Ended Up Being Wrong

People are wrong; it happens. Teachers, politicians, our own dang parents, they all screw the pooch (METAPHORICALLY) sometimes. Hell, even public service campaigns — one of the things you’re definitively supposed to trust — get it all wrong sometimes. Here are the PSAs that are kind of a mess!

 

All anti-drug campaigns

America has never had a successful anti-drug campaign. Reagan started a war on drugs, and 30 years later, roughly a quarter of the country has an opiate addiction. Maybe a part of the problem is that none of them actually confront drugs in an honest way? These PSAs usually resort to scare tactics that portray scenarios that are in no way realistic. If you tell kids nothing more than “DRUGS ARE BAD!”, kids are going to keep doing them, because if we learned anything from Michael Jackson, it”s that 1. Being “Bad” is cool, 2. It don’t matter if you’re black or white, and 3. Thriller.

 

Hell Houses

Three things about me: 1. I am not religious, 2. I am not form the south, and 3. Thriller. Hell Houses are a southern evangelical Christian creation where the decadent, spooky fun of Halloween is replaced by lessons about how everything fun will make you die and go to Hell. I’m sure it’s effective for some people, but largely they’ve been co-opted by ironists who think this is all incredibly funny. Oh, also the message of these things is abhorrent.

 

Don’t talk to strangers

I grew up in the ’90s, and wow wow wow were people every concerned about strangers kidnapping and murdering children back then. It kind of replaced the satanic panic of the ’80s, mainly because parents always need something unbelievably stupid to panic about? It’s good to teach kids to be cautious, but it’s generally a good rule not to pet strange dogs, walk alone dark streets counting your fat bank roll, or see any movie with Sam Worthington in it. And teaching kids not to do things like “Getting in a car with a stranger” is probably a smart thing to do. But the panic in the 90’s — my God. Books, TV, and even government officials were so adamant that kids be incredibly wary of people they don’t don’t know that I now have very bad social anxiety disorder. At the end of the day, kids are much, much more likely to be harmed by someone they know.

 

Don’t you put it in your mouth

In defense of the “don’t you put it in your mouth” campaign, I did remember not to put things in my mouth. But I also remembered the horrors of the cheap, stilted puppets. What are they? Vague blue monsters? Who is that lion at the end? He seems important, like he’s a mascot or something, but I am entirely unfamiliar with him. To this day, I remain haunted by these questions.

 

The food pyramid

Looking at the food pyramid, it’s immediately clear that you absolutely should not be consuming that much dairy. That’s disgusting. Also, the food pyramid didn’t differentiate between protein rich sources; you’re punishing your heart if you consume the recommended amount of protein via red meat, as opposed to beans, tofu, or even chicken. Also, this thing was made by the federal government, which was under a mountain of pressure from various food lobbying groups that dumped an absolute mountain of cash into getting their preferred amount of servings listed. On top of everything else, some groups have their MAXIMUM serving listed, while others have their MINIMUM listed. What the hell is that crap? I’ll tell you what it is: intentionally misleading.

 

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