Monday, 5 January 2009

A Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcements (or PSAs) were rampant in the 80's and 90's. If He-Man wasn't telling you about the bad touch, G.I. Joe troops were explaining why it's a bad idea to play in rusted old refrigerators. But as the decades wore on, the messages took a darker tone beating kids over the head with anti-drug lobbying thinly disguised as fun cartoons. Basically, putting a pleasant and colorful face on things your lazy parents should be telling you.

Today we're going to look at two of both my favorites and most irritatingly annoying that taught me about not jumping on band saws and oral hygiene.

First up is everyone's favorite boybot from the Planet Danger, ASTAR!

This golden daredevil was created by the War Amps as their spokesbot for the PLAYSAFE program.

Basically, the War Amps were caving to the Darwinism theory while growing tired of outfitting stupid kids with plastic limbs.

The solution? Make a commercial that looked like C-3PO was performing acrobats around the set of Blade Runner.

I never really understood this part. Is he jumping through light beams? Toxic gas? Shiiiiit dude, try walking around a club with lasers and smoke and five vodka Redbulls running through your veins. THEN tell me this was some great and daring leap.

Ps, nice arse.

The climax of the plot came when ASTAR jumped upside down in the buzz saw room and got his arm lopped off. As would be expected under such circumstances.

In the end, ASTAR finds his messed up arm and reattaches it with blue light. He then exclaims those glorious and infamous words:

I am ASTAR, a robot. I can put my arm back on. You can't. So play
I dunno about you, but even as a pretty dumb kid, I was far more prone to play with a wheat thresher or that tractor that'd tip over at the slightest breeze instead of in a room full of spinning blades or exposed wires. That's just kinky shit.

Did I get the metaphors? Sure. Did it stop me? Hells no. It just gave me a cool line to say while I was jumping out of trees onto lawn mowers.

Next up was a commercial that was just annoying when I was a kid but took on a whooole other nasty connotation as I became a perverted cartoon-obsessed shut in.

"Don't You Put it in Your Mouth" was a simple concept about two blue monsters with turrets syndrome playing the ukulele and breaking into song about ingesting poisons as a cast of reject Muppets joins them in song. Marketing genius!

Upon looking at it again, however, I only now understand why my big brother had to leave the room in tears every time it came on. Think I'm sick? Let's examine the lyrics:

Don't you put it in your mouth;
don't stuff it in your face;
though it might look good to eat;
and it might look good to taste.

You could get sick!
Real quick!
Real sick, real...

Don't you put it in you mouth.
'Til you ask someone you love.
That's right, sis!
If its okay to eat;
Like a muffin or a beet!

If you don't know just what it is
(Remember boys and girls)
Don't puuuut it innnn your mouth

Yup. If I had any class, I'd leave it at that. But here we are.

Here we see a lovely red mound you shouldn't eat. Obviously the muff(in) they were talking about before screaming 'ick... which, of course, rhymes wiiith...

And correct me if I'm wrong but if I had to ask someone I loved if I could put something in my mouth, I'd get smacked upside the head. Then again, if I put something in my mouth by someone I didn't love, I could get sick... real quick even. And need freaky antibiotics.

This is really common sense kinda stuff here and I refuse to give these two monsters with body twitches any credit in my clean streak.

So what did I learn from these commercials as a young'un? Childless studio heads and barren marketing whores have no idea how to approach "issues" with kids. I knew it then and hot damn it's even more obvious now.