On Saturday morning, April 21, 1990, something pretty special hit the airwaves. A cartoon cross-over of epic proportions. Joining forces were: Bugs Bunny, Garfield, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Muppet Babies Kermit, Gonzo and Miss Piggy, the Smurfs, Alf, Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Huey, Dewey and Louie of Ducktales, and Ghostbusters Slimer.
What were these beloved cartoon characters coming together to do?
Warn children about the dangers of doing drugs.
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue aired commercial-free on all four major networks (Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS), as well as on many independent local stations and other cable networks.
When it was released on VHS, the special was book-ended with a message from Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities, featuring special needs and disabled kids singing “Love Lifted Me”. If this entire presentation — so very clearly packaged with a great deal of thought, care and love for the innocent among us — doesn’t touch your heart, then you don’t have a soul.
In each of the major countries the special aired in, that country’s leader filmed an introduction to the short. In the United States, it was President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; in Canada, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney; in Spain, Queen consort Sofía of Spain; and when it aired in Chile in 1995, it was then First Lady Marta de Frei introducing it.
This production was a big deal. So many different cartoon licencees had to give permission for use, and all of the characters retained their original voice actors (with the exception of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck — Mel Blanc passed away shortly before this was produced so Jeff Bergman provides the voices in this). As I understand it, the characters were licensed for free because this was created as a public service announcement, and geared towards helping children.
The film has a run-time of about 32 minutes, and some kind soul has uploaded it to YouTube in excellent quality. So please, if you have a half hour, sit down and watch this — no matter your age, but especially if you have children. I promise, it’s worth your time.
I don’t recall watching this when I was a kid (I would have been just under 4 when it originally aired in April 1990), but seeing all the cartoon characters that I grew up with come together in this production to share a message that is tragically non-existent today, especially in the media, touched me deeper than I thought it would.
I do remember a few PSAs from my childhood, some anti-drug-specific, others just good common sense teaching for kids put out by the non-profit organization Concerned Children’s Advertisers — short Canadian commercials whose jingles I can STILL sing word for word some 30 years later.
This one, “Don’t Put It In Your Mouth”, was certainly the catchiest:
Another staple of Saturday morning Canadian television in the ’90s was the Stay Alert, Stay Safe rabbits, Bert and Gert — PSAs that apparently were created to raise awareness after the murder of 11-year-old Alison Parrott in 1986.
Teenage drug use and of course “Stranger Danger” was — and IS — a real thing, and throughout the early ’90s, advertisers and government recognized the importance of raising awareness, both in children themselves and in their parents, and a lot of effort was put into creating these types of public service announcements. Considering that at nearly 35 years old, I can STILL remember them clear as day? And neither myself, nor my best friends, have ever done drugs or gotten into this sort of trouble? I’d say it was time and money well spent.
I wanted to share a few more of the gems that I grew up with, and was excited to see the above compilation video, “PSA Collection – Concerned Children’s Advertisers” pop up on YouTube.
What I am NOT excited to see is that YouTube has made this an age-restricted video, meaning they think it’s not appropriate for children — the very people all of these PSAs were created for.
And honestly, it couldn’t have dovetailed into the message of this post any better. What I want to discuss is what the bloody hell happened that in a mere 30 years we have gone from freely licensed public service announcements designed to keep children safe from the evils of drugs and wicked people, to GOVERNMENT OWNED AND OPERATED POT SHOPS IN CANADA. Shops that communities are not ALLOWED to opt OUT of.
Excuse my language, but what the actual F*CK?
We’re constantly being bombarded with positive reinforcement that our “modernized” society is SO much better than anything that came before it. We’re SO progressive in our thinking. We’re SO “enlightened” with our beliefs and values (or lack thereof, would be more accurate). There is no God! Drugs aren’t bad for you! There’s no such thing as gender! The law is just a suggestion! Right and wrong is subjective! And the real kicker: When life gets tough, just kill yourself!
Wow. REAL progressive, amiright?
If this is the pinnacle of “civilized” development, then imaginary or not, God save us all!
The only direction we’re going as a society is backwards. We now favour Falsehood and Hatred over Truth and Love. The only “acceptable” reason for showing kindness and love to your neighbour is so that he’ll owe you one. Everything is about self today. What can you do for ME? What can I do for MYSELF? What will make ME happy? What do I need to do to get what *I* want? Follow your heart… who cares if others get hurt?
Because this mentality, this behaviour, always comes with consequences and casualties. We could go a lot deeper into this, but for today, let’s focus on the casualties at hand: The children.
In the ’20s and ’30s, ’40s and the ’50s, men and women sacrificed greatly to create peace and freedom. But their children were so spoiled by this freedom that many of them unfortunately came to resent it. Not all of them, but enough lazy, selfish brats to cause a serious problem — a problem that we’re still dealing with today. Their parents and grandparents had sacrificed so heavily for them that they never learned how to be grateful — because they themselves never had to give up anything. So they started viewing their freedom as oppression, and rebelled against every good thing that had been handed to them.
The ’60s and ’70s were NOT a wonderful time of “peace and love, man”! I gag every time I watch a documentary where they’re touting Woodstock as some sort of heavenly Mecca — a time and place we should be striving for again. What’s missing from that heavily doctored and perverted narrative is the TRUTH: And the truth is that Drugs. Are. Bad.
A few years ago, just before Canada decided to crucify its logic and common sense, there was an entire section of the government’s official website dedicated to decades of study on the negative effects that illicit drug use has, especially on young people with developing brains. Explaining in great detail why these drugs are illegal and NOT suitable for recreational use. And YES, that includes marijuana.
These web pages were accessible to everyone, and were promoted whenever some brain-dead hippy reject came along crying about how we needed to get with the times and legalize marijuana. We already had provisions in Canada for medicinal use, but geez, what’s the fun if everyone can’t do whatever they want, right??
I wish I had screenshotted every last page. But who would ever think THOSE would disappear?? Decades of science! Decades of severely retarded citizens, left brain-fried from drug use! Decades of people dying with needles in their arm, dying because they got high and drove off a cliff, and killing innocent bystanders while under the influence.
We have known that DRUGS ARE BAD FOR YOU since the ’60s!!!
By the time the late ’80s and early ’90s had come around, society was accepting of this TRUTH. And we were determined to try and protect our children from the negative effects — like BRAIN DAMAGE and DEATH — which drug use brings.
So how did we get here, to 2021? Where it’s not only legal to go out and buy some pot and smoke it, but it’s encouraged? And it’s the government selling it to you!?
Those government web pages I talked about? GONE. Not a single trace of them left online. As a collective society, we said, “Common sense? Science? Pft, who needs you! I don’t like it, so it isn’t true! Nya!”
And who will suffer as a result of this if not the children? Children who will once again be enticed to do drugs and destroy their brains, and potentially the lives of others too when they cause an accident, or do something criminal while under the influence. Children who will also suffer from having drug addict parents, who when life gets rough, hide from their responsibilities by doping up to tune it all out. Hey, if I just ignore it, it’ll go away, right?
Yeah, great plan.
We’ve even “progressed” to the point where we feel that a 17-year-old child, while still considered too IMMATURE to vote, visit a bar, or choose to follow a religion, IS mature enough to cut off his genitals, have an abortion, OR choose to have an assisted suicide if he feels that his life isn’t up to snuff.
I mean… do I really need to comment anything further on that? Kind of speaks for itself.
It’s a travesty. That’s the only word for it. If you really believe that we’re advancing and progressing as a race of human beings, you’re delusional and fooling yourself. Just look around you. This incessant “cancel” culture, the double standards of lawbreaking, the immediate censorship of those who don’t share your ideas or opinions, the idea that racism is only racism when it’s this particular group against another but not vice versa, the complete lack of awareness of basic right and wrong… who in their right mind would bring a child into THIS world?
But all is not lost. This doesn’t have to be the end of reason and logic. If you do have a child, then please, love him or her enough to teach the TRUTH to them. “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.” (Fulton Sheen)
Like Bugs Bunny says to Michael in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue: “Everyone’s got problems, kid, even us rabbits. The point is that no one gets everything they want. What’s important is what’s in here, what makes you YOU. You gotta believe in yourself.”
Believing in yourself means having enough self-respect to do the right thing — even if it’s not the “cool” thing to do according to LOSERS. Whether that means helping someone in need; being kind to strangers; reminding your children over and over and over again about the things that are bad for them, that will hurt them; or just saying NO to drugs… you can do it. You can make a difference. You don’t have to go along with the herd, because the real PSA is that the herd is heading for a damn cliff, and by God, I hope you don’t really want to tumble over the edge with them to your death (literally or figuratively).
Values don’t change. All that changes is our willingness to protect and uphold them. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. The truth is not subjective. Ignoring your problems won’t make them go away. Self-medicating will not help you.
Society, media and even government may have given up on protecting the Golden Rule, but we don’t have to follow suit. Someone cared enough to preserve these PSAs and make them available to watch online. And I’m caring enough to tell you that they’re still out there, and they’re still worth showing your children.
Because at the end of the day, children are only the product of what WE make them. So the question is, what kind of future do you want for those children? Do you want a world that doesn’t care what happens to them? A world that tries to pervert and poison them, that teaches that life isn’t of value, that life isn’t worth fighting for?
May we all strive to live by example; even the modest and humble example presented by a bunch of cartoon characters in a 31-year-old anti-drug PSA…