The 1980s were a glorious time of cartoons that didn’t need to have any sort of educational value. And when they tried to do so, it was always through thinly-veiled Public Service Announcements thrown in to fill a cartoon’s running time at the end of the show. There may have been five minutes left going into that commercial break, but the story was wrapped up, and it was time to teach the young ones a “lesson.”
With the advent of the Children’s Television Act of 1990, this method of education became a relic of the decade we had just come out of, but for those of us who grew up during that time, it was awesome. We will forever cherish the time when “educational” involved He-Man and She-Ra discussing Bad Touch, a member of GI Joe taught me about proper skin care in the sun (and how not to fall off a cliff), and when we didn’t care what the Transformers had to teach us…we were just fascinated that they COULD teach us something.
And kids today are so much smarter than we ever were. Can’t find the correlation, can you?
Do you remember the scene in Superman: The Movie where Lois Lane is interviewing Superman and Supes gives Lois a quick lung cancer check? I love that scene, and I’ve often wondered if it helped influence anyone to stop them smoking. Having the Man of Steel confirm the smoking/cancer link must surely have given some people a reason to think about quitting.
I recently discovered that in 1979 America’s Health Education Council used Superman to convey a similar message. “With my amazing X-Ray vision I can see the HARM cigarettes do inside people’s bodies. That’s why I don’t SMOKE!”. I couldn’t have said it better.
The same education council used Nick O’Teen as a bad guy with bad breath and stinky clothes who smokes so much he puffs and pants like a broken down steam engine!
I also found that the American Lung Association has Supes tackling asthma with their 1982 Super Stuff PSA:
You might think that Superman should be trusted in these matters, but this comic image sends a very different message:
Just remember folks, crush the evil Nick O’Teen, hijacker of health, foe of the fit, NEVER SAY YES TO A CIGARETTE!
This 1963 bicycle safety film has kids dressed up as monkeys with weird nicknames and did I mention it has kids dressed up as monkeys? Well actually not fully dressed up as monkeys, but instead kids with masks and weird tails riding bikes. Watch as the one by one the kids are picked off through traffic accidents, stupidity and general slothfulness as they try and bike to the park to have a picnic lunch. I like when the one gets crushed by a steamroller. Nice! Eventually only one monkey is left and he gets to eat all the lunches, hence the “One Got Fat” title.
I think Roald Dahl and certain members of DEVO would appreciate this movie.