Archive | March, 2016

PSA

23 Mar

“Knowing is half the battle.”

-Roadblock, ranking member of elite military force, G.I. Joe

“I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared!!”

-Jessica Spano after taking one too many caffeine pills on a very special episode of Saved by the Bell

Hello again, Gentle Reader. Time for one of my patented, long-form blog posts! I can feel your excitement; how it nourishes me. As you regulars are well aware, I’m kind of obsessed with the 1980s. And why not? It was a radical, super-awesome, amazing decade. The technology, the fashions, the casual cocaine use – none of it has been surpassed. I know this because I spent a bit of time in the ‘80s. Granted, there were a few oddities to be found in the decade (I cannot for the life of me explain all the goddamn neon colors), but there is one particularly curious nugget of nostalgia on which I’d like to focus today: the ‘80s obsession with the PSA.

“What does PSA mean?” you may be asking yourself if you’re a caveman – sorry, caveperson – frozen in ice millennia ago and recently thawed out. If so, let me be the first to welcome you to the wonders of the 21st century! Those big metal birds in the sky are called “airplanes” and we use them to travel. Those round-footed animals speeding right towards you are called “cars” and are also used for transportation. Please don’t hurl spears at them; they’re not food. Don’t worry, you’ll adjust and soon be bitching about the ridiculously slow speeds at which the entirety of humanity’s knowledge is delivered to your mobile device like the rest of us.

A PSA is a Public Service Announcement; basically a commercial for how dope it is to look both way before crossing the street or how totally bogus it is to burn to death in a fire because your parents didn’t replace the batteries in the smoke detector. And sure, they were pretty prevalent throughout the ‘90s as well and they’re still around today, but the ‘80s, man. That was the golden age of the PSA. There were so many that they clearly ran out of useful topics to cover. To wit, I present to you quite possibly the dumbest PSA of not just the ‘80s, but all time:

Did you watch it? If you did, I apologize because…

I’ve just sucked 30 seconds of your life away.

Rugen

For those of you who didn’t watch it, here’s the rundown: Louis the Lifeguard is apparently a dwarf who lives on a dining room table in some David Lynchian nightmare of anthropomorphic, fully cooked foodstuffs. Though prepared for human consumption after having been either plucked from the earth or lain by chickens, they remain quite alive and bizarrely cheery.

That is until one of them starts to drown.

No need to fear though, Louis is on that shit. He sees a potato screaming for help as it sinks oh so slowly in a quagmire of sour cream and plucks it from certain doom. Then the purpose of the PSA kicks in as he sings the following:

Don’t drown your food!/In mayo or ketchup or goop./Yuck!/It’s no fun to eat what you can’t even see, so don’t drown your food!!!

There’s a lot to mentally unpack here. Again, the food is alive, but can apparently die if you douse it in condiments. The food WANTS to die, but only by your mouth and then only if you munch it in its purest, most unadulterated — hell I’ll just come out and say it — bare-ass naked form. It’s all very cult-like

More to the point, the sole reason this thing even exists is to keep kids from using condiments. It has no higher purpose. Not don’t smoke, don’t use drugs, don’t talk to strangers, but, “Hey fuckers, consider eating those fries sans ketchup.”

And is this really a path worth walking? To children, vegetables taste like the bitter remnants of their most terrifying nightmares sprinkled with dirt. Getting them to ingest them under any circumstances is a minor miracle. And let’s be honest: that doesn’t change much in adulthood, does it? Vegetables still taste terrible even to mature and refined taste buds; the only difference is that we eat them because we know we have to. Whenever someone says something like, “Have you tasted these Brussels sprouts? OMG! They’re so good!” I want to slap that person in the face and let him know that I know he’s a filthy liar and/or living in denial. Because I’ve tried the Brussels sprouts and they taste like they were dropped from the sulfuric butthole of some wretched, demonic hell-beast that itself was shat from the darkest, most putrid depths of the underworld. Besides, it’s not like adults ever practice what we preach to children. Have you ever seen someone eat a plain salad? No, you haven’t and if you ever did, you would assume that person to be insane and you would not be wrong.

Just look at this bullshit.

Just look at this bullshit.

Salads are terrible without meat, croutons, bacon bits, and some kind of dressing. So if a kid wants to slather some sour cream or ranch, ketchup or mayo on those vile, earthen abominations to make them slightly more palatable, who the fuck is anyone – especially Louis the fucking lifeguard –  to tell them otherwise? Fuck that guy.

That’s only the most egregious example of the commercial length PSA from the ’80s. Go to YouTube and search “’80s PSA” if you want to torture yourself by watching more, but there was another more insidious way in which the ’80s abused the PSA: the “Very Special Episode.” This was a PSA disguised as a sitcom so when you tuned in expecting laughs, you instead got the bait and switch treatment. The results were always traumatizing or at the very least uncomfortable and unsettling. You weren’t an ‘80s show until you had your own Very Special Episode. Whether it was Dudley getting groped by Gordon Jump on Diff’rent Strokes, Arnold and Kimberly getting kidnapped on Diff’rent Strokes, or Sam getting kidnapped on…Diff’rent Strokes (What the fuck, Diff’rent Strokes???), there was no shortage of ways to traumatize ‘80s kids to, ostensibly, make us aware of danger and thus safer because of it. Need examples other than Diff’rent Strokes? No problem: the above quoted Saved by the Bell was about the dangers of abusing “drugs” (in quotes because fucking caffeine pills are not drugs); Family Ties did an episode featuring an alcoholic Tom Hanks(!) getting drunk and wailing on Alex; Punky Brewster did an episode about Punky’s bestie getting locked in a discarded refrigerator and nearly suffocating; DJ had an eating disorder in an episode of Full House; Wesley got fondled on Mr. Belvedere; Mike got offered coke (the drug, not the sugary beverage) on Growing Pains; and, for the love of God, Steve Urkel rapped about gun control on an episode of Family Matters. Oh, and then there’s the time Kimberly suffered from bulimia on — Jesus Christ — Diff’rent Strokes.

This man should not be allowed to care for children.

This man should not be allowed to care for children.

I say all that to lead into my very own PSA. That’s right, this entire rant was a deception. I Keyser Söze’d you. Don’t be mad; my intentions are noble. Please tamp down your hatred and read on.

If you have a landline (and if you’re a Comcast subscriber they practically force it upon you), you’ve no doubt received or will receive a call from Microsoft or Google. These fine folks will inform you that your computer is in distress and sending out error messages and virus alerts in a desperate attempt to keep its poor head above water. How do they know this? They’re Microsoft and Google; they know everything. All you have to do is give them access to your computer and that pesky credit card number you have and they’ll happily steal all your money, files, and personal data for you. You didn’t want that stuff anyway, right?

I’ve researched this scam quite a bit because I get at least eight of these calls per day. Oh, and you cellphone only people sitting up there in your ivory towers, uh, whittling ivory or whatever and silently judging the rest of us? Yeah, they’ve started calling cellphone numbers too.

So what can you do? Well, apparently no one in authority is doing anything about this because they can’t be bothered to give a single fuck. I can only assume there must be some kind of fuck shortage for which they’re preparing.

“Whatevs, I’ll just block the number,” you say. “Ha!” I retort back because my wit is that razor sharp. Block one number, a new one pops up. They’re like Hydra in that way. Now personally, I like to answer the phone and pretend I’m both hard of hearing AND touching myself. That really makes them mad, which makes me happy because I draw my power from the bitterness of others.

I could just chalk this up as a mild annoyance, but they’re ripping people off — mostly older, vulnerable people. That makes them the worst type of parasite there is (yes, even worse than that one that swims up your peehole and makes its home there). In addition, I’ve read that they often say very inappropriate and vulgar things when asked to stop calling. This will not stand.

I implore all of you to mercilessly fuck with these people when they inevitably call you. Not all of you have the time that I do to alternately shout, “WHAT?” and moan in ecstasy to torment them, so I recommend picking up a police whistle or an air horn. When they go into their routine, blow it right in their ear. If enough of us start doing that, the calls will stop. We can do this!

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