The 6 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Old School PSAs

#3. Marijuana Leads to Heroin Abuse, Pretty Much Immediately

As Learned From:

"The Terrible Truth" (1951), "Drug Addiction" (1951), "Narcotics: Pit of Despair" (1967) and too many others to list.

The old school anti-drug educational films didn't change much from the time they were introduced in the 50s, right through the Reagan 80s. You always had the message that marijuana would lead straight to heroin, and you always got the impression the film makers knew almost nothing about the actual effects:

For those of you keeping score at home, marijuana will make you think you're a hilarious Godzilla ...

...swallow glass...

...and forget the concept of a three-inch curb.

Adding to the horror is the film's devious dealer.

Far from content to let the drugs sell themselves, his hard-sell tactics include orchestrating a swinging party to entrap young football stars into his lair.

Take a close look at the face of the naive victim. Recognize him? It's John Locke's dad on Lost!


Holy shit, what an amazingly convenient screenshot from Lost.

"Narcotics: Pit of Despair" makes up for all this with probably the greatest narrator in the history of educational films. In a tone that is supposed to highlight the fallacy of counter-culture thinking, the narrator uses words common to hippie slang, but says it in a dry tone that makes it clear he disapproves. "It's just their supplier, Pete. And his number one chick. And a new guy looking for kicks. Forget it, man and get with the countdown. Shake this square world and blast off for kicksville."

When you watched this, you knew you were hearing the soothing tones of what had to be the whitest voice in history.

#2. Evacuating After a Nuclear Attack Makes You a Pussy and a Traitor

As Learned From:

"Our Cities Must Fight" (1951) In this classic Cold War scare tactic film, two ponderous newsmen wax philosophical about how much people are needed in the aftermath of an atomic attack, even going as far as to suggest that self-preservation is for commie cowards. Why, someone has to pick up debris and feed the masses! And it sure as shit won't be the U.S. government, you unpatriotic assholes!

"Our Cities Must Fight" was made by Archer Studios was aimed at disillusioned city folk who were just coming off a World War and weren't all that excited about another one. So, Civil Defense commissioned this short film to inform the population that their fear of becoming a radioactive flesh-eating mutant meant the commies had already won.

As a mustachioed man puffs on his pipe and thinks deeply about what the punishment should be for civilians wishing to get their families to safety (an act he equates with treason) the editor of the paper reassures us that, "After an atomic air-burst the danger of radiation and falling debris is over in about a minute and a half."

So, strap on those boots, Americans! We've got fallout to clean! Don't bother with the gloves, either, because the radiation magically disappears after about 90 seconds!

Seriously, what piece of advice could possibly be worse than that?

#1. "Duck and Cover" Will Save You From an Atomic Blast

As Learned From:

"Duck and Cover" (1952), probably the most famous of the Red Scare educational films. "Duck and Cover" taught young school children the basics of nuclear bomb survival. Particularly, "Duck! And cover!" That's about it.


Also they used a cartoon turtle to illustrate their point.

Of course that won't do shit for you besides assuring your charred corpse will be found curled into the fetal position, cowering under a desk. The film goes on to suggest that covering yourself with a thin blanket can ward off the dangers of falling debris, shock waves and deadly levels of radiation. Even wrapping your fool head with dry, flammable newspaper can help! Hey, why not?

Watching this film, you can almost see the conception of the 60s counter-culture.

"Fuck it," these kids probably thought, "if our government is going to lie to us on this grand of a scale, we might as well get really high."

The film was made by Archer Studios (The same studio behind "Our Cities Must Fight") and was commissioned by the Federal Civil Defense Administration. It came under fire at the time for both instilling a culture of fear and giving incredibly retarded advice.

To be fair, we're not sure what kind of instruction could have been given to children in the 1950s. Though some emergency marijuana and porn rations would have probably done more to help morale.

For bizarre PSAs not produced by the US Government check out The 10 Most Disturbing PSAs From Around the World. Or find out about some action stars whose careers had a less than happy ending in The 5 Most Ineffective Anti-Drug PSAs of All Time.

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