Strange 2008 Anti-Drug Website, Plus Flashbacks

A Parent's Guide to the Teen Brain

A Parent's Guide to the Teen Brain

Just when you thought that weird Anti-Drug PSAs were a thing of the 70’s…

Tonight I encountered the above banner ad (I split the animation into 2 images). And yes, although the guy above looks like he’s out of the 1970’s this is a current ad.

But wait “Teen Brain Guide”? That seemed kinda odd. So I clicked through. And it only got weirder.

Normal Teenage Attitude

The site is by Partnership for a Drug-Free America which I had at least heard of before. So I hoped it would start to make more sense. No such luck.

It’s really an odd site, confusing as to even what the point is. It talks about some odd ways your kid may be behaving but then seem to say these may NOT indicate your child is on drugs.

The site claims to have “the science in a nutshell” that explains all of this wacky mysterious behavior. Awesome!! Cuz it was getting confusing.

But if you want said nut-encased info, the link they offer you leads to a registration form:

A Parent's Guide to the Teen Brain

Hey now! That’s a tactic that adult film sites (so I hear) or other folks trying to sell something or get my personal information use. It’s weird to bump into on a site that’s supposed to be providing a vital public health service. Why won’t they just tell me? Isn’t it in everybody’s interest for parents to better understand their kids? What gives?

And there’s the video, shown on the right above, of a doctor talking to parents and children about drugs. This also hints at science without ever actually offering up any. And when the medical professional appears in front of an issue of Teen Brain Times… it kinda undercuts the credibility. I half expect the credit to read Dr. Troy McClure, University of Springfield.

Oh, and I forgot to note that the form is accompanied by an option to receive the latest information and new parenting tools from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Which is checked by default, so you’d be opted-in to the PDFA tool-of-the-month club.

Weird? Is it just me?

They use a relatively interesting art style (kinda like old Mad Magazine meets Maurice Sendak with a little Rug Rats thrown in), so that at least comes off well.

But wasn’t there supposed to be some brain science here somewhere? I guess if I registered they’d fulfill the promise to help me: Gain insights into teen brain development and apply your new knowledge of normal teenage behavior to real life. Sweet. What’s “real life”?

And what does this have to do with Mr Tinted-shades in the banner ad and how a job in computing makes you a grownup??!! I mean I know that one’s not true.

If you are brave enough to actually click through (I’m not… paranoid??) and get details of the post-registration experience, feel free to let us all know in the comments.

I just think it’s creepy. And there’s more, I found another PDFA site that’s even hipper than this one, check out the with-it lingo, you squares:

Got 5 minutes? It really could rock your world! Okay, that’s likely over the top, but it certainly can answer your questions and benefit every aspect of your relationship with your teen — and their health!

You’ll find that “straight” talk at Decoder: Breaking down teen culture, substance abuse, and parenting. Breaking it down!! In the good way, I suppose.

Turns out that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America are the fine folks responsible for the This is Your Brain on Drugs ad from the 80’s. It was 21 years ago, and thereby hangs a series of flashbacks, starting with the original commercial…

Then in 1998 Rachael Leigh Cook updated the egg-fryingpan relationship:

Today the PDFA, understanding the importance of their place in pop culture, have a page dedicated to the history of their egg-as-brain metaphor, it includes this priceless tidbit about how sound design leads to appreciation:

When the original idea for the “Fried Egg” spot was presented to the Partnership’s Creative Review Committee, it received mix reviews. It wasn’t until the voiceover and “sizzle” sound effects were added that it came to life and was truly appreciated!

Truly. And the Fried Egg spot was just one ally amongst the coalition of media mobilized to fight “The War on Drugs“. It was and is a war that lends itself nicely to a highlight reel, so below are key clips from the battlefield.

Nancy Reagan famously chaired the Just Say No campaign. On the Reagan Foundation page they refer to it as “Mrs. Reagan’s Crusade“. Here’s the iconic ad from that campaign:

Then of course there was RAD (Rock Against Drugs–get it?). This campaign dates back to that bizarre and troubling time in our nation’s history when MTV showed music videos. Thank goodness that’s over, huh?

The RAD stable of spokes-rockers leaned rather heavily on the Metal stars, so here are two prime examples.

Gene Simmons “You believe that crap?” is, in my opinion, the best anti-drug message ever. Because it’s cool. Which may be the wrong reason. But I have to say that, looking back now, it has remained damn cool which is more than we can say for Gene himself these days:

Vince Neil “I’m on top of everything I do…”, I bet you are Vince:

As a bonus, for anyone who is absolutely hooked on drug PSAs at this point, here’s a pretty funny round up of the Top 11 funniest nostalgic drug PSAs. Somehow he doesn’t include the Gene Simmons one, but there are a lot of other great ones.

See Previously:

1970 Anti-Drug PSA by Hanna-Barbera
Spiders on Drugs


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.