10 Educational Uses for Old PSAs

Through the years, public service announcements have either caused television audiences to examine their personal behavior or laugh out loud. The effectiveness of PSAs is dependent on their ability to grab the attention of the audience with which they’re trying to connect. But in many cases, they tend to be clumsily made, seemingly mocking the people they seek to educate. Despite the unintentional comedy, they still remain educational, though they may not deliver the messages intended by their creators. Here are 10 educational uses for old PSAs.

  1. Educational Use: Learning how to get out of trouble with your parents
    PSA: "Parents Who Use Drugs"

    Seeing your parents partake in vices like smoking pot gives you free reign to do the same. Just know that when they confront you about it, you have to yell "I learned it by watching you" and they’ll do nothing but stare back at you with guilt-ridden eyes. Also, when attempting to hide something from your parents, find a less obvious hiding place than your closet.

  2. Educational Use: Learning why cocaine is a hell of a drug
    PSA: "Everybody’s on Cocaine"

    This PSA sure makes a compelling case for using cocaine. We’re told that it gives you a feeling that’s like a sexual climax intensified times 100, provides you with the energy and fortitude to surf, and is preferable to playing professional baseball. What’s more, rats love cocaine too and will take it until they kill themselves. So by leaving a little coke around the house, you can solve your rodent problem without calling an exterminator, who could expose you to harmful chemicals.

  3. Educational Use: Learning who not to pick for a serious PSA campaign
    PSA: "Don’t Even Try It"

    All the stops were pulled during the ’80s War on Drugs, including the use of several celebrities to deliver messages intended to scare the public into just saying "no." Interestingly, Pee-wee Herman was featured in one anti-crack PSA despite the fact that his act somewhat resembled a person on crack.

  4. Educational Use: Learning to choose your words wisely
    PSA: "Drug Abuse is the New Slavery"

    The creators of this PSA probably thought the analogy sounded good when they were brainstorming. But opening old wounds in an effort to heal new ones usually isn’t the best idea, especially when it involves comparing the horror of forced slavery to drug addiction. So when you’re filming a PSA and want to make an emotional appeal to your audience, be sure to consider their sensibilities.

  5. Educational Use: Learning to accept people who are different
    PSA: "One Never Knows When the Homosexual is About"

    Many old timers will have you believe that the ’50s were a moral golden age for America, and perhaps it’s true in some respects. However, the era was far from perfect when it came to the treatment of certain people, as evidenced by this classic PSA that urges teenage boys to be wary of lurking homosexuals who will charm their pants off.

  6. Educational Use: Learning another perspective relating to sex education
    PSA: "VD is for Everybody"

    Make no mistake – VD isn’t just for people with cavalier attitudes about sex, but it’s also for regular folks like ballet dancers and elementary school teachers. In fact, if you’re a well-meaning and productive member of society, you can pretty much expect to get VD and enjoy it. You won’t find a more pleasant or positive PSA.

  7. Educational Use: Children’s psychiatric awareness
    PSA: "The Finishing Line"

    After watching this PSA, two things are apparent: 1) If your child is daydreaming about his peers being hit by trains, then he or she needs immediate psychiatric help. 2) Although you’re likely to be killed instantly if you’re hit by a train, the carnage isn’t nearly as bad as we’ve been led to believe.

  8. Educational Use: Learning the value of eye sight
    PSA: "One Got Fat"

    Want to bike safely? Don’t wear a monkey mask while riding nine blocks to the park. Not only will you be less likely to drive through an intersection or hit pedestrians on the sidewalk, but you’ll also be able to see if members of your crew disappear. Of course, if they had worn helmets, perhaps a couple of them wouldn’t have met their demise on the trip.

  9. Educational Use: Learning that candlesticks were once a hot commodity in England
    PSA: "Strange Caller"

    Hide your candlesticks like you’d hide your family silver. According to this British PSA from the ’80s, a friendly intruder may charm you until he’s given an opportunity to spend some alone time with them, leaving you watching in agony through your window. It’s not a good idea to stand aside and idly giggle when an obviously untrustworthy stranger is attempting to gain your confidence.

  10. Educational Use: Observing how quickly technology advances
    PSA: "Don’t Copy That Floppy"

    A few years before the large-scale crackdown on music file sharing became front page news, the Software Publishers Association (SPA) – which is now the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) – attempted to discourage the piracy of computer games with floppy discs by creating a several minute-long rap song that explained exactly why it’s wrong. It’s an excellent look into the early days of personal computers, games, graphics, piracy and rap.

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