Rise Above the Influence

by Allie Feras

“I smoked weed, and nobody died….”

So opens a recent TV spot from the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a program of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The ad continues by showing the narrator sitting on the couch of his friend “Pete,” explaining how nothing bad happened when he tried marijuana. However, he decides to get up off the couch and not smoke weed anymore because he saw more exciting things to do than sit on Pete’s couch.

The campaign’s website says, Our goal is to help you stay above the influence. The more aware you are of the influences around you, the better prepared you will be to stand up to the pressures that keep you down.”

The premise of the campaign is that because teenagers are bombarded everyday by pressures from friends and the media, they should be more well-informed and think about what they are doing before they make decisions that could affect their lives. The ad series focuses not only on drug use, but also on drinking, smoking, and premarital sex.

Other ads in the series include one featuring a girl who has been squished by all the pressures put on her by the “cool kids” to do drugs and have sex.

The website (called "Above The Influence") even concedes that it is just another media influence, saying, “We're not telling you how to live your life, but are giving you another perspective and the latest facts. You need to make your own smart decisions.”

But from the looks of both the website and the TV ads, the only smart decision is their decision. The campaign implies that anyone who gives into these evil pressures to drink, do drugs and have sex is weak, while the characters featured in the ads rise above the influence and go ice skating instead. So much for personal choice!

While old anti-drug commercials were mocked because of their extreme claims about the dangers of marijuana, "Above The Influence" admits that it’s really not all that bad, just boring. But which is more ridiculous? Telling a lie that says: “This is bad, don’t do it?” Or sending the message: “This won’t hurt you, don’t do it anyway?”

Either way, "Above The Influence" is no different from any other similar campaign; it’s just another waste of taxpayer dollars that would be far better spent on real education.

(Photo used with a Creative Commons License from Flickr. Photo by awethum. For a sample of the "Above the Influence" advertising campaign, see below.)

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Doc said...

Excellent essary, Allie!

I'll probably link it at GreenState Project and I would invite you and others to consider visiting the site.

The Green State Project is a web-based consortium of writers and activists producing news and editorial commentary supporting reform of cannabis laws and the ending of cannabis prohibition.

It is a 2 year project launching in January of 2007 and its purpose is to move cannabis reform issues in the the mainstream of American political discourse prior to the November 2008 elections.

Anonymous said...

I gotta be honest with you - when I first saw that ad on television, I wasn't quite sure what it was trying to say. I almost thought it was telling kids that it was OK to smoke weed. If that's their new anti-drug tactic, it's a little confusing, at least to me. If they're going to make a point with youths, they shouldn't be so subtle. Smashing eggs conveys a more effective "Drugs BAD!" type of message. They should have stuck to that.


Rick Rockwell said...

Unfortunately, Allie is no longer blogging with us, so she may not want to answer.

I will say that commercial is a classic. If folks still remember it, then it has certainly been effective.

Anonymous said...

I will say people remember it, but as a joke. Everyone Ive talked to about it loves these commercials because they're funny on how inacurate they are. Notice how they attack the person instead of the plant. I personally think they should stop wasting our tax money on this. It has shown to be incredibly ineffective.

Rick Rockwell said...

I think we all agree on this blog about how ineffective the government's policies have been in this area. For a fresher take, please check out ”America’s Dopey Drug Policy”.

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