“If a commercial seems to serve no function whatsoever, or if you’re uncertain what point it’s trying to make (or why), then it’s likely a public service ad,” musician and cultural critic Boyd Rice writes in his essay “Passive Activism”. “To comply with regulations set by the FCC,” he explains, “every station has to devote a certain amount of time to broadcasting material that’s ‘in the public interest.'”

Many of the “public service” announcements this reviewer remembers suffering through during his years as an adolescent couch potato came courtesy of NBC’s unfailingly unsettling “The More You Know” series, which featured television stars trying to ruin the viewer’s day by offering little sound bites about depressing topics.

Sleazoid Night Court attorney Dan Fielding, aka John Larroquette, explains how alcoholism “can make you a liar, can make you a thief”, and – apparently – also a highly popular actor with primetime sitcom success.

Hot Growing Pains mom Joanna Kerns grins at the thought of you being destroyed by an earthquake or tornado.

The notorious nippled Batman wants children to be aware that their fat, psychotic mothers may lash out at them at any moment.

Chronic squinter Helen Hunt, still unable to locate her glasses after several seasons of Mad About You, urges womyn to break up their marriages NOW, before they become just another statistic in the patriarchal ghetto – one of the zillions of womyn thrashed within inches of their lives every fifteen seconds.

Ad Council

 Ad Council logo: creative genius

The most annoying proliferator of public service announcements on the cultural landscape is no doubt the “non-profit” group the Ad Council, candidly described by historian Robert Griffith as “little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government.”

Unsurprisingly, Ad Council spots have tended to promote the most vile sorts of agendas, ranging from the vilification of the American father to the glorification of welfare dependency. Here are a few Ad Council classics, old and new:

F*** Whitey up bad

Pizza? You expect me to eat pizza? Try eating this knuckle sandwich, bitch!

Stop procreation now!

Teaching black people about frogs

Cute animals telling Mexicans what a faggot Whitey is

“This is our government, everybody. This is what they do. They just waste your money.” – German American Bund leader Adam Carolla

 

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