Watch Pee-wee Herman's Anti-Crack PSA

YouTube / Propaganda Time
YouTube / Propaganda Time / YouTube / Propaganda Time

In the 1980s, Public Service Announcements (PSAs) were elevated to a form of televised art. The famous This Is Your Brain on Drugs spot was a classic, but a different anti-drug PSA stuck out to me much more. It was Pee-wee Herman, on a moodily-lit soundstage, telling us not to smoke crack.

It's not that I was excited to take crack, but honestly, having a childhood hero stay in character and deliver this message presented such a powerful mixture of bizarreness and honesty that I still love it today. Look:

I don't remember seeing Olivia Newton-John's near-identical PSA, but it happened:

Wait, and Ally Sheedy did a similar PSA:

And Bette Midler did too! Look:

Clint Eastwood made a shorter version:

So where did this all come from? Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program. Take a look: