Following up: Jack Chick and PSAs

So, tomorrow my winter break begins. I’ll be in Mound (aka suburban hell) for a week, then back here to work as an office assistant for the Cinema & Media Studies department. Exciting! And just before I leave, I want to write a short post following up on some topics I’ve delved into recently, namely Jack Chick’s The Gay Blade and public service announcements.

So, speaking of Chick, I glanced around WordPress and learned that there are, in fact, several whole blogs devoted to analyzing/attacking his work. These include “Our Lady’s Blog: Why is Mary Crying?,” which mainly goes after Chick’s anti-Catholicism, as well as “Investigating Jack T. Chick,” which I consider a worthy cause. Chick’s reclusiveness, coupled with his wackiness, really makes him prime material for wondering, “Who is he really, anyway?”

Like me, “Investigating Jack T. Chick” saw fit to tear apart The Gay Blade; however, they did it more from a Christian, scriptural point of view, observing how Chick’s claims don’t even stick to actual Christian beliefs – and, for all his obsession with biblical fidelity, Chick doesn’t even really quote the Bible correctly (inserting, unsurprisingly, extra homophobia). I don’t agree with the entire article, but multiple points of view on evangelical comic book craziness are always better; also, they link to this great little humorous take on The Gay Blade. My favorite part: “In the drawing here, we can be sure that these men are not gay! NOBODY IS WEARING BIG TINTED GLASSES!”

So, if anyone out there is, in fact, interested in my perspectives on Jack Chick’s viewpoints and artistry, I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. And so, about PSAs: Ashley and I recently watched the Nostalgia Critic’s “Top 11 Drug PSAs,” and it got us thinking about all the exaggerations and insinuations that branches of the U.S. government tried to shove down our throats alongside mid-afternoon cartoons back in the 1990s. For a sample, we turned to the Nostalgia Critic’s source, and looked at Retrojunk.com’s list of ’90s PSAs.

This is by no means a comprehensive catalogue, but it’s a start, and I’d love to explore the content and storytelling of these ads in the future. Some are just surreal and disorienting; others are patronizing and laughable; and yet others are starkly nightmarish. I’d also like to learn more about how they came to be written and filmed – who determined which ideologies they’d be expressing? PSAs are especially interesting to me because they’re like a covert intrusion into children’s culture: amidst all the hyperkinetic cartoons and commercials for toys or sugary cereal, we’ve got these little government-sanctioned voices going, “Don’t do drugs!” or “Exercise!” in all kinds of creative, often unexpected ways.

I’ll probably post more on PSAs another time (I just have the oddest obsessions, don’t I?), but for now, here’s one of my favorites among those we uncovered. It’s not from the ’90s – rather, it was released in 1969 – but it’s so catchy and upbeat. It sounds like the kind of song they’d play in ’70s movies when they wanted to evoke the ’30s. It speaks to a younger, more innocent time in our nation’s history. A time when we all had VD.

That’s right! Kids practicing violin! Librarians, pregnant women, butchers! Ballerinas, old businessmen, babies, joggers! They all have VD! The PSA is one of the few art forms that could turn venereal disease into a loving ballad. The message is definitely a good one, and one which carries over to the present (even if the term “VD,” sadly, does not): e.g., not just gay men and junkies get AIDS. But the way it’s being communicated – it’s so whimsical, so fancy free, just makes you want to dance while carrying a parasol!

So that’s my two bits for the day, digging up some more information about my strange, strange hobbies. Finally, a little note: tonight, Ashley embroiled herself in what we might as well call Squirtgate. Basically, a sex blogger called the Kinky Jew posted this “sarcastic humorous post” about why female ejaculation is “EW.” It’s kind of bullshit. And commenters were not happy, and Ashley was one of them. Definitely go read it for yourself. And now I bid adieu to blogging from Northfield for the next week.

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Filed under art, Media, Meta, Politics, Sexuality

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