If you’re the right age, you’ll probably remember those G.I. Joe cartoon vignettes after the main part of the show, where some teenager starts to do something dumb, and one of the Joes walks by and tells him not to do that because they might get hurt or because the jaywalkers of today are Destro’s bunk-mates of tomorrow, or something. Saving us from Cobra Commander’s dark plans for world domination and from chasing the ball into the street, all in a day’s work. Yo, Joe!
Well, sort of. For some reason, I have vague memories of something changing during the Reagan administration, even though I was barely formed at the time. It seems to me that the first few of those things that I saw early on were all pretty lightweight stuff, like “don’t be a bully”, or “always wear a lifejacket”, and once you knew that, well, “knowing is half the battle.” By the end of that show’s run, though, it was a little more severe; “don’t pimp out your sister for liquor”, or “Don’t get into the van, no matter how much candy you’re offered.” “Don’t show the girls Little Serpentor”, that kind of thing.
I wondered once upon a time how much of that stuff the government, the DEA in particular, either bought or coerced from the show’s creators. I never really found a satisfactory answer to that, though I assume that the answer is “most or all of it”. The only reason that I bring it up is that just last night, watching on of the various CSI: Wherever shows, the topic of the dialog turned to The Short, Unhappy Life Of The Drug Dealer, in which they went over his Lack Of Friends, his Poor Living Conditions, his Inevitable Fate and so forth.
And it was so, so contrived. And so awkward. It had all the smooth expository flow a shard of glass hidden in a milkshake. It had nothing to do with anything, not the story, not the characters, nothing except “Dealer lifestyle bad, mmmkay?”
There is no possible way that this could have been written by somebody who actually writes scripts, no matter how awful the CSI stuff is; this was tinkertoy dialogue, bought in a kit and hastily assembled into something that might appear from a distance to be an actual conversation. Government-sanctioned drama; God, it was awful. I mean, sure, Think Of The Children, but don’t think so little of that you’d foist this kind transparent bullshit off on them, would you please? Just an ounce of respect, a dash of dignity? Maybe parents should be, you know, the actual parents around here, and the media shouldn’t be bed with the government? I’m just sayin’, here.
But anyway, now I know, which at some point somewhere will presumably be half the battle.