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Friday, June 22, 2007

I Need Some Help

posted by on June 22 at 14:37 PM

When I was in high school (which was an anus-clenchingly short time ago, according to some of my older superiors), I lived in a wealthy suburb outside of Boston. Every year, we would go to the auditorium to watch something I always referred to as “The Pepsi Show,” because it was sponsored by Pepsi. I am trying to find these programs, because they were so weird, just a weird alternate universe of education, but I don’t know if they were shown to kids on the west coast at all, if they were even shown other places than my high school. I will describe the program to you, and maybe you can assist me with your collective consciousness.

The auditorium would be set up with three large projection screens, side by side, and the program came from three different projectors, although sometimes they were in sync. The point of the programs were to get us to not do drugs, commit suicide, cut ourselves, drive drunk, or any other out-of-proportion teen affliction. They were made with really mid-nineties iconography (I was class of ‘03, so this was already outdated), and they told us that we could be ourselves, even if that meant we were a total skateboarding rebel. They always had lots of mid-nineties songs like “Closing Time” by Semisonic and that song about doing heroin that goes, “I push the needle in/I pull it out…” But it wasn’t like other school programming because the stories, which were about teens that were purportedly going through the same things as us, were projected on these gigantic screens and the music was played really loud.

If you find a YouTube video of this, I will seriously mail you a box of cookies.

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Speaking of old school videos, has anyone seen a copy of "The Death Zone" floating around the net?

It's an old film about School Bus safety that they showed us in Elementary School in the early eighties... as was par for the course the film featured the (hilarious) demise of 3 school children, with an ominous voiceover that said things like "and she'll never go back to her job at McDonalds again".

Has anyone seen it, or know where it can be found on the net??

Posted by Griff | June 22, 2007 3:07 PM

Sounds like the Spice Girls concert I saw at the Tacoma Dome.

Posted by Paulus | June 22, 2007 3:13 PM

We got this at my junior high in Murray, Utah. The teachers would talk about it all year, because it basically turned into a day when they didn't have to do anything. I remember getting a workbook of ads for Clearasil and Old Spice along with learning such brilliantly bad rhymes as "Where were they going without ever knowing the way?"

Posted by Tom in SLC | June 22, 2007 3:20 PM

It was SO like a Spice Girls concert! It was soooooo weird.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 22, 2007 3:21 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | June 22, 2007 3:22 PM

I believe ours were called "Up with Life", but that was in the mid-80s. I can assure you there was nothing so hip as a Semisonic number in any of the versions I was forced to attend.

Posted by Bryan | June 22, 2007 3:24 PM

At my middle school in Iowa circa 92 or 93 we totally had an Up with Life three screen extravaganza that sounds very much like what Ari is describing. Thanks for the terrifying flashback.

Posted by Travis | June 22, 2007 3:30 PM

We had these things every year I was in high school back at the end of the 80's. I just remember thet on one of the screens, Michael J. Fox was walking at us, down a hall, and telling us not to succumb to peer pressure or something like that. It was very dramatic. I just remember some kid behind me saying that this just made him want to do more drugs. Although I went through high school drug and alcohol free, I agree with him.

Posted by Scojomojo | June 22, 2007 3:36 PM

Did anyone else watch "From the Rave to the Grave?" Simply awesome.

Posted by redhead intern | June 22, 2007 3:39 PM

which was not this... but an education film. but this is almost as good.

Posted by redhead intern | June 22, 2007 3:46 PM

We had something like this. i remember some kind of ambiguous don't drop out to do drugs and kill yourself message backed up with highlights from the movie Backdraft. We were confused.

Posted by longball | June 22, 2007 3:57 PM

We had something in middle school called Read All About It. Freakin weird.

Posted by Kate | June 22, 2007 4:06 PM

In 1989 we had that same three screen thing, and the song was U2's "Desire"

Posted by carlos | June 22, 2007 4:08 PM

The three-screen wonder that hit my midwestern middle school in 1989 was entitled "Eye to Eye."

Posted by giantladysquirrels | June 22, 2007 4:09 PM

Oh my lord, other people seem to sort of know what I'm talking about! Honestly, this has been met with blank stares form everyone I mention it too! Now we just need video.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 22, 2007 4:10 PM

Didn't see that one, but I did see a similar one. This was when the term "multi-media" was all new wave and stuff, and so they did the multi-screen/high volume/overlapping tracks thing. It was not anti-drug, I don't think; it was about peer pressure and cliques and talking behind people's backs. "Voices" was the title. I remember more that they hyped the term "multi-media" so much, and I was thinking, "It's 3 TVs at once, whoop de shit."

Posted by torrentprime | June 22, 2007 4:11 PM

Sounds like Channel One. This insidious marketing-to-captive-schoolchildren program was discontinued from many school districts after parental outcry. You can find vids, google Channel One Pepsi.

Posted by bing | June 22, 2007 4:16 PM

Channel One was separate from the multi-screen thing I think (different schools, etc.), but oh do I remember that. 10 minutes of commercials followed by "news" that would make Fox News blush, it was so thin and rah-rah.

Posted by torrentprime | June 22, 2007 4:26 PM

Nope, no Semisonic.

However, I was taking driver's ed in the mid 1970s, and distinctly remember a driver training film featuring Goofy (yes, the Disney character Goofy). Perhaps some of the oldsters in your office remember that one. :-)

This was long before commercially sponsored "educational" videos, a practice which I find abhorrent.

Posted by SDA in SEA | June 22, 2007 4:27 PM

We had the Pepsi Show in middle school in Reno, NV. I could not tell you what I learned from the Pepsi Show, other than perhaps that it's possible to make a living doing high-production value multimedia presentations to kids who won't remember a word of it.

Posted by Ken | June 22, 2007 4:42 PM

Oh, it was the late 80s, btw.

Posted by Ken | June 22, 2007 4:43 PM

We didn't have Up with People come to our school. We just had this one "motivational speaker." He spent two hours telling us about his youth spent doing heroin and stealing, and then finding Jesus. I read, my friend and his girlfriend played Magic, some people gossiped, and the rest of my school had to be prompted into applause by the principal. I was incredibly bored and just wanted to go back to my calculus class. Mind you, my best friend was a meth addict, so it wasn't like the speaker was saying anything I hadn't watched first hand.

Posted by Gitai | June 22, 2007 4:57 PM

Is this it? sponsored by Pepsi

There are you tube vids - search Camfel

Posted by anonymous | June 22, 2007 5:11 PM

If someone heard U2's "Desire," then they must have been at their nutty multi-extravaganza ZOO TV Tour they did in the early 90's. Man, what crap that was. "...she's like the needle, needle and spoon...," indeed.

Posted by DownWithLife | June 22, 2007 5:41 PM

Yeah we had those at my Minnesota high school as well, Ari, and I'm '03 too. I hadn't figured out how to skip assemblies yet, so I had to watch. What I got out of it: Drugs R Bad! Drink Pepsi! Don't Tell Anyone If You're Depressed, They Will Make You Drink Pepsi!

Posted by Katelyn | June 22, 2007 6:18 PM

The Internet doesn't seem to have any videos of these things, however.

Posted by Postureduck | June 22, 2007 6:59 PM

Central NJ in 91 got the Blue Angels set to "Dreams" by Van Halen.

Posted by Jason | June 22, 2007 7:07 PM

I was in HS in the 80's and they had the "Pepsi Assembly" back then as well. It was the raciest thing many in my suburban Catholic High school had seen. I remember many of the geeky kids referring to it in the "My Favorites" portion of the year book. Those were the kids who didn't realize that if you went to the side door by the gym on Tuesdays around 11pm you could buy the best coke I, unfortunately, have never had since.

Posted by Soo | June 22, 2007 9:37 PM

I was class of '95 in Pennsylvania, and I definitely recall having some sort of three big screens extravaganza. I think it traveled to my high school twice in those four years. I know it had some sort of typical BS teenage message but hell if I can remember what it was. Was it really sponsored by Pepsi? I don't remember that either. But I can see why #17 thought of Channel One. That WAS some insidious marketing crap. Hard to believe we all tuned in to those Clearasil ads for 10 minutes every morning. Ugh. "I pledge allegiance to the corporations..." They start us young.

Posted by Jamey | June 22, 2007 10:31 PM

does anyone remember 'donald in mathematicland'?

Posted by pretentious | June 22, 2007 11:32 PM

I'm just dying to know which wealthy suburb it was that Ari grew up in. Andover? Lexington? Brookline? Hingham? Please share...

Posted by jessiesk | June 23, 2007 12:14 AM

We got a longer-than-usual version with a "Salvation Message" tacked on the end at North Seattle Alliance Church in the mid-eighties.

It was referred to as a "multimedia presentation."

Posted by JenK | June 23, 2007 1:47 PM

Definitely attended one of those, once in middle school, which would've been circa 1195. We were herded into a professional sports arena, and then there were lasers and loud music and people shouting messages like "Don't drop out" and "don't do drugs" and (perhaps unique to mine) "eat healthy foods." They made us do The Wave. I remember the whole thing reminding me, bizarrely, of the movie Space Jam.

Posted by Christin | June 24, 2007 8:11 AM

"Code Blue", Ari!!

Posted by kt | June 24, 2007 1:29 PM

Man. What we had (mid-'90s Central Valley of California) was SO much better. One, we had a sex-ed video where a mom made ovary-and-uterus-shaped pancakes. Yum! Two, we had men who were burly and broke chunks of cement with their heads, which was supposed to illustrate why we should not do drugs, although probably not in the way they intended.

Posted by tae bee | June 24, 2007 10:03 PM

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Posted by oijes esbpqth | June 25, 2007 4:54 PM

what a load of rubbish!

Posted by James Morrison | July 3, 2007 8:53 AM

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