If you were like the majority of Americans on Sunday, you were probably parked in front of the flat screen with a beer in your hand and a 7-layer dip on the coffee table watching the Super Bowl. Tom Brady might have put on a pretty good show and the Patriots really saved face, breaking their losing streak since they lost to the Giants after a perfect season, but that was all background noise to those who watch for the commercials. And this year they really had one to talk about. This past year the media has irresponsibly made heroin a nationwide topic, dramatically reporting an epidemic that others say is in contrast to actual statistics which show a plateau in heroin use. But the media is not to be silenced. This year they used one of the nation’s biggest media extravaganzas to perpetuate paranoia in the heroin epidemic by running a very controversial and undisputably disturbing commercial designed to instil fear and panic in viewers and deliver a bleak message: heroin users, even your very own children, will die of an overdose if they use opiates.
If you didn’t see it in person, I’ll break it down for you, In juxtaposition to the commercials dark message, a chipper, catchy little tune plays over a dramatization of a mother who finds her pubescent son blue faced and without breath after a heroin overdose in his bedroom. Lyrics describe a scenario of a boy who starts popping his moms pain meds until he becomes addicted and starts “jonesing for more”. The lyrics go on to describe the boys impending doom, “You call a shady guy to say you’re looking to score. And that’s how, how you got addicted to heroin.” Next his dealer comes over, “says he’s got something new. Just $10 bucks for a snort or two.” But those two lines were sadly the son’s demise, because “soon you OD’s and now you’re died. That’s how, how you got addicted to heroin. That’s how, how you OD’d on heroin.” And no, that’s not a typo, it really is “and now you’re died.” But you really have to see it to believe it. Take a look for yourself….
So, now that you’ve witnessed first hand this gem of an ad, what was your reaction to this anti-heroin commercial? It certainly grabbed my attention, but I doubt in the way the producers had in mind. The only desired intention that I think they universally nailed was the shock value. I’m still working at keeping my jaw off the floor and randomly shaking my head in disbelief at odd moments. Granted, my perception of things is slightly uncommon, slightly skewed from the general public’s. But I sincerely doubt that on a nationwide scale this commercial had a positive reception or was hailed as an effective anti-drug campaign. But maybe I’m wrong. What are your thoughts? What was your gut reaction to this disturbing and controversial commercial. Did you find it effective? Do you think it was a successful campaign for the war on drug or a completely inappropriate embarrassment. I’d love to get a general census.
They say no publicity is bad publicity. I wonder how many kids see this commercial and store it in the back of their mind, a seed planted for when the opportunity arises and they remember that catchy little song and think “I wonder what all of the fuss is about. It can’t really be that bad. I think I’m gonna check it out for myself.” I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but the media really should take more responsibility for the seeds they plant and curiosity they stir in youth. When heroin use does reach an epidemic, their hands will be far from clean. Rather than cause hysteria among parents and curiosity among youth, wouldn’t they be better off covering proven, effective harm reduction campaigns and only covering drug stories that are fact based and non-sensational? Just my two cents. But who’s going to listen to a junky anyway?