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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Banana: A New Symbol of Anarchy



As many of you have probably heard, there was an incident at a Virginia high school recently that involved a 14 year old boy named Bryan Thompson.  During the halftime of a recent football game, Thompson jumped onto the field and began sprinting towards the end zone...while wearing a banana suit.  For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a news report:


Somehow, the fallout from a prank played by an autistic 14 year old/aspiring rapper has been tremendous.  The boy was suspended from school 10 days and recommended for expulsion for the rest of the school year.  Students at the school responded by wearing t-shirts that said "Free Banana Man" to class; they were also suspended or had their shirts confiscated.

At this point, things hadn't gotten quite crazy enough, so the ACLU stepped in on behalf of the students and their right to free speech.  A few days later, Thompson's suspension was lifted and the principal resigned.  By the time NBC reporter Pat Collins interviewed "Banana Man" while wearing a grape costume himself, the insanity of this whole situation had reached a whole other level.





While the educator in me would say that a student should not be allowed to run onto the field at halftime, the mentally unbalanced side of me inexplicably finds someone sprinting across a football field in a banana costume absolutely hilarious.  While the kid needed to be disciplined, it was a pretty harmless prank; 10 days of suspension and a recommendation for expulsion seem like quite a bit of overkill.

But as many of you may NOT know, The Banana has recently been involved in some other high profile incidents of unrest, lawlessness, and spiraling descents into madness.



The Banana initiates psychological warfare on the masses

Two years ago, a video was uploaded to YouTube entitled 'Banana Song (I'm A Banana).'  I have embedded it below, but you should only watch the entire thing if you you don't mind having your soul ripped from your eyes and thrown against the wall.


I can't prove that this video's viral popularity caused some sort of primal banana madness to emerge nearly two years later...but I can offer proof.



The Banana attacks it's greatest killer.

It all began this past summer when a man in a gorilla costume (advertising for a cellphone store) was  ruthlessly attacked by a man wearing a banana costume.  Below is the harrowing 911 call along with an even more epic description of the attack by the cell phone store manager.



This next clip is from a newscast that obtained a low quality cell phone recording of the "run by fruiting."  It also has a transcript of the 911 call (which somehow makes it even funnier) and a news anchor deliver what is quite possibly the worst pun ever broadcasted on network television.





The Banana causes conflict with law enforcement.


                                                                       sodahead.com


About a month later, Beyonce Knowles sister, Solange (yes, that's really her name) was denied entrance into a Miami club because of what she was trying to bring into the establishment; a 5 foot tall inflatable banana.  When Knowles and her hilariously over sized novelty item were rejected at the door, she became irate.

At this point, things actually managed to get weirder.  According to Knowles, a police officer pulled her aside to discuss the matter...and then threatened to pop her inflatable banana with a switchblade.  Knowles and her banana were not taken into custody.



The Banana attacks a hockey player and causes racial tension


                                                           photobucket


A month later, a banana was thrown at a hockey player during a preseason game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Redwings.  The target of the banana toss was Wayne Simmonds, one of the few black players in the NHL.  This lead many to believe that the incident was racially motivated.  The fan that threw the offending fruit was eventually identified and arrested.



The Banana tries to fight an entire football team


On Saturday, September 24, two small colleges faced off in what turned out to be an incredibly exciting game with an even more amazing finish.

Augsburg College traveled to St. John's University on their homecoming.  They rallied from behind by improbably completing an 80 yard drive in 18 seconds to win the game.  While watching the amazing video embedded below, pay attention to the left part of the screen at 1:07.  As the Auggies celebrate in front of the home fans, a very angry banana appears on the field to give the visitors a piece of his mind.




Could there be more social unrest caused by 'The Banana'?


Only time will tell.  I can guarantee you one thing, though:  If I see you walking towards me and you are wearing a banana costume and/or brandishing a potential banana projectile, I will be prepared to stand my ground.


                                                               ctnrzkh
And you will be turned into this.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazing Moments in Advertising: Torturing the Marching Band




Marching bands having a long and storied history being part of commercials.  In fact, I myself participated in a commercial with my high school band.  (Please leave all autograph requests in the comments section).

However, like most commercials, mine was was pretty bland; we marched around, pretended to play our instruments (our actual playing was dubbed in later), and spent most of the day realizing just how soul crushing a day on a commercial shoot could be.

The best marching band commercials, however, are the ones that show our ranks being mercilessly attacked and/or destroyed.  I'm not sure why it works this way, but it just does.  Maybe this makes me a traitor to my own kind (especially since I am currently a band director), but I can't help it; these clips pry their way into some sort of self deprecating party of my brain and causes uncontrollable laughter.

My first example is from a commercial for the game 'NFL Blitz.'  It was quickly pulled due to complaints from the National Music Educators Association and a very image conscience NFL, but luckily it was captured in all it's glory by someone with an appreciation for greatness.

In the following clip, we see former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart taking part in some throwing accuracy drills while a marching band plays in the background.  Little do we realize, the marching band is a set of moving, wool clad targets.



I gotta admit, I initially had mixed feelings about this one; the first target he hits is a trombone player, which is my instrument.  However, when Stewart manages to nail the crap out of a flute player running up the stairs while she is doing a trill, I realized that I had just witnessed a thing of beauty.  Go Steelers!

The next one is another classic that surprisingly few people seem to remember.  In the late 1990's, internet computer/software dealer Outpost.com began making a name for itself with some shockingly (and borderline tasteless) commercials...all of which were awesome.

My personal favorite, however, was one in which Outpost.com enlists the help of an unsuspecting marching band to spell out their name while playing a lively tune.  Then this happens:


Something about the way the host calmly sits in his chair and chuckles while saying "That's good stuff" as the kids are ruthlessly mauled by a pack of wolves still makes me giggle uncontrollably.  Maybe I need some sort of help...but instead, let's take a look at another clip.

In this commercial for Carpisun, something happens...I'm just not entirely sure what.  From my interpretation of things, a mischievous band member named Simon attempts to drop a Caprisun pouch into the euphonium of one of his fellow band members.  This causes some sort of cosmic and karmic counter reaction that effectively transforms his entire upper torso into a  sousaphone.  The metamorphosed young man responds to this giving an pained expression, and then loudly farting at the pitch of concert B flat.  Don't believe me?  Take a look:


Same company, same set up, different (and VERY creepy) result.  This time Simon is turned into an earth worm/accordion hybrid that the camera lingers on for about 5 seconds too long:



In this next clip, I'm not sure most would define it as abuse as much as it may be stupidity on the band members' part.  The ESPN College Game Day crew is hanging out at University of Southern California when a majorette walks up and asks if they would like to see her routine.  The three creepy old guys then leer at her for a few seconds while she twirls her flaming baton.

Now in case you didn't know, majorettes twirling batons that are on fire is pretty standard fare.  What happens next, however, is both inexcusable and yet somehow, still awesome.



Okay, first of all, let's address the fact that band instruments are expensive.  Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit no where near being worth lighting your instrument on fire for; Chris Fowler is a big maybe at best.

Secondly, how much lighter fluid do you need to keep a brass instrument lit up like that?  The clarinet that we first saw burning (which totally awesome, by the way) would burn easily.  But brass?

Finally, what about the groundskeeper?  It's bad enough that these kids are walking around with flaming instruments, but one of them is so careless that he lights the poor guy on fire.  Not only that, but the grounds keeper just keeps doing his job as if being lit on fire is some kind of regular and mundane occurrence.


"Enjoy your commercial while I continue my soul crushing march towards a paycheck..."



In our final clip, the band gets to be the one doing the torturing...sort of.  Some guy buys a new Hyundai, which apparently was enough to get a random marching band to stalk him during his every waking moment and remind him that his new vehicle was well reviewed by J.D. Power and Associates.  This (along with the creepy grin on the drum major's face) would probably be enough to make someone not ever want to buy a Hyundai.

By the way, for some reason, the clip below (the only one I could find) plays twice for no apparent reason.  This fittingly makes it seem even more like a Kafka novel nightmare for anyone that has stopped doing marching band and would like to forget about it.


As with all the other videos, however, harm still befalls the band members.  As the Hyundai owner speeds away from their first encounter, the band chases him down the street.  In the ensuing chase, a tuba player completely bites it on the pavement.




At the very end of the video, the Hyundai driver makes the smart decision to get onto the interstate to make his escape...except that the band members sprint up the on ramp, determined to rob him of his sanity, even if it's at the expense of their own lives.

I guess us band kids really are just that dedicated.


                                                                                JonathanL25
One band, One sound!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Amazing Moments in Advertising: McDonalds wants you to REALLY like their double cheeseburgers



Corporations are always looking for ways to relate to their customers through advertisement.  This makes the customer feel as though the brand "understands" them and can subsequently lead to higher sales.  Unfortunately, corporate executives can often times be completely out of touch with the average consumer that buys their product.  Fortunately for us common consumers, this can bring about some inadvertent and hilarious results.

McDonald's is one of the better companies at getting their product recognized through advertisements.  They can often times make food that is very similar or lower quality than other fast food places seem like the best and most economical way to grab a quick bite to eat.  Sometimes, they can even turn disgusting food (like the McRib) into an exciting contest.



Not pictured:  Real meat


Now don't get me wrong--I actually love McDonald's food for the most part.  Their fries are still the best in the business.  Their vanilla ice cream is a wonderful treat (when the ice cream machine is not down) and their sandwiches, while not at Arby's or Hardee's levels, are still pretty decent. 

I am also a big fan of their chicken nuggets, so I was a little bit disturbed when McDonald's came out a short lived ad campaign (that I cannot find anywhere) stating that their nuggets were now made of 100% real chicken meant...which made lose some sleep and that and wonder about a couple of things:

1.)  What the heck were you serving to me before?
2.)  Why would use information like this try and get people into your stores?


                                                                                   filmmusicart
Our next ad campaign?
We don't watch you sleep at night like we used to!


Fortunately, perhaps my favorite ill worded McDonalds ad was screen captured for all eternity by blogger Andrew Teman.  In 2005, Mr. Teman, myself, and many others went to espn.com and were hit with a flash based ad of a young man expressing his desire to have his way with a McDonalds double cheeseburger.  Here are the three slides:




For those of you that are not hip to the lingo used above, urbandictionary.com defines the phrase "I'd hit it" as follows:

I'd Hit it
Vernacular, commonly used by males, meaning, "I would like to have sexual relations with that female."
Example:  "Wow, she's hot! I'd hit it!"

As most of you are aware, this is not an uncommon phrase today, nor was it in 2005.  Despite it's origins as an "urban" slang term, it is well known and used by people across all ages and demographics.  How this got through a board room of executives, commercial editors, and then made into a mass produced ad that basically promoted hot man on sandwich love is beyond absurd.  

You have to think that there was at least one hip/culturally attuned 21 year old and/or a black person that would have said "Wait, that doesn't mean what you think it does."

Either McDonald's needs to get some better people in their ad department, or someone was repressing near uncontrollable levels of laughter as this advertisement was approved and distributed.

                                                                          soxfirst.com
"HA!  You white people are adorably uncool."


What's even more amazing is that unlike the "now using real chicken" ad campaign, this one ran for a few years; until late 2007.  Fortunately, no one took the ad's suggestion to heart (that we know of).  Still, it is amazing that an advertisement like this was able to run for such an extended period of time in this day and age.

I guess just like the joke about Disney that is linked below, corporations really are more disconnected with their audience (especially younger people) than we could have imagined.  As a blogger, however, I can't complain; while it may embarrass them, it gives me some great material to write about.

And speaking of my blog, I hope that all of you will "hit it" again for my next post in a few days.







Saturday, September 17, 2011

Justified Sports Hatred: Why I loathe 'THE' Ohio State University

        



In sports, hatred always seems more justified and acceptable than in other facets of our lives. In our day to day routines, it is considered an honorable trait to always look for the good in others and resist the urge to be malicious. Even in politics, there is a danger of having people tune you out and discount your opinion if you viciously attack those that have an opinion that differs from yours.

In sports, however, hatred is seen as a quality that you must have to be genuine. If you are a die hard fan of one school, then you must hate at least another one (sometimes more) with an equal or even greater passion.  For example, since I am a HUGE University of Kentucky fan, I am supposed to violently hate the University of Louisville Cardinals...and I do.

                                                                   A. Davidson
Stop the car, then back up to make sure you got it.


Some of it is justified. When I was a senior assistant with the UK Marching Band, a Louisville fan threw a hot dog at me with deadly accuracy. It was a shame that their quarterback didn't throw like that fan did, since we upset the then #17 ranked Cardinals 22-17.

After winning the game, our director George Boulden and I went down to get our equipment...where we were threatened by the Louisville police to leave or get arrested.

But I digress. I had no problem with Louisville before I went to school at Kentucky, and to be honest, I really don't hate them in the sense that it actually makes me mad. If I see a person in a Louisville shirt, I'll usually make some jab about how we beat them in basketball every year, they'll shoot back that they stole our coach, we'll laugh a little, and that's it.

                                                              kentuckysportsradio.com
Louisville fans make me laugh even when they aren't trying to be funny.


Ohio State, on the other hand, is a completely different story. When I see someone wearing an Ohio State jersey, sporting an Ohio State flag at their home, or driving incredibly slow in the left lane while sporting an Ohio State bumper sticker, I become enraged. Not just sports rage...real rage.

2007:  The seeds of hate are sown

My hate for Ohio State began with the 2007 National Championship game between SEC representative Florida and the Buckeyes. I really didn't have anything against OSU at this point. The only real negative I had heard was the Maurice Clarett scandal from a few years ago. Apparently, the star running back was receiving cash and "loaner cars" (those will become a theme in this article, by the way) while also being investigated for academic fraud. In fact, according to Clarett, he and other Ohio State players could get a loaner car any time they wanted.

Of course, this was also the same guy that had quite a bit of trouble with the law during and after his time at Ohio State. He was dismissed by most (including me) as just a rogue trouble maker that was causing problems for an otherwise very respectable program.

                                       mychinaconnection
Pictured:  Not a good apple



Before the championship game began, I remember hearing the announcers talk about how incredible OSU's defense was and wondering if the Gators would even be able to score a touchdown against them.

Well, they did. In fact, Florida scored quite a few touchdowns on the way to routing the heavily favored Buckeyes and making their Heisman Trophy Quarterback, Troy Smith, look like a Division II back up.

It was at this point that I began to notice a few things. First of all, why the heck was Ohio State so heavily favored in this game when their bowl record against SEC teams at that point was 0-8? In fact, isn't the Big Ten in general pretty terrible in all their bowl games? Why does everyone think that OSU and the Big Ten are so great?

                                                                  web.mit.edu
All their teams are surrounded by corn fields, that's why!


Also, wasn't Troy Smith, the supposed "best player in college football," the same guy that took $500 from a booster the year before? Ah, whatever. Kids can make mistakes...again.

And how could you not trust Ohio State's coach, Jim Tressel? The man was a devout Christian, ran a clean program, and he actually wore a sweater vest for every game. Maybe Ohio State was overrated, but at least they were also honorable.


                                         rustyzipper.com
I now trust this armless manequin completely



By the start of the next season, I was surprised to see Ohio State begin the year ranked 11th in the country. And despite their incredibly weak schedule and a loss to an unranked team, they made the National Championship game again.

How did a team that didn't play anyone all year (and lost to an unranked opponent) get back to the title game?

2008:  The hate begins to take root and grow.


On January 7, I watched Ohio State lose ONCE AGAIN to an SEC team in the National Championship game; this time it was to the LSU Tigers. The Buckeyes and their weak conference were also subsequently raked over the coals for once again exposing the Big Ten as being severely overrated.

When I tried to bring up this viewpoint to a die hard Ohio State buddy of mine, I began to see the delusion of the average OSU fan; he told me to stop speaking about it immediately or he would no longer be my friend.


                                     decibelmagazine.com
There was also discussion of him 
taking his toys and returning home.


OSU could perhaps get a ranking between #20-#25 just due to their tradition and recruiting, but there was no way they would even get close to being ranked #10 in the preseason.

I was right: Ohio State began the next year ranked #2.


                                                                      cchs.usd224.com
I had once again underestimated the power of corn.


The next year, OSU again plowed through their incredibly weak (though slightly more respectable than 2008) schedule, lost their only two games to other fellow top #10 ranked teams, finished the regular season ranked as the #10 team in the country, and still made a BCS bowl (thankfully, not the championship this time). As usual, they lost.

2009:  The hate begins to wilt.


Once again, Ohio State played a pathetically weak schedule to propel themselves into BCS bowl game.  However, out of the 3 top 25 teams that they faced, they won against 2 of them. They also convincingly won their bowl game against a very good Oregon team.

Maybe my hate was becoming misplaced. Maybe Ohio State was finally living up to their billing as a perennially top ranked team. My hate for THE Ohio State University began to soften...

...only to be completely replenished and augmented the following year.

2010:  The hate is revived and becomes a fully grown tree


Once again, Ohio State rode their weak schedule sprinkled with a few quality wins to a BCS bowl. By now, this had become a common theme that inspired more eye rolls than fits of anger. But then, Ohio State president Gordon Gee stepped up to the plate to renew the vitriol.

                                            alreadytv.com
His ridiculous bow ties were 
not the reason, but it definitely did not help


Gee dismissed Texas Christian University and Boise State as teams that deserved a shot at the national championship. In an interview with the associated press, Gee famously said:

"I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.
So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."

There are a couple of reasons that this quote angered me and many others. First of all, TCU's 2010 schedule and Boise State's 2010 schedule were both just as difficult or arguably MORE difficult than Ohio State's schedule every year. To drive this point home even more, TCU beat a #5 ranked Big Ten team in their bowl game. Boise State also demolished the #19 ranked team in theirs.

To make things even worse, Ohio State got caught in the beginning stages of a huge scandal. Apparently, 5 players on Ohio State's roster, including star quarterback Terelle Pryor, were caught exchanging game items and memorabilia for tattoos.

What really stunk about this scandal was not that a few kids made mistakes, but the ridiculous claims that Ohio State and the NCAA made to excuse the players behavior. Apparently, they were not adequately educated that what they did (receiving benefits based on their status as athletes) was wrong and they were just doing it "for their families."


                                                                  ugliesttattoos.net
He got this ink done for Mother's Day next year



Even better, Terelle Pryor pretty much admitted he knew that what he was doing was against the rules. Here is one of his quotable gems:

"What did I learn? It's two years ago, you know, so I already knew what I should have done two years ago." So to tell the truth, I didn't learn much because I already knew what I should have did two years ago. Now I wouldn't make the same decision, so I couldn't tell you I learned something because I already knew what I did wrong."



Tressel and the university claimed that they had no prior knowledge that the players were doing anything that was against NCAA rules. They were punished by being suspended for 5 games...beginning NEXT year. The indicted group would still be allowed to play in their BCS bowl game against Arkansas because the game represented a unique opportunity for them.


                                                                          unicorn-pictures.com
The most unique opportunity?  
We will each ride out of the tunnel on one of these!



Was the NCAA serious? What about the Perry Jones case at Baylor? He was suspended for some loans his mother took (and payed back) so that she could afford the rent. This was done while Perry was in high school and WITHOUT his knowledge.

Regardless, Baylor's best player was suspended for the Big 12 Basketball Tournament. Apparently, that opportunity was not special enough to forgo punishment for something Perry had nothing to do with from his high school days.

It now seemed that THE Ohio State University had gone past just getting overly favorable treatment in the AP polls; they were now getting it from the NCAA itself. Little did I know how bad it was going to get.

2011:  The hate gets angry and becomes the tree from 'Poltergeist.'


                                                                                 chud.com
I will photosynthesize YOUR SOUL!


It turned out that the scandal was much worse than just a few rogue players pretending that they didn't know the rules and getting tattoos "for their families." Apparently, Tressel knew about the players wrong doings back in August, but did not tell anyone because the tattoo shop was involved in a federal drug investigation; he wanted to make sure not to leak any "confidential' information."

This may have made a little sense, except that he did forward the information to Ted Sarniak, a prominent business man from Pryor's home town and someone referred to has Pryor's "mentor.


"You're about to get mentored in the art of making it rain, son!"


Jim Tressel was suspended 2 games (which he wisely asked to be extended to 5) and fined $250,000.  When Gordon Gee was asked he would fire Tressel for lying to the NCAA and getting the school into hot water? Gee famously responded to this question by saying that the coach's job was completely safe and he hoped that Tressel didn't fire him.

As the investigation widened, it turned out that Ohio State players and their families were getting some pretty sweet deals on cars from a dealership...that was subsequently getting lots of guest tickets to Ohio State games.

Terrelle Pryor had also been pulled over 3 different times driving 3 different vehicles...from the same dealership. The dealer claimed that letting people take multi day, out of state test drives was "no different than any of the other 10,000-plus deals that I've done for all my other customers."



                                                                          autotrader.com
Pictured:  The most awesome and least profitable car dealership ever.


Terelle Pryor was then stupid enough to shop up to a team meeting in a customized Nissan 350z with temporary tags (from the same dealer, of course) and registered in his mother's name. Turns out his mom was able to score this sweet ride for only $18,404.50 (after market wheels included) AND further reduced the price to $11,435 after what must have been the mother of all trade ins.

Somehow, the NCAA found no wrong doing in this case.


                                                                       toledoblade.com
They also found no scratches on this trade in junker


As the NCAA began to ramp up their investigation, people began to point out that OSU could be considered a repeat offender due to the fact that their basketball team was still on probation from less than 5 years before these new allegation surfaced.

Instead, the NCAA assured THE Ohio State University that they would not be hit with the harshest penalties of "Lack of Institutional Control" and "Failure to Monitor." This was due to Ohio State's excellent rules education...you know, the same rules education that did not adequately service the "Tattoo 5" and gave them an excuse to play in the bowl game.


                                                                             theagencyboardshop
The horrifying results of trying to decipher the NCAA's logic.


A few weeks later, Jim Tressel finally resigned as THE Ohio State University's coach. Believe it or not, here is where my hate truly took on a new dimension. Ohio State fans still supported the man that brought disgrace to their University. There was even a section of a Columbus 4th of July parade dedicated to him while there was another one ripping Terrelle Pryor.

All of this is in spite of the fact that there may have been even worse violations occurring under Tressel's watch that may one day come home to roost. Of course, it may really be more of a problem with Ohio State as a whole; new violations occurred this season when two OSU players were caught taking money from a booster recently.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will fully admit that I think the rules about players not being able to sell their own game items is ridiculous. These players make millions for a system that pays proportionally very little back to them if they don't get into the NFL.

Ohio State, however, seems to be able to get off much lighter than other schools for not only committing violations, but lying about their knowledge of the infractions...or just pretending that they didn't happen.

While schools like USC get hammered for the actions involving 2 players and miles away from campus, it seems like Ohio State can pretend to not know what goes on right under their noses and get a slap on the wrist...and maybe only a top 15 preseason ranking next season.



And you know that they'll be prepared to defend the title against the Akron Zips!



Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 


Monday, September 12, 2011

Terrifying Moments in Children's Television: Bravestarr

(photo @ wikipedia.org)



Bravestarr was a space western cartoon that aired in the late 1980's.  For those of you that are having trouble placing your finger on what a 'space western' is, it's basically a show with all the themes of a western (wild frontier, conquering wilderness, gun fights, cowboys, ridiculous/awesome hats, etc.), but in the back drop of outer space.  This allows for the presence of many different 'western' themed landscapes, different alien races...and characters like Marshall Bravestarr and his trusty horse, Thirty Thirty.


                                                                                wikipedia
Bravestarr is the one on the left


Marshall Bravestarr was a Native America space marshal on a planet known as 'New Texas.'  Bravestarr had the ability to call upon different spirit animals at any given point to aid him in his task of bringing order to the planet.  These powers were:

Ears of the Wolf--super hearing (so he can tell who has been talking about him behind his back)
Eyes of the Hawk--enhanced sight plus aerial view of his surroundings (so he could find those lousy backstabbers).
Speed of the Puma--super speed (so he can run down anyone that had betrayed him)
Strength of the Bear--super strength (so he can beat the crap out of all his haters)



                                                    nookdeejung
He also tried to use 'Disposition of the Wallaby,' 
but that made him far too vulnerable and cuddly



While these powers are totally awesome and would most likely cause anyone else to develop a severe God complex, Bravestarr was very humble and careful with them.  His first instinct in most situations was to find a non violent solution.

Fortunately for the legions of 8-13 year old boys that were watching the show, there was Thirty Thirty.  He was a horse (a "techno horse" according to the show) that could go from running on all 4s to walking on two legs...and he could talk.  As if that wasn't cool enough, he also carried a high powered rifle that he referred to as "Sara Jane."  Thirty Thirty constantly pressed Bravestarr to take more decisive (i.e. violent) action when it came to dealing with criminals.


                                                              animatedviews.com
  Pictured:  Pure Awesomeness




Like most cartoons from the 80's, each episode of Bravestarr had some type of moral lesson that the main characters tried to impart to the viewer at the end of each episode (once they were done beating the crap out of their enemies).  Also like a lot of 80's cartoons, the show decided to do an anti drug episode.  As you would expect a show with a gun toting, talking horse to do, Bravestarr decided to kick things up a few notches pass traumatizing.

The episode entitled 'The Price' begins with Bravestarr and Thirty dealing with a serious problem:  Miners on their planet are having complete mental breakdowns due to ingesting a new drug called 'spin.'  The symptoms that the addicts are showing include paranoia, violent shaking, and thinking that spiders are crawling all over their bodies.


...and David Lynch movies start making sense



While the marshal and his trusty steed are dealing with the strung out miners, Brad (the annoying kid character all these shows have) and his best friend Jay are putting the finishing touches on a fort that they have been building.  As they celebrate their newly constructed clubhouse, a dingo that speaks with an Australian accent (and is dressed like a cast member of Miami Vice) walks up an introduces himself.  It turns out that he is a 'spin' dealer himself and is willing to give each of the boys a free sample.

Brad makes the wise decision to walk away, but Jay decides to give the drug a chance in the name of not being "chicken."  He also makes Brad promise not to tell anyone that he is getting loaded in their clubhouse with the drugs he got from an Australian dingo.



And for the record, mate, I never ate anyone's baby.


Brad and Jay meet up later and argue about their stances on drug use.  Jay thinks that the drug was incredible and wants to do it again.  Brad warns him that he has heard about multiple miners going to the hospital or dying from using it.  Jay explains that it won't happen to him since he can "handle it."   

When Jay next finds his dingo drug dealer, he discovers that the next hit will not be free; it will actually cost quite a bit.  He goes home and steals money out of his mother's purse, then finds the dealer again and purchases another hit of spin.

Later on, Brad goes to their clubhouse and finds Jay inside, tripping out of his mind.


Pixels...I can actually see the pixels everywhere...


Brad threatens to tell a doctor about Jay's condition, which instantly kills his buzz and causes him to go into a blind rage, physically assaulting Brad and making him once again promise to not tell anyone about his drug use.  As a disgusted Brad exits the clubhouse, Jay asks if he can borrow some money, which Brad wisely declines.  Jay then goes back into town and begins begging his friends for money to by another hit of spin.  Once he has enough, he finds the dingo, makes another purchase, and heads back to the clubhouse. 

As Brad wrestles with the moral struggle of keeping his promise or getting his friend help, an old Native American shaman appears to him out of nowhere.  Despite the fact that this would indicate to most people that they themselves were on drugs, Brad instead asks the shaman for advice.  He tells Brad that breaking one promise is a small price to pay to save a friend's life.  Brad takes this to heart and runs off to find the marshall.



And remember, tell no one that you saw me 
wearing sweat pants and Reebok cross trainers.


Back in town, Bravestarr and Thirty begin to realize that all of the spin addicts that they have been throwing in a cell to dry out having been coming from one specific area.  Bravestarr decides to (finally) use his 'Eyes of the Hawk' to scout the area and is finally able to find the lab where all the spin is being made.  They then leave to destroy it before Brad can reach them.

When Bravestarr and Thirty return, Brad finally tells them about Jay.  Just as Bravestarr is assuring him that they will get help for his friend, Jay's mother frantically runs up to them and says that her son has been missing since yesterday.  

The four of them rush to the clubhouse.  Then, this happens:



That's right...an 80's cartoon geared toward very young children stone cold killed a child character via a drug overdose.  Though you don't see the dead body full on, you do see his lifeless hand as Bravestarr takes his pulse and tells his talking horse to not bother calling the doctor for treatment.

As Jay's mother wails with grief over her dead son, the show fades out of that shot and into the another one of the the dingo drug dealer being thrown in jail.  He yells at Brad for turning him in, while all Brad can do is cry about the fact that he didn't try to save his friend before it was too late.  In case you needed any more confirmation that the kid died, the episode ends with Bravestarr giving an anti drug speech next to Jay's grave.


And don't you dare change that channel...'Duck Tales' is coming up next!


I have to admit, this episode seemed far more effective than any of the other anti drug episodes from my childhood.  Most shows would have some sort of path to redemption or an adult dealing with the addiction; this one showed that there were terrible and real consequences to drug abuse and that it could even happen to kids my age.

I remember watching this episode at a friend's house and being shocked that a cartoon would have the guts to kill a child to make strong statement about the dangers of abusing drugs.  Even though Bravestarr centered around a mystical space cowboy and his militarized talking horse, this was episode was as real as it gets.

                                                   hisstank.com
Unless there is ever a real Thirty Thirty,
which would be all types of awesome.