3. Throwback Thursday: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come out against marijuana
Old-school stoners will remember the infamous 1980s-era fried egg ‘This is your brain on drugs’ commercial from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, but a lesser-known ‘Just Say No’ ad employed that era’s cult-hit cartoon characters the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles teamed up in a 30-second anti-marijuana commercial wherein a youngster is approached at school by an older boy offering him joints, but musters up the will to, you know, say no. The Turtles are rooting him on from what appears to be a parallel cartoon universe, and close out the commercial by declaring “Drug dealers are dorks, don’t even talk to ‘em. Cowabunga!”
Individual turtle Michelangelo also made a cameo appearance in the 1990 anti-drug animated special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, which cast an all-inclusive net of Smurfs, Looney Tunes characters, Muppet Babies, and other animated favorites to warn kids to stay away from pot.
As the Daily Beast notes in its very astute and comprehensive Political History of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, the cartoon quartet was actually criticized as being too left-leaning in their politics. Conservative columnists accused the franchise of spreading “environmentalist dogma” among children, and a Turtles television episode discouraging kids from using unrecyclable styrofoam cups also drew national outrage on many newspaper Opinion pages.