Anti-Drug PSA Where Mario Tells You You're Going to Hell!
September 27, 2017
Originally posted on Retro Game Dad in June 2016
If you lived through the 1980s or 1990s in the United States, there's almost no chance you made it through that time period without hearing about the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign. It was a huge PR move from the federal government at the time and it eventually became a phrase you couldn't escape. When you went to school there would be "Just Say No" flyers everywhere, when you went home you'd see public service announcements and TV specials involving your favorite cartoon characters repeating it ad nauseam. Your parents were saying it, your teachers were saying it, the President and First Lady of the United States were saying it. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Muppet Babies were saying it, the Flintstone Kids with popstar Michael Jackstone were saying it.
Wherever you went, you'd find someone there to tell you not to smoke crack or freebase.
There's a lot to be said about the Just Say No campaign, but I basically just wanted to use this as a preface to share a very short PSA from a person who played a video game character on TV.
Captain Lou Albano, who became famous for being a professional wrestler turned ringside manager throughout the 1970s and 1980s, did the voice work and acted as Mario in the 1980s cartoon "Super Mario Bros. Super Show." The show was primarily an animated one, but throughout the course of the episode you'd get live action segments featuring Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi. The show was what you'd expect from most late 80s cartoons more or less, except with a lot more Italian stereotypes.
At some point during the show's run, Albano was asked to do a PSA following along with the theme of the "Just Say No" campaign. The 20 second spot looks like it was done in one take inside of a broom closet. My guess is that some producer at a TV station caught Captain Lou in a hallway and asked him to say whatever he wanted about drugs. He's wearing an ugly Mario hat and normal clothes. It starts out innocently enough, watch the video here:
The first half of the video says the usual stuff, people who do drugs aren't your friends, talk to a grown-up, etc. but with the last line it takes a very grim turn.
"And if you do drugs, you go to hell before you die. Please."
I personally don't know how you go to hell before you die, but jeez that sure is a heavy statement to throw at children from a character who uses leaves and mushrooms to enhance his performance.
From what I can find, this was a promo done for a Philadelphia affiliate station so it likely didn't have to go through many hands to make it to air. They were likely just glad they got something using the star of one of the station's shows. No way in hell (pun intended) this would make it to air nationally.
Long story short: if you have never done drugs in your life, you're good. If you have, though, enjoy spending the rest of eternity burning for your sin you godless heathen!