By Tom Dare
A BIZARRE US educational video from the 1960s outlining the ‘dangers’ of marijuana for teenagers has resurfaced this week, giving a glimpse into the public perception of the drug at the time.
Simply titled ‘Marijuana’, the film’s host promises to look at “the facts, and only the facts,” promising the subject will be examined “without any preaching from this film.”
However, the ensuing video seems to be geared toward scaring teenagers out of trying the illegal drug. It features surreal scenes which see a young man watching his face become grotesquely distorted in a mirror, a young girl driving her car over a cliff and another girl pointing a gun at her boyfriend, all while ‘under the influence.’
It discusses the similarities between being a ‘pothead’ and an alcoholic, often exaggerating the potential pitfalls of indulging in illegal narcotics.
The film concludes with the host, dressed in a shiny gold jumpsuit and sporting a 1960s Beatles-style haircut, saying that “what you do with your life is up to you.”
The 1960s saw the biggest cultural revolution in modern history sweep across the United States and the rest of the world, with so-called counterculture taking hold from California to New York.
Events such as the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement fostered a strong sense of resentment, particularly in younger people, with a rift developing between the older and younger generations.
One of the central tenets of this counterculture for many people at the time was the spread and celebration of drug culture and, more specifically, the celebration of marijuana and LSD.
Both illegal at the time, the government became increasingly concerned about the effect of the drugs on younger people, and took active steps to discourage their use.
Much of this was done with ‘educational videos’ that would be shown throughout the nation’s schools. Often these films would discourage interaction with the ongoing counterculture.