This Is Your Brain on Drugs
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This Is Your Brain on Drugs was a large-scale US anti-narcotics campaign by Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched in 1987, that used two televised public service announcements (PSAs) and a related poster campaign.
The first PSA, from 1987, showed a man who held up an egg and said, "This is your brain," before picking up a frying pan and adding, "This is drugs." He then cracks open the egg, fries the contents, and says, "This is your brain on drugs." Finally he looks up at the camera and asks, "Any questions?" A shorter version of this, simply showing a close-up of an egg dropping into a frying pan, was used a few years later.
The PSA was so popular that Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare spoofed the PSA with Johnny Depp (who appeared in the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie). The PSA goes on as normal until Robert Englund (who plays Freddy Krueger) hits Depp with the frying pan and says, "Yeah! What are you on? Looks like a frying pan and some eggs to me."
The second PSA, from 1998, featured 18-year-old actress Rachael Leigh Cook, who, as before, holds up an egg and says, "this is your brain", before lifting up a frying pan with the words, "this is heroin", after which she places the egg on a kitchen counter — "this is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin" — and slams the pan down on it. She lifts the pan back up, saying, "and this is what your body goes through", in reference to the remnants of the smashed egg now dripping from the bottom of the pan and down her arm. Rachael then says, "It's not over yet", and proceeds to smash everything in the kitchen with the frying pan, saying, "And this is what your family goes through! And your friends! And your money! And your job! And your self-respect! And your future!" She ends with "And your life". Cook finally drops the pan on the counter of the now-wrecked kitchen, and says, "Any questions?" The commercial was directed by Eden Tyler. It was written by Ken Cills and Doug Hill, who were working at the New York ad agency, Margeotes, Fertitta and Partners.
TV Guide named the commercial one of the top one hundred television advertisements ever. Bill Hicks spoke negatively about the commercial frequently during his stand-up routine, claiming "I've seen a lot of things while on drugs, but I have never looked at an egg and thought it was a fucking brain".
The second version was parodied on Robot Chicken, in which Rachael Leigh Cook (who provided the voice acting) goes on a psychopathic rampage, destroying everything she encounters, ending eventually with her smashing herself in the head and falling down a building.
In 2012, two YouTube PSAs based on the television campaign were released by Herman Cain; one with a goldfish and the other with a rabbit. The PSAs involve the current economy of the United States and promote the website Sick of Stimulus.
In the series Breaking Bad, the character Jesse Pinkman, references the commercial except he fries one egg and says, "this is your brain" then adds another egg and says "this is your brain on drugs".
Rob DenBlyker, one of the creators of the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, parodied the commercial in a 2013 installment where a father, after re-enacting the commercial, admits to his son that he himself is on drugs. "But I don't see how that's relevant," he adds.
- Just Say No
- I learned it by watching you
- Public service announcement
- Partnership for a Drug-Free America
- War on Drugs
- The second version of the "This Is Your Brain On Drugs" ad, featuring Rachael Leigh Cook.
- Official PDFA website