I went to watch Switchfoot’s new video “Oh, Gravity” at Yahoo Music. I didn’t much enjoy the video, but I did find the anti-drug advertisment putting forth a surprising message. Apparently, the commercial doesn’t come up every time you play the video, but I found a transcript here.

The ad essentially argues that sitting on the couch smoking weed is not a happy way to live life. The protagonist teenage boy admits that smoking pot won’t get him in trouble or hurt anyone else, instead he’ll just do nothing on his friend’s couch. He compares this with the alternative of being “active,” getting out there and doing fun stuff: biking, ice-skating, playing basketball. He gets off the couch at the end and decides, “Me? I’ll take my chances out there,” gesturing out to where the action is.

Most anti-pot commercials I’ve seen before put forth the old “slippery-slope” argument: if you smoke pot, you’ll end up hooked on cocaine or heroin. When employing this argument on drug-using or pro-legalization of marijuana folk, I find that it isn’t very persuasive based on experience. This new angle seems more effective since it appeals to a positive good instead of trying to strip away happiness. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on this tactic: Is it too lenient on marijuana users, i.e. does it downplay a real danger? Would Aristotle use this argument?

Also, check out analysis of the ad at iLiberty.org. Disappointingly, they don’t deal with the claim of the ad. Instead, they point to statistics that show how many are arrested for using pot. I would be interested in an argument by a pro-legalization person against the angle of the ad.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Whether something encourages one’s development as a sofa jockey has absolutely nothing to do with its legality. Television is legal. Video games are legal. Potato chips are legal. Total and absolute non sequitur.

  • I agree. It’s hard to find a good argument on television these days…

    However, I don’t think the ad was pushing to keep marijuana illegal. I took it to simply say you could live life better if you don’t use it. That’s what made it a different twist.

  • I’m not disagreeing with your interpretation of the ad–just your claim that iLiberty doesn’t acknowledge its point. They do. Like me, they see its point as counterproductive to the Drug War–which isn’t a bad thing. As the website explains,

    “Many pot smokers will admit that marijuana tends to make them sluggish and lazy, and that alone may be a good reason to warn teens against using it. But the government doesn’t just warn people not to smoke pot. It arrests and jails them for doing so. Almost 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana offenses last year; 700,000 of those arrests were for possession alone.

    Should people be arrested because they’re not interested in ‘driving hard to the rim’ and would rather sit on a friend’s couch watching TV? Or is it time to admit that people don’t deserve to go to jail simply because they’d rather smoke pot than go ice skating?”

    The ad was sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy., not exactly an innocent bystander in the Drug War. I can only hope it represents a sea change in anti-drug attitudes–but that hope is as wispy as a puff of smoke.

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