THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Sponsored by the Donald Trump Association of Already-Tried (And Generally Failed) Solutions
When it comes to finding a way to fix two of the most pressing issues in America today, President Trump has suggested solutions from an unlikely source -- things we have already done. A D.A.R.E. survivor weighs in.
After 17 teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were brutally murdered by a former classmate armed with an AR-15, President Trump derided the media and pointed the finger at violent video games, as if he were possessed by the vengeful spirit of Tipper Gore's mid-1980s perm.
We've been here before, on both fronts, and it was a disaster.
Many children of the 1980s and 1990s explicitly remember having to contend with virulent vitriol vehemently vocalized by paranoid post-war babies when it came to movies, TV, music, and video games. Many saw the enforcement of rating systems on media they consumed -- MPAA ratings for movies, ESRB ratings for video games, parental advisory stickers on music -- as a half-cocked attempt at force-feeding family values to consumers by enacting what are, in effect, arbitrary stop signs.
Such efforts also insisted on stigmatizing art and media and making the acquisition of it more difficult for those who were interested in it. This, in turn, made it more appealing and subsequently, became a contributing factor in surging sales and further envelope-pushing by developers.
It had the opposite effect of what was intended.
The D.A.R.E. program, designed to scream-preach lies about drugs to kids, utilized the same fire-and-brimstone approach when it came to its mission. When paired with nonsensical (and at times stressful) Partnership for a Drug-Free America PSAs bookending every Saturday morning cartoon, kids in the 80s and 90s could not escape the iron curtain their parents and grandparents were trying to erect between them and the more real aspects of living in late-20th century America.
The hyper-focus on drugs and violence led to a normalizing of drugs and violence. It's no wonder why meta-studies of the D.A.R.E. program have found that students who were part of D.A.R.E. likely have used drugs at a higher rate than those who were not.
But the President is unconcerned with the actual observable effects of ratings systems and anti-drug campaigns. He doesn't seem to understand that the solutions he has presented to gun violence and opioid addiction have been tried before, and that those efforts ultimately had an effect opposite of what was intended.
But, he seems to be standing his ground, so to speak, despite the criticism, so it seems we all just need to take a step back and watch this blow up in his face like it did in the faces of family values politicians and voters in the 1990s.
This does raise an interested question, though. In reverting back to late-80s/early-90s social awareness practices, does this mean we get to see Rachel Leigh Cook smash another kitchen and Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue 2: Electric Boogaloo?