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The Navy's 'weirdly modest' syphilitic vampire
The U.S. government created a public service announcement in the 1970s warning against the dangers of STDs. It's back — and it's strange
What better way to warn 1970s Navy men about the dangers of syphilis than with a cartoon award ceremony for "communicable disease of the year."
What better way to warn 1970s Navy men about the dangers of syphilis than with a cartoon award ceremony for "communicable disease of the year."
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he video: In 1973, the United States Navy saw fit to produce a 20-minute animated public service announcement highlighting the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. In the whimsical "cautionary tale," Venereal Disease, represented by the syphilitic Count Spirochete, pulls off a huge upset at "the annual Communicable Disease of the Year Awards" and "wins the coveted Fourth Horseman award over diphtheria and smallpox." The unexpected victory prompts a deeper exploration of the disease, with Count Spirochete (a vampire, naturally) taking viewers on an international journey that documents the affliction's origins and dangers. The odd clip was uncovered by the Defense Department's Armed With Science blog, and is now on sale for a cool $55 on VHS tape.
The reaction: This is "the VD version of Schoolhouse Rock," says Spencer Ackerman at Wired, though it's "weirdly modest about broaching the actual means through which the disease is transferred." Still, it would make "a great holiday gift for your sexually reckless and technologically backward friend." Just "watch this," says Cyriaque Lamar at IO9. "Your head will explode Scanners-style from the sheer weirdness of it all." Watch the Navy's PSA:

 

 

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