STRONG KIDS, SAFE KIDS (1984) Henry Winkler, John Ritter and a dozen other random people convince kids "they're never to blame, even if it felt good."

strongkids_betaboxTheme Song:


“The Anus Song” by Chris Hollis.

Interesting Dated References: Blaming children for being the victims of sex abuse. Sitcom actors being famous.

Best Line: All.

Social Context: Yet another response to the rampant sexual abuse, child abductions, and child exploitation happening in the 80s. Via mediocre sitcom actors of the world.

Summary: Riding closely with a dozen other anti-kidnapping/sexual abuse tapes with famous actors, Strong Kids, Safe kids clearly rises way above. It’s ten times better than Mr.T’s Be Somebody, more confusing than Malcolm Jamal Warner’s Home Alone, and way more surreal than Gary Coleman’s For Safety’s Sake. Strong Kids, Safe Kids is much more than the sum of all those, and here’s why:

First off, the film opens with an announcement that the end of the tapes includes an extra half hour of blank tape for you to create a “video record” of your child. The logistics of families having a Betamax recordable camera in the mid-80s was highly unlikely and even if they did, the odds of them figuring out how to bypass the “non-recordable” tab on this commercially manufactured tape were damn near impossible. But nonetheless, the offer was made in order to garner the tape another selling point. So as the feature starts, we see Henry Winkler doing a really bad The Fonz impression where he introduces his friend Henry Winkler.

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Then the camera flashes to a lavender-sweater-wearing Winkler addressing a crowd of children. I guess the makers were assuming children ages 2-5 would be familiar with The Fonz and instantly accept his creepy real life persona. Winkler addresses the crowd and parents and says he is here to prevent “sexual abuse and abduction.” Then wacky sound effects flash back to Fonz who downplays the lecture and tries to make it seem fun. Then Winkler introduces the people who will be talking to the kids. They jump right to some 80s chick who talks about her social work with sexually abused children. We also meet Saul Gordon:

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You make the judgment call on his creepy factor. Then they introduce us to Chris Hollis, the creepy musician guy who makes songs about child sex abuse.

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To top it all off, we are introduced to an actress named Mariette Heartly and Papa Smurf. That’s right, Papa Smurf is going to teach you about sexual abuse. I feel like I’m in art school and I just took a bunch of acid.

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Suddenly, “Me, too! John Ritter!,” who is followed by Yogi Bear. This is actually starting to seem like some type of bizarre community service project for actors with D.U.I.’s. And were young children in 1984 really familiar with Happy Days and Three’s Company? So after this all-star cast is introduced, the program starts.

The first segment, entitled “The Kid Who Never Talked,” in which a pastel-laden 80s chick tells us we need to tell grown-ups about certain things. Then it moves on to the second part, “The Great Divide,” in which Saul Gordon tells us to listen to our children and stop blaming them when they get abused. That’s correct, he tells us not to blame the children for being abused. Can you imagine a time when they had to coach parents to not blame kids when they get abused? I’m surprised most of us who grew up back then are even alive today. Then we learn some rules:

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For the record, they constantly refer to the vagina as the vulva in this movie. After these eight or so rules, Pac Man shows up and literally eats the screen.

Welcome to the next section called: Down There in Front. During this section, through colorful type-treatment, we learn such words as “Ding Ding,” “Tally Whacker,” and “Tee Tee.”

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Chris Hollis shows up and proceeds to sing what I have deemed the “Theme Song” which is linked above in the “Theme Song” section. Please listen. Take it all in. I’m not even going to try to justify or explain the song, it speaks for itself. Then they go into more shit about how to talk to kids about sexual abuse with our good friends Papa Smurf, Saul, and the pastel-clad lady who keeps changing her outfits. Then there’s one of those super-intrusive sections where they demand you pause the tape and talk to your kids about sexual abuse.

So then the minstrel is back, singing a song about the three kinds of touches, which are laid out as such: “A heart, a question mark, and no.” The heart touch is love, the question mark is one that escalates into no, and the no is a no. Then a bunch of day camp kids sing a song:

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The Smurfs come out and tell you to say, “No, Go, Tell.” Then the pastel lady explains the difference between sexual touching and a normal, good, butt-scrubbing by your mom in the bathtub. Then John Ritter is back. Then he disappears again and Scooby Doo appears and shows us how to tell a ghost, “No!” Then The Fonz singles out some kid named Paul:

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Paul is rolling hard on a Nash skateboard right next to a Datsun pick up truck. Fonz demands he say, “No,” to his offers. Yes, The Fonz forces him to reject his Fonz-like offers.

The next section is called “About Secrets.” It addresses the whole thing where adults force children to keep secrets. I think that was a mid-80s technique used by pederasts that pre-dates the modern day technique of abduction and forcing children into crawlspaces. Then there’s some more coaching for kids to “tell.” Some more John Ritter, some more Smurfs, and some more songs that aren’t so good. The Fonz references Pocket Simon as a “pocket video game.”

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Time for the wrap up, in which they clarify kids should, “Tell, Talk, and Honk.” They also clarify it wasn’t your fault. Then a bunch more kids shout, “No!,” at the camera, Fred Flintstone shows up, and John Ritter does the rundown of things predators do to get kids into cars, including offering candy, promising puppies, and the whole, “Your mom is sick” thing.

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Then they again tell parents to under-react and to never accuse. They reinforce this by having the minstrel tell the kids “they are never to blame, even if it felt good.” Then the all-star cast bids everyone farewell, including Ritter, Winkler, and The Fonz.

Poster and Box Art: Nothing much going on here.

Availability: If you’re smart you will track down a used VHS.

12 comments

  • I have this on laserdisc. Sadly, you could not record on the unused side, and thus the intro about the blank tape at the end isn’t on the disc.

  • My parents actually left me with my sister and two friends and went to dinner and had us watch this when I was seven or eight. Years later I found it in their old tapes box and sampled it but never used it. I love that song still.

  • the best video ever! saw it years ago at school and spent yrs telling peeps about it. quite rightly no one believed me until it managed to track a copy down on ebay a fews back. it’s pretty much the only thing i watch. my mate has also managed to put it onto dvd. it looks so fresh on the old doovda. i highly recomend

  • And, this video is every bit how you describe. I have it laying around somewhere. My friends and I will randomly reference it or sing the songs if we are feeling especially ridiculous or drunk. The damn thing is hilarious.

  • Good lord. I don’t think I would be able to sit through that, even for the purpose of writing a hilarious review.

  • i haven’t laughed this hard a long time.i’m not matty boy, or your 3 friends, and i read this blog often.there are others, and you’re doing a wonderful job.

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