Matt Groening made his comedic name in the 1980s with the brutally nihilistic alternative comic Life In Hell (a favorite of mine in high school) and went on to far greater fame as the creator of the animated Simpson family as well as the TV series Futurama and Disenchanted.
One of Groening’s early forays into comedy occurred in 1972 when, as a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, he co-directed, co-wrote, and appeared in “Drugs: Killers or Dillers?,” a parody of the many inauthentically “authoritative” anti-drug propaganda film strips of that era. National Lampoon and the Firesign Theatre were a very big deal when Groening, Tim Smith, and Jim Angell teamed up to create the nine-and-a-half-minute movie—and you can see that influence pretty strongly here. The movie is amateurish but pretty good, considering.
Groening appears in the opening bit as a hippie degenerate who drinks way too much LSD. My favorite gag involves the eventual demise of a pair of cavemen who pop up to illustrate the origins of drug consumption. The montage of the various types of drugs is quite amusing as well.
The first title card of the movie reads “A TEENS FOR DECENCY PRESENTATION.” When Groening appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1989—there’s no way I didn’t watch this episode when it first aired—he mentioned that when he was in high school, he started a group by that name because a teacher had referred to Groening and his friends as “teens for filth.” The group’s motto was “If you’re against decency, what are you for?” and all the members secured election to the student body offices, yay.
Oddly, Fox, the network that hired Groening to make The Simpsons—the same network that series would eventually save from oblivion—was run by a man named Diller.
As a bonus, here’s the aforementioned appearance on Letterman, which occurred on December 12, 1989:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Meet the real-life ‘Simpsons’ kids in a 1969 film made by Matt Groening’s father, Homer