After all these years, you know why you’ve been paranoid when indulging in some marijuana? It’s because of McGruff, the eighties and nineties PSA ready Crime Dog who glowered behind droopy eyes to keep you away from a life of crime. Sadly, the police dog’s eyes have now shifted as McGruff will be watching from a heavenly venue.
The 35-year-old Crime Dog was voiced by John “Jack” Keil, an advertising executive who came up with the character and voiced him for some time. Keil recently died at the age of 94 in Westminster West, Vermont. He has seemingly taken the PSA icon with him too, given he and his voice are no longer with us.
The dog was a big part of many public school’d American childhoods but also was something else: a tool in some pretty racist political shit. Think about it: McGruff was born in 1980, a year before Ronald Reagan took office. Reagan seemingly loved McGruff as he was seen hugging stuffed animals, canoodling with, and seemingly getting betrothed to the dog around 1984. How sweet! In 1986, the Reagan’s announced and released their iconic (“iconic”) “Just Say No” campaign which lives on in infamy as a racist, criminalizing tool his presidency kicked off that caused decades of problems in America.
McGruff – the lovable canine law enforcer that he was – is complicit in the lasting effects of said “Just Say No” campaign, a dog tool co-opted by conservatives to scare kids away from drugs and dark skinned people. How fucked up is that? It’s something I didn’t think about until Keil died and a quick Google search shows the connections between the awful president and the dog. McGruff must have met with other presidents but his tie to Reagan are all that come to the fore when one pokes around for answers.
So pour one out for McGruff and Keil. Smoke something. Snort something. Do something – but don’t get caught. Know that McGruff was a fun byline in your childhood along with D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. which, undoubtedly, also likely reinforced false information that harmed people. You can watch videos of McGruff below, if you care.