TNG: The Game

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

I was pretty little when Rachel Leigh Cook broke an egg into a hot frying pan and proclaimed, "This is your brain on drugs." I was an elementary schooler when the (scientifically documented to be ineffective) DARE program was at its peak. I was told to "Just Say No" by everyone from Nancy Regan to Punky Brewster but I didn't care about any of it. Even as a kid, it all seemed patronizing and preachy. None of these things were going to keep me from trying drugs.

The thing is, I never tried drugs. It's not like I never had an opportunity either. I grew up with artist parents and their artist friends who threw hazy artist parties. I went to an inner-city middle school where cops lead drug dogs around on leashes to sniff lockers on a daily basis. I spent all of high school in Kentucky where both pot and meth are booming industries--the cops literally burned big piles of confiscated marijuana in the field behind the high school. Still, I wasn't ever even tempted and I never really put together why that might be.

Then, yesterday, I re-watched "The Game." You may remember this episode as the one in which Wesley Crusher and Ashley Judd (the ship's smartest teenagers) save the day when Up-For-Anything-Riker brings an addictive, mind-controlling game back to the Enterprise. I've only seen this one a few times but each time I watch it, it brings back the totally creeped out feeling I got in my first viewing. From the icky "pleasure" face everyone's going around making to the weird way they're all crazily pushing the game on other crew members, to their complete loss of control, this episode totally weirds me out. Especially this lady:

  Here's a close-up in case you weren't already skeeved out enough.

Anyway, I'm not saying that Star Trek kept me off drugs. What I am saying is that, in a culture where adults are constantly talking directly (down) to kids about what they should and shouldn't do, sometimes all it takes to get kids thinking about bigger issues is a simple episode of something they already love, dealing with something in a legit (not after-school special) way. 

I read that Braga's original intention with this episode was to make a statement about today's kids (I say those words in my old man voice) being addicted to video games but my childhood brain saw the totally stoned look on everyone's face and jumped straight to a drug analogy. I've been creeped out by this one ever since. I never had to "Just say no" or think about my precious egg yolk brain in a pan but somewhere, in the back of my mind, I remembered this episode and internalized it. 

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