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Jordan Peele's actual horror movie debut was this anti-smoking PSA

Jordan Peele immediately established himself as one of the foremost horror directors working today with his debut, Get Out. But, lest we think it was only the success of his first movie that spurred on a wave of spooky-looking projects—Us, The Hunt, that Lorena Bobbitt documentary—let us remember that, even from his youth, Peele’s always been preoccupied with life’s greatest horrors.

No, we’re not talking about the Key & Peele Michael Jackson Halloween sketch. Look instead at this vintage anti-smoking PSA where a fresh-faced Peele and his pals square off against the monstrous specter of cigarettes.


The video, which celebrates the far-future “Smoke Free Class of 2000,” is perfectly mid-’90s. There’s a slap bass and synth horn soundtrack, kids in multi-colored windbreakers and turtlenecks, and lots of transition graphics breaking up both the interviews and Peele’s narration.

“Knowledge is powerful,” baby Peele intones at one point, his voice carrying the latent gravitas of a child whose eyes have just opened to the potential of a great talent. It’s as if, even decades earlier, Peele knew that he could use this skill to create horror flicks even more explicit. Before that, however, he’d opt to explore the dangers of a different kind of smoke: Dank-ass weed.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.