Almost without exception, cultural detritus is worth examining for what it reveals about its time, a fact doubly true when artifacts were meant to shape the cultural landscape itself. Few pieces fit this description better than mental-hygiene films: odd, once-ubiquitous objects of classroom-based moral and social guidance covered with loving thoroughness in Ken Smith's Mental Hygiene. Wisely viewing his subjects as more than mere objects of camp, Smith presents a balanced view of the films, admiring their intentions (what's wrong with courtesy?) while objecting to their methods (what's right about mindless conformity and subjection to authority?). He also reveals some of the stories of the producers and studios behind the films themselves, including GQ and Esquire founder David Smart's production-line-like Coronet Films and Dick Wayman, the creator of countless gore-filled cautionary driving films, who pursued his subject with the intensity of a snuff filmmaker (and who may have been making porn on the side). Smith's central thesis—that these films don't reveal a simple, more naïve time but a wish for such a thing arising out of great tumult—helps explain them far better than mere mockery could. That aside, the real meat of Smith's book, and what makes it infinitely thumbable, is the final section containing detailed, often extremely funny descriptions of hundreds of mental-hygiene films with Troy McClure-worthy titles—Why Punctuate?, Kitty Cleans Up, Drug Abuse: The Chemical Tomb, Soapy The Germ Fighter, Boys Beware, What Makes Sammy Speed?—that alone make the book worth picking up.