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Every once in a great while there comes a cultural icon that truly exemplifies all that is right with the world. One such icon is the one and only Mr. T. That's right, the star of such classic films as D.C CAB and ROCKY III, along with a respectable run on the classic NBC show The A-Team, former nightclub bouncer and bodyguard to the stars, the man who went toe-to-toe in a boxing match with Rowdy Roddy Piper at the original WrestleMania, the man known only by one letter: T. And while Mr. T may be living it up now doing guest spots on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and commercial spots for 1-800-COLLECT, nearly two decades ago he starred in one of the finest public service announcements of all time: The legendary Be Somebody...Or Be Somebody's Fool.
For those of you that may not be familiar with this amazing piece of infotainment, you're in luck. I've managed to scrounge up a copy, thanks to the one and only J "Me So" Hornsby, and am here to give you the highlights and lowlights of this amazing video. So without further adieu, let's get on with the program, shall we?
Be Somebody... is 52 minutes of goodness, hosted by the man himself and featuring an aspiring bunch of child actors as well as a handful of celebrity guests. Throughout the video, T and friends show you how to feel good about yourself, show confidence, and be an altogether better person, through the aid of several short skits. I've decided to break down each of these skits and let you know just what T thinks you should do to be a better person. Oh, I'm also going to rate each skit on a scale of 1-10 for effectiveness.
To start out, T gives a little introduction where he tells the audience (or more accurately "you with the teeth") that they know him because he's famous. Of course, Mr. T has an odd way of pronouncing certain words, and "famous" is the first one he really manages to butcher. But T tells us that we don't have to be famous to be well=known and respected, and so we begin the Official Mr. T guide to overcoming adversity. And the first affliction to get over?
We begin with a young girl of Asian descent filming a commercial for shyness. Now, I'm not sure why there would be a commercial for shyness, or why they would go for the irony of casting a really shy girl to appear in it, but basically our little shy friend is getting yelled at by the director. And then, all of a sudden, she snaps. Like a demon. Tears into the director, and then completes her anti-shyness rant like she just got the Cowardly Lion's big dose o' courage. And then she storms off.
This segment is really short, and doesn't really accomplish much. Plus, There's no Mr. T in it. Not a good start. I'll rate this segment 2/10. Let's hope for better numbers here soon.
Which leads us to...
"You can't know where you going if you don't know where you from", bellows the mighty Mr. T, as we check in to him and a group of younger children chillin' by an oak tree. He makes some metaphor about the tree and people having roots in common. And then, as if to make up for the banality of the last segment, T goes on a winner of a diatribe, wherein he...
shows off his duct-taped covered boots that were passed down by his father...
Explains that his ancestors are from Africa and that they were members of the Mandika tribe and that's why he wears his hair like that, and then the real kicker...he actually has the gall to tell these kids that "These gold changes [sic] I wear represent my ancestors being brought over as slaves". Uh-huh. Okay, first off, T, they're pronounced "Chains", and we all know you used to take them from folks when you were a Chicago night club bouncer. Don't lie to these children and tell them that they're some sort of symbols of your heritage. You totally just shot your credibility, T.
The kids recount their stories of their own roots, and then all join arms and spontaneously break out in song. And then, look what we have here...
It's Martika! That's right, Marta Merrero, star of Kids Incorporated and the subject of about 85 percent of my eight-grade fantasies as a result of her "Toy Soldiers" video, actually got her start supporting Mr. T in this video gem. Of course, with her mullet and feathered hair, she's a far cry from the raven-haired vixen in sheer black clothing from the late '80s that generated many dirty thoughts in my blooming pubescence. But it's still Martika, and we can all be proud of that.
Okay, the Roots song goes on for about five minutes longer than I ever dreamed eternity would last and we see cameos from other Kids Incorporated stars such as...
...this chick, the chick who couldn't drive in SUMMER SCHOOL. Upon further research, I realize her name is Kelly Jo Minter and she also appeared in HOUSE PARTY, NEW JACK CITY, and DOC HOLLYWOOD, but whatever. She's no Martika.
This segment finally ends, as the music fades out. I'm tempted to go high on the score for the audacity of Mr. T's blatant lies, but the song ruins the effect. I'll go 4/10.
The next bit is part of a recurring theme. Basically, T tries to play the cello and holds it up to his chin and as a result falls on his ass.
Mr. T in a tux falling down is worth a laugh, so I'll give this segment 6/10.
Oh, there's more to this fine piece of entertainment...
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