Mr. T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool!
Part One: Unleashify Your Dream Goal Potential -- A Look at the Tapes that Motivate Us.
There are a lot of pathetic people out there taking advice from self-help tapes. They're modeling their lives after things that come out of their car stereo. They're commandifying their high impact destinies, and empowerizing their results-oriented successivations. For example, Debra Pestrak (right, creature) says, "You can Unleash the success within yourself to achieve your most passionate desires, goals, and dreams."
Self-help tapes are ridiculous transcriptions of valedictorian speeches. When does a person get to the point where they're ready to put living instructions on a cassette or a book? Does a guy wake up in a waterbed full of blondes wearing hundred dollar bills as lingerie and say, "Okay. I did it. I'm declaring myself Chief Instructor of Life." I have a feeling most of these self-help people are psychology majors that couldn't find a job at Orange Julius after college. I'm not saying I have everything figured out, but since I'm the only person who works for Seanbaby.com, when I go sit by the pool with a beer and a Gameboy, it's technically a company party. No matter what I do, it's a company party. That's an empowerfied lifestyle. I unleash my inner situation assertion and maximize my potentiality every single day. But I'd never consider myself wise enough to sell you a tape about how to behave.
I wrote a book on becoming a millionaire. The first page said, "Chapter One: I get you to buy this book. Then you change the name on the cover and put it back in the book store, charging one more dollar for it than I did." That was followed by 400 blank pages, some of them filled with pictures I drew of unicorns.
The entire How-to-be-a-Millionaire book phenomenon is a bunch of authors telling each other to buy books. There's a million dollars between them all, and they just keep passing it around amongst themselves. Eventually, it's going to be a bigger pyramid scheme than Amway, and by the year 2010*, everyone in America will have written a book about Financial Freedomization. The only way to make any money will be to buy one of these books for one million dollars and sell it for one million dollars plus one dollar. Keep in mind that you should never buy a book about financial achievementizing unless the cover is a giant photo of the author's face.
*Experts also speculate that by 2010, 75% of our country will be overweight and insects will have evolved the intelligence necessary to attack us. I only hope our huge amounts of booksales and massive guts can hold the bugs off long enough for Buck Rogers to get back from the future that's more future than 2010.
Part Two: Don't Be Somebody's Fool
Mr. T isn't some phony over-therapized dickhead. He's actually qualified to give us advice since he made something out himself before he started telling other people how to make something out of themselves. He was a bouncer, a bodyguard to the stars, a boxer, a movie star, a dwarf tosser, a TV star, a personality, and a janitor. His jewelry is worth more than the home you grew up in, and if he punches you, you're out. If you add up all the advice your parents ever gave you during commercial breaks, it's not even 10 percent of the knowledge Mr. T and his team of singing children pass on to us in the hour long Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool.
The video starts off like everything that makes you feel special-- with a song. Kids from around the world sing, "Be some-booody! You know you can! Be some-boooody! It's in your hands!" And any time there's a pause, Mr. T comes in, points at the camera and fills the gap with a gravelly "That's right!" or "I ain't playin'!"
It's a new technique of self-motivation. He doesn't teach you how to organize your planner or let the system work for you. Mr. T makes it very clear during the opening song that if you don't start feeling good about yourself, he is going to kick your ass. He's serious about it. For your own safety, you better get happy.
The "cheer up or I'll kill you" motivational technique might work better than hugs and trust falls. Here's how you can find out: Get a friend or relative with a weight problem - too big or too skinny, it doesn't matter. If they're anorexic, throw tennis balls at them as hard as you can. Work your way up to baseballs and throwing stars until they start eating right (If you reach the point where you're throwing bowling balls or larger at them, your energy would be better served just stuffing food in their mouths). Now, the chubbies are tougher than the skinnies, so you'll need more than tennis balls. You might have to smack them in the head with a two by four to make them feel good about themselves. Sucka.
The film is broken up into short segments about how to solve problems in your life. Problems like Anger, Peer Pressure, and Not Knowing How to Breakdance. And Mr. T didn't get just any kids off the street for the terrible skits and fruity songs. He got a talent agency's top up-and-coming stars: two future Kids Incorporated members (one of them was Marta, who later because singing sensation Martika, who later became underwear inspecting sensation, Inspector #8) and Kelly Jo Minter, the girl who couldn't drive in Summer School (which should have made the American Film Institute's top 100 movies).
Click here to see the intro song
If you don't really feel good about yourself, at least pretend to when Mr. T's around. Perhaps he can be tricked.
Above: Mr. T teaches us how to deal with frustration by leading us through his brave struggle to play the cello. Every 15 minutes it cuts back to his cello-playing mishaps such as falling out of the chair. That's right. He didn't know how to sit in a chair. After he gets that figured out, he flings the bow across the room (solved by tying it to his hand with a bandana), gets hit by falling ceiling chunks when his upstairs neighbor stomps at him (solved by gluing an umbrella to the cello), and of course he realizes he has no idea how to play the cello (solved by not caring).
Before the final parade and credits he overcomes and plays us an entire song. It's four seconds long and goes "uhhhhhhhhhhhh..... (then slightly higher)uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
click here to watch "Frustration" and "Anger."
Part Three: More Ways to Be Somebody.
From the intro song we can tell that whatever Being Somebody takes, it looks like it's a lot of singing and sliding down slides. Some parades of children are involved too. Then in Shyness, a little girl tells us that everyone deserves a chance to get heard, but proves no one's going to be listening unless you're hostile and insane.
Next Mr. T takes the kids to the park to tell them the importance of roots, using trees as a metaphorical aid, and occasionally to pee behind. He describes his own proud heritage by showing that he wearses his fatherses boots to remind him of home. And if they smelled anything like they looked, a few of the children were probably hospitalized with third degree burns on the inside of their nostrils. It looked like Mr. T's dad put his foot in lawnmowers for a living. Also, Mr. T wears his hair like his ancestors in Africa, the Mandika tribe*, and his gold chainses symbolize dat his ancestors was brought over here as slaves**. Then Mart(ik)a interrupted him with a song about loving each other that had nothing to do with anything, but made me wish to God they thought I was somebody soon. I didn't know if I could take another song like it.
*A documentary years later stated that Mr. T's mohawk was originally supposed to be in the shape of a T so he could point to his scalp when people asked his name. When they were cutting his hair, they fucked up and made it a not-T. It didn't have anything to do with Mandika tribes. It is possible Mr. T read about them in a book, though.
** When he was a bouncer, the rest of the bouncing staff would give any gold chains they pulled off of misbehavers to Mr. T. Eventually, his neck was buried in them, and that's how that got started. So they don't really symbolize his slave heritage. They're more like a symbol of how much ass he and his colleagues kicked while they were at work.
Click here to see "Roots"
"Styling" is the real highlight of the movie. Mr. T gives us fashion advice. Yeah, the guy holding his pants up with a rope and wearing boots made out of 80 percent duct tape is telling children how to dress. Mr. T has the kids perform a fashion show, and he does the announcing. He describes how their outfits combine flair and function, and they dance. And as fucking amazing as everything in this movie is, there's something that's insanely brilliant about having Mr. T read a cue card that says, "And here's Marta, our subway sweetheart. Taking the A-Train to fashion. With her mustard socks and her ketchup sash. She is a real hot dog."
If you don't feel better about your own life by now, you probably never will. But as a wise man in a mohawk once said, "Jeff! Who's the hippest cat in town. Ain't no doubt when Jeff's around. With pants pegged tight and hair and fitness, he is the eighties nod to fitness splendor."
Sometimes it's hard to make fun of people who work so hard to do it themselves. Seeing Jeff get down puts us in an awkward position where we can't tell if we're supposed to watch him dance or treat him for an epileptic seizure. The expression on his face doesn't help either. He's going at it with such seriousness, it's like it's he's the last survivor of a secret government dance team, and if he fails in his dance mission, the Russians win. So, Jeff, I'm not making fun of you, man. You take this goofy dance shit more seriously than I've ever taken anything in my life, and I think I respect that. But I'd still be surprised if you haven't reconstructed your face, changed your name, and moved to a country where this Mr. T video never got distributed.
Here's a song I wrote about Jeff:
Click here for the "Styling" video, but only if you think you deserve to see the greatest thing ever.
You're not done learning about Mr. T yet... On to Part Two
In "Anger," the kids are enjoying a picnic while Mr. T (whose entire career in Hollywood is based on screaming and punching) explains how wrong it is to lose your temper. There might have been some sort of script they were supposed to follow, but Mr. T forgets all his lines and stutters his way through some kind of nonsense about pickle relish. It gets worse when he starts trying to smash a nearby fly.
Then the fly lands in the potato salad. Wa-wa-waaaaaaa.
By this point, instead of telling us how to control our anger, he shows us. By picking up a loaf of French bread and destroying what's left of the picnic table while the kids look on in panic. We know by now none of them can act, so that's real fear behind their eyes.
The Styling section highlights Xena and Zena who are dressed "for that exciting walk to the grocery store." They might not be able to sing or act or have great jobs, but they're good examples of Somebodies since they have funny names and dance when you don't normally excect a person to dance. By this logic, Vanilla Ice is another good example of a Somebody. In his poignant film, Cool as Ice, he and his friends travelled from town to town on their motorcycles. And in each town, they GOT DOWN. Not in nightclubs or local proms. Just in the middle of the street or a field or wherever. They didn't seem to care if there was music either. The world was their dance highway, and these rebels needed to ride.