Friday, February 09, 2007

Why We Love Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool

You know what I think people love about Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool, and more generally about Mr. T? It's the fact that everything he's saying -- everything -- is utterly reasonable and a good message for kids. He's telling us to work hard, stay in school, be proud of who you are, don't blow your allowance on clothes with designer labels, don't give in to peer pressure, recover when you make a mistake, treat your mother right. You can't argue with any of that, unlike many '80s pop-culture works that carry messages that seem dubious today.

So when we watch Mr. T, we're torn: on the one hand, we like the messages he's trying to convey, and on the other hand, we find it totally insane that this violent psychopath with a mohawk and gold chains is being held up as a role model for the children. That's what's funny: not that Mr. T isn't being a good role model, but that he is being a good role model even though he really shouldn't be. Or as Seanbaby put it: " 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."

Here's another classic Be Somebody moment: the opening sequence, with a montage of memorable moments to come (including the amazing dancing of Jeff!) and Mr. T's first ever rap. Plus my favorite line in the video: "Do you know me? Of course you do! That's because I'm famous." Again, you can't argue with the message: Mr. T is famous, and he goes on to tell the kids that you don't have to be famous to Be Somebody. It's a good message. But it's Mr. T, and the fact that he's saying it makes it funny.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think part of the appeal of Mr. T is that, although he's always trying to play the scary tough guy, he's just so bad at it. He's completely unconvincing as a menace, and you can tell he's really just this big strange teddy bear putting on a self-parodic act.

I suppose that's why he fit The A-Team so well -- because that whole show was a knowing parody of violent action shows, wholly aware of how silly the whole thing was, and totally sanitized and cartoony in its depiction of violence. Nobody ever got hurt, the action cliches were lovingly embraced, and the unapologetically empty formula was just a flimsy excuse to let a bunch of zany characters go to town.