Every kid needs a role model, but growing up in the 1980’s meant all my heroes and heroines suffered from what are euphemistically known as “problems” – not only the fashion tastes of a Clothes For The Colour Blind charity shop, but also severe mental health problems too. Like Mr. T. Looking like the Exploited fan who spent the days selling cars and the nights pimping ho’s, Mr T had a furious attitude problem too, coming across as some withdrawn dust-head who was considering a new career as a serial killer. Despite his irregular bursts of savage violence though, T was “good with kids”, and because of this, some cheap-assed loser hit upon the, theoretically excellent, idea of getting the schizophrenic meathead to appear in an educational film teaching kids the proper way to live their lives.
Here Mr T. gives plenty of good, nay essential, advice. He explains how you conquer shyness by becoming aggressive and abusing people, and how you get into shape by lifting bags of popcorn, the biggest laughs here being provided by some little fat kid who, like all fatties, just keeps on failin’. Then there’s his thoughts on how to recoup from mistakes. Like how forgetting your trousers (heaven forbid) can be made to look like part of a healthy exercise regime and how to make falling over in the street look like part of a breakdancing routine. And this month long fashion from the eighties pops up again and again during Be Somebody…, with Mr T. being taught a few of the basic moves (i.e., the ones that look crap), although contrary to his “try and try again message”, T. just fucks them off when he can’t get them right. Another more enduring eighties product, rapping, also crops-up here, with Mr. T. himself performing a couple of street poems (with all the mechanical gusto of Stephen Hawking running low on batteries), my particular favourite entitled Treat Your Mother Right (written by none other than Ice T – boy, has he sure come a long way since 1984!). New Edition (apparently they’re famous) perform a song too, Peer Pressure, a warning against finding booze and cigs in litter bins. Like, do they expect you to pay for it?
Worst of all, though, is Mr T’s fashion advice. I mean, would you take tips from a guy who wears his hair in a mohican, feathers in his ears, chains around his neck and odd socks? Not unless you were some glued-up, cider-addled, half-wit gumby punk. The Toughest Man In The World hosts a fashion show, where the kids (The Dimples as they are collectively known) design their own outfits whilst the macho-mentalist hovers in the wings making lewd comments about his underage charges. “She’s a real hot-dawg.” he perves over one girl, and asks another to, “Stir up a breeze Janine. It’s gettin’ hot in here.”
If this sounds completely atrocious, then it’s because it is. It’s a true blasphemy on celluloid – or more accurately videotape. It’s been scripted by morons, features child-actors from the “special classes”, suffers bargain-basement visual effects and Mr T’s attention keeps wandering every time he starts listening to the voices inside his head. Still, it’s bloody good fun too, especially for those of a certain age-group who grew up in the tackiest, crassest, most imbecilic decade ever. This is where the children of the eighties truly get cashback.