Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day From Mr. T.

Happy Mother's Day. Look, if I had some poignant words of wisdom for this day, I'd tell ya. I swear! I would. But I got nothin'. Not a thing. And I can admit that. No problem. Others, however, seem to not be able to come to terms with the fact that they don't have much to say. No, instead of admitting it and sticking with "Happy Mother's Day", they go on ahead and try to painstakingly compose an inspiring and tearjerking Mother's Day message, which ends up being not so much of any of those things. Who do we blame for this? Why, Mr. T., of course.

That's right. Mr. T. Mr. T of the A-Team. (Is everything in this man's life about initials?) In what would to be somewhere amidst the 1980s (judging from the techno/disco/transition-to-80s-music beat), Mr. T. of the A-Team starred in and voiced the words in a song that I suppose was intended to be a tribute to mother's, as well as an instructional piece for children who are arguing with their peers (and using rather humorous, childish, 1980s insults). The insults are all fine and in good jest, but then someone drags the other one's mother into it and suddenly, this little public service announcement or whatever we thought it was before that, turns into a musical number with great educational value after the disagreement between the kids is intervened by Mr. T.

The choice of actors for the bickering peers is an interesting one. There is a small black boy who appears to be quite short. Apparently, if something works in one situation, it's necessary that it be added to every other situation, regardless as to whether or not it makes sense. 80s TV, as you may or may not care to remember, seemed to think that the way to a show's success was the addition of a small black actor. Gary Coleman. Emmanuel Lewis. Benson. It's the same sort of theory that dominates any sort of reality competition show these days. Only instead of a short black actor, there is an acerbic, British judge.

Anyway, in addition to that actor, there is a large female to serve as the bitchy peer. If there was ever a short male actor in 80s TV, it was almost guaranteed that there would be an obnoxious, rotund, female who always spoke her mind and who always thought she was beautiful (even though she looked like she had just eaten an entire racetrack). She has the typical large bitchy female, short frizzy hair with a hairband of sorts and large, white, round, plastic earrings. She has a round full face and is frequently seen with her hands on her hips, looking down as she towers over her antagonist and hurls insults at the little, little man.

It goes something like this:

Big Girl: Well, you couldn't be more than five.

Gary Coleman: Oh, yeah? You're so fat, they have to jack you up to take off your shoes.

Big Girl: Yeah? Well, you're so skinny, you're eyes are in single file.

Webster: Well you're so ugly your EARS stick out to get away from your FACE!

Big Girl: Well your Mama is so.....

Mr. T.: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! (Missss-ter T to savethedaaaaaaayyy!!) Don't bring anyone's mother into this. She ain't here. (Oh, sure. If she were there, THEN it would be perfectly OK to get out those 'Yo Mama' jokes? I kinda wish he had let her get off just ONE. Maybe it would have been my favorite! "Yo Mama'sso fat they had to paint a line around her so you could tell if she was walking or rolling. He-hee. Still funny.)

Mr. T.: And if it wasn't for your mother, you wouldn't be here. So remember, when you put down one mother, you're putting down mother's all over the world. (He got that from not having her be there when the insults were about to fly? Huh. Interesting)

Of course, right after that last word of wisdom, the boy and the girl look at each other with that Scooby-Doo head tilt and a look on their faces as if they have just heard the most magical words ever. They nod in agreement at his sage wisdom which shoots out from those glittering gold chains and medallions (the purpose of which I don't believe has ever been disclosed, other than perhaps to draw one's attention away from the mohawk) and then they exit stage left, the girl with her hand on the boy's shoulder and a smile on her face, as she's going to eat him for lunch when they're out of the camera shot.

We get this great shot at the beginning, right when the beat starts to be heard. There's Mr. T. in his denim shorts that are so short I'm pretty sure he must have come straight to this studio directly from shooting a Nair commercial. He also has the knee high, striped sweat socks, large tennis shoes and the traditional sleeveless black shirt or sweater vest (it's really hard to tell with all of those chains on). In the background are his do-wop girls. Only they appear to have been recruited from a temp agency that hires out secretaries. What the hell is that? There's a long skirt with a shiny belt. There are women's Dockers with the long sleeve shirt which sports the puffy lace cuffs and the velour collar. You know the kind. And then there's the dark slacks, dark jacket ensemble. All are sporting comfortable flats and a hairdo which involves feathering and/or a perm. They're doing the two step white man's shuffle and hand/arm gestures that they have clearly remembered from the days when they were on the cheerleading squad back in high school. . And because there's three of them there are naturally only two microphones on stands. I don't know why they just don't spring for the third mike. What does that accomplish? Having velour-collar go back and forth? Is it a guy thing? Two girls that close together, guys think they're going to kiss? Is that it? It must be. There's no other explanation for it.Just as there is no explanation for this whole video.

And it begins with the cheerleaders singing the chorus, "Treat her right. Treat your mother right." That melodic composition is repeated in that typical 1980s chorus/backup singer tune.(Trust me, you'll know it when you hear it.) Meanwhile, Mr. T., completely unaware that people all across the globe will be able to see this atrocity years in the future thanks to an as-then uninvented technology called 'The Internet', tries to stay with the beat, mimic the cheerleaders moves and then 'sing'. I've quoted 'sing' because it's Mr. T., for cryin' out loud! I don't really know what to call it, it's barely grunting to music, but it's definitely NOT singing, I know that.

The video of this musical number is below, but I just have to spell out the lyrics here so that you get the full effect of what an odd Mother's Day tribute this little ditty really is.

Mother. There is no other. Like mother. So treat her right.
Mother. I'll always love her. My mother. So treat her right. Treat her right.

M is for the moans and the miserable groans
from the pain that she felt when I was bone (
that's the Mr. T. way of saying 'born' so that it rhymes with 'groans and moans'. Clever, eh? Good Lord...)

O is for the oven with the burning heat
Where she stood making sure I had something to eat
(So now his mother is slaving away in a kitchen. Nice.)

T is for the time when she stayed up at night
and took my temperature when I wasn't feeling right.

H is for the hard earned money she spent
to put clothes on my back and tries to pay da rent
. (I'm not so sure it was the 'clothes' that she bought for you that made it hard to 'pay da rent' as much as it was all of those gold chains.)

E is every wrinkle I put on her face
and every worry that I caused when I stayed up late. (
Now you've withered the woman into the likeness of a Shar-pei.)

The last letter R is that you taught me respect
and for the room up in heaven that I know she will get. (Good way to end the song about your mother! By throwing out the reminder that she's gonna die one day. Yep, she'll be dead!)

She's agreeing second to none
Take care of mother, you only get one.

Then as the chorus is repeated a few times, the camera shows several different scenarios which are supposed to represent the typical ways that kids interact with their moms. There's the giving her the fake box of candy that a big snake jumps out of when she opens it. There's the tandem bike ride through the park. And opening the door to Mom's convertible for her. There's the kissing her on the cheek with your mouth full of food. And helping Mom carry in the groceries. And who could forget giving Mom a shoulder rub while still wearing your batting gloves from baseball practice earlier in the day? Not me, that's for sure!

And the final shot is of someone (I can't tell if it's a guy or a girl. There's too much big hair. There's too much big headband. There's too much one long dangly earring. And there's too much looking like New Kids on the Block which kids in the 80s did regardless as to whether they were male or female. I just don't know.) who clearly is on the way to join in a Jane Fonda workout video shoot (just as soon as they find their missing Reeboks and striped leg warners). This person looks into the camera and suggestively says (with this sly, all knowing look), "Be somebody!" Huh?

Be somebody? Like who? I thought this was about mothers! Are we supposed to be mothers?! I don't wanna! No, serioiusly, I do NOT! Besides, this is geared to be directed at children. You can't be suggesting that children 'be somebody' by being mothers! I don't care if it is Mother's Day! It's just not right!

See? That's why, if you can't think of anything poignant to say on Mother's Day, you're better off either saying nothing or just getting a card. If you try to piece a bunch of words together, who knows how it could come out? You might end up just like Mr.T. did there and start suggesting that children get pregnant. What a PR nightmare that must have been. No wonder he didn't go farther in his career!

Happy Mother's Day.

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