You've all seen Pee Wee Herman eat it, but until today, you were never really sure if Mr. T Cereal actually existed. Indeed it did - the timeless icon who is now only popular enough to suggest collect calling plans was once such a phenomenon that he had his very own box o' breakfast.
I don't think I'd be pushing it if I said Mr. T was the third most universally recognizable person in the world, behind the Pope and the damn McDonald's clown. I don't think the distinction has so much to do with T's charm, or his effect on society as a whole. It's just that nobody else in the world would ever make themselves look like that. Is this the key to fame and fortune? Just making yourself look so unabashedly odd that the world has no choice but to pay attention? Is Mr. T simply a window for the people at large to learn the nuances of global recognition?
Think about it. You've got what it takes. You've got the personality, the smarts. You've got panache and all the class in the world. But somehow, you seem to go about your virtues unnoticed; a leaf in the wind with unlimited potential. You don't know where to turn. You don't know how to make people see what you've got to offer. What do you do?
Simple. Get a mohawk and combine the style attributes of an Egyptian queen and a drunken hobo. Shiny necklaces are an eye-catcher, so don't wear just one - wear eighty of 'em. Attach Indian dreamcatchers to your ears. Pretty soon you'll be on every magazine cover in the world. The editors won't know exactly what you've done, but if you look that psychotic, you've gotta be noteworthy. It worked for Mr. T. It could work for you, too.
T's cereal isn't based on his A-Team exploits, rather his fine work in the animated Mr. T cartoon. The show featured T and a band of young do-gooders going around town, making things right. There wasn't much about it to really complain about. Well, aside from the connotations that Mr. T was a pedophile. I knew there had to be a catch. Nobody's that perfect.
T's team do their T-shaped salute to kick things off as we delve deep into the hard sell for his new cereal. It's a proud moment for all involved, but one screwy marketing test failed to show what we really wanted from a Mr. T cereal: marshmallow Mr. T heads. There was just no way they could get away with this if they excluded something so obviously needed, so it's no surprise that the junk didn't last long on store shelves. I wonder if he got an inferiority complex because the Trix rabbit had better longevity.
See, the main problem here is that the cereal is just crispy corn 'T's. That's it. It's just Cap'n Crunch shaped differently. If you're going to rip off another cereal, at least pick one that's edible. This stuff was better served as tank gravel. I'm not sure what the fascination these companies have with consistently putting out cereal that literally slices the roof of your mouth to pieces as you're eating it. Was there some unmentioned researcher who proved that bleeding inspired our appetites?
I'm telling you, cereals like this are why yogurt got so popular. People got sick of all the injuries. Just because it's the most important meal of the day doesn't mean it has to be the most painful. If I could quote T himself - "das poppycock, man."
The gang starts slapping each other five in celebration of T's hot new product. This wasn't casual high-fiving, either - they made sure every single one of 'em slapped every other one's hands. They literally stand there for fifteen seconds slapping each other five. I haven't seen this many congratulatory gestures since my friends successfully pirated Spider-Man off Grokster. I'd say free movies are worth a lot more hoopla than crappy cereal.
T starts rambling on about why we should eat his cereal. The reasons are justified, I suppose. Apparently, we'd be 'fools' not to eat it and Mr. T would pity us. You know, don't discount the technique here. A lot of kids were really scared of Mr. T. I know I was, and I'd rather cut my gums open on his granite cereal than face him for not eating it. I know he's supposed to be friendly and heroic, but there's just something about a guy in ripped denim that keeps my doors perpetually locked.
Okay, I'm not being honest. It's not the ripped denim. It's not even the jewelry, or the raspy voice. It's his damn head. Look at that thing. I mean it, take a really good look at it. Picture seeing that outside your bedroom window in the middle of the night. I don't think getting an autograph would be the first thing to cross your mind.
One of T's cronies does a good job making the cereal look palatable, but it doesn't really count since she's a cartoon. While at first I was taken aback by her head's amazing ability to mimic a strawberry, I soon moved onto higher plateaus and wondered what Mr. T would look like with her hairdo:
YOU CALL THIS PHOTOSHOPPIN'?
I pity the fool who don't edit the spoon outta my hair!
Since they spent the majority of the commercial just slapping each other five, the group guesses that they've gotta give us a great ending. So, in the climax moment, everyone flies and swims through a sea of T's cereal, trying to illustrate that any who eat it immediately become One With T. Mr. Tao?
All in all, a simple cereal from a complex individual. What it lacked in taste it more than made up for in forcing you to picture a big scary gold encrusted pirate man during breakfast. It's also a major encourager of hope. If Mr. T - Mr. T whose main qualities are raw charisma and looking like a walking pawn shop - if Mr. T can get so high up on the chain that companies spend millions making a cereal out of him...you can do it too. You can make it. You can be a star.
So what are you waiting for? Go start building those triceps. Chop that hair. Glue pyrite to your wrists. Success is but a makeover away. The cereal sucked, but the message is a borderline godsend. I don't thank Mr. T for the stomach cramps, but certainly, I thank him for showing me that where there's a will and a mohawk...there's a way.
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