Lost in Cyberspace
By Devin D. O'Leary
MAY 26, 1998:
Mr. T on the WWW
Why Mr. T? The honest answer is, "I have no idea." Of
all the pop-culture icons of the past 20 years, why have the Internet
intelligentsia chosen Mr. T as their mascot of cyberspace savvy?
Why dedicate hundreds of megabytes of hard drive space to the
seemingly pointless worship of Mr. T? Sure, the gold-bedecked
star of "The A-Team" is one cool dude, but ... . Ah
heck, it's just not worth analyzing. We just have to accept it.
There are scores of Mr. T Web sites for the same reason that rave
kids love the Cat in the Hat and the French think Jerry Lewis
Mr. T Ate My Balls (www.cen.uiuc.edu/~nkpatel/mr.t/index.html)--Yes,
this is the infamous page that started it all. Several scanned
photographs of the mohawked one with added word balloons that
appear to profess T's love for human testicles. A grimacing headshot
of Mr. T might be accompanied, for example, by the cartoon caption,
"Damn, them balls is good!" This site has been profiled
in several magazines, the University of Florida newspaper and
a Dave Barry book (proving not all publicity is good). Believe
it or not, there are now hundreds of "Ate My Balls"
Web pages littering cyberspace--all following a similar pattern
and substituting a beloved/loathed media icon. "Barney Ate
My Balls," "Chewbacca Ate My Balls," "Bill
Clinton Ate My Balls," "David Hasselhoff Ate My Balls"
... and the list goes on. There is a certain Zen numskull appeal
to it all, and if you want to check out the growing cult phenomenon,
you might as well start at the source.
Mr. T vs. Superman (www.uidaho.edu/~bokm9606/super/super.html)--Next
up on out tour de weirdness is this pioneering site, which pits
a pissed-off Mr. T against the greatest American superhero (as
thesped by Christopher Reeves). In this goofy photo comic (an
art form pioneered by the Italians and dubbed "fumetti"),
evil Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) offers Mr. T a handful of gold
chains in exchange for kicking Superman's ass. Needless to say
in this world of Mr. T veneration, it's T who comes out on top
(and consumes a certain someone's superballs). Just like in the
case of the above site, there are now dozens of similar "Mr.
T vs." sites. Again, this is as stupid as they come, but
sure to induce an embarrassed chuckle or two. Would you believe
46,377 people have visited this site?
Mr. T Throughout History (www.uidaho.edu/~kowa9693/history/history.htm)--There must not be a lot for the students at the University of Idaho
to do. Like the fellow student who programmed Mr. T vs. Superman,
this enterprising young co-ed has spent his time writing stuff
about Mr. T. This page shows dozens of digitally altered photographs
proving Mr. T's important role in several groundbreaking moments
in American history that may have been left out of your last textbook.
There's Mr. T hauling ass across America in the A-Team van with
Abe Lincoln. There's Mr. T ending the depression by selling off
one of his gold chains. Not only has some lad dubbed "Monkey
Boy" created the Mr. T Throughout History Page, he's gone
through the trouble of making a Mr. T quote of the week page,
a Mr. T vs. Knight Rider page and a Mr. T's Shopping Extravaganza
page (featuring the "Tickle Me Mr. T doll"). All can
be reached from the main page (www.uidaho.edu/~kowa9693/). Kudos
go out to Monkey Boy not just for monumental effort, but for some
genuine humor as well.
Mr. T's "Be Somebody, or Be Sombody's Fool" Tribute
(www.geocities.com/~mtbsobsf/)--Last, but certainly not least,
we have what is perhaps the most reverential of T tribute sites.
This one is dedicated to Mr. T's inspirational/motivational video
for children, produced sometime in his heyday of the mid-1980s.
The point, says this site's creator, is to prove that "beneath
the gruff exterior of a fighter lies the soul of a poet, caregiver
and protector." There are scene-by-scene descriptions of
the entire video and plenty of sound clips (contained in handy
.wav files). T tackles such hardcore issues as shyness, peer pressure
and frustration, and there's even one provocatively titled section
called "Treat Your Mother Right." Did I mention the
--Devin D. O'Leary