On Adam West

Back before I moved to this side of Murfreesboro, I lived in a little blue house. Every day, when I would come home from school, I would get a peanut butter sandwich and watch the 1966 version of Batman. That was Adam West. In the cartoons and shows I watched growing up, from Fairly Odd Parents to Goosebumps, I saw Adam West play the hero.

He was my favorite character in Family Guy and managed to do so without a single Batman reference. He was the Gray Ghost, the hero that inspired Kevin Conroy’s Batman. He played Thomas Wayne for Diedrich Bader’s Batman. Adam West was a kind-hearted man who could take a joke. He loved being lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and reveled in camp.

I am filled with sorrow at his passing. He was everywhere in my life and his work will live on, but he will be so tremendously missed. Adam West represented the Silver Age of Batman. An age where light heartedness and justice could be one and the same. Adam West was so much more than that though, but he thrived in it regardless.

Thank you. Thank you for always being you and not forcing yourself to change. Thank you for always bringing a smile to my face. Thank you for introducing me to Batman. Thank you for everything.

I will miss you.

Advertisements

Alone in the Theater

I am a part of a generation that sees going to the movies as a very social event. One night out with friends or a significant other to see a movie is the most basic way to spend a night with people my age.

 

I love movies. I love seeing movies. I love hanging out too, so I have traditionally delayed seeing something in theaters until I had at least one other person to go see it with. In my Freshman year of college, when I was in a relationship and all my friends had the same schedule as me I saw a new movie every week. I saw everything I wanted to see in theaters during that time. The good, the bad, and the ugly (Looking at you The Identical) were all seen by me and my gaggle of pals.

Then things changed. The relationship ended, some friendships faded, and schedules changed. Suddenly going to see movies with my friends went from a weekly thing to maybe once every few months. A part of my life basically disintegrated and I didn’t realize until recently.

Now, I have always been a big proponent of doing things by yourself.  It is very easy for someone who has a girlfriend and sees their friends everyday to say things like, “You can always do things by yourself”, “Being alone doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun”, or “You don’t need friends/a significant other to treat yourself”. When all of that stopped I felt like I had to eat my own words.

I didn’t do things by myself. I couldn’t do things by myself. Isolation put chains around me and the idea of having fun with no one else around became myth. Something I could entertain in my thoughts, but could never aspire to reach.

Then the story, as a tragic number of stories do, took a darker turn. My depression got worse, my anxiety attacks became more frequent, and my bipolar disorder swung harder. It became difficult to even go to bed without suffering from some sort of attack. And I continued to do nothing different in my life. I kept the same habits, I kept the same everything. So, I kept the same conditions.

Then something in me, as many things have, broke. Guardians of the Galaxy VOL. 2 came out. It wasn’t like I was counting down the days to this movie. I’d only seen the original in theaters once and haven’t seen it since. I asked the usual group of people and they had plans with other people to see it, I asked another group and they had already seen it, I finally asked people I had never seen a movie with and I was met with either no response or something that the first two groups had given me. I went to see it by myself. I bought my ticket and drink. Sat my lonely ass down in a theater seat and watched Chris Pratt fight Kurt Russell.

Then, a week later, I saw it again with one of my closest friends.

Last night, I asked less people if they wanted to see Wonder Woman and all of them had their reasons not to. So I went to see it alone. Earlier that day I asked my friend and former film teacher how often he sees movies by himself and it gave me a resolve not to make myself wait so much anymore. I don’t need other people to do what I want and seeing movies by myself is the first step to doing many other things.

John Hurt

On John Hurt

By Jeffrey Fiene

 

The first film I saw with John Hurt in it was Ridley Scott’s terrifying Alien. He played the poor sap who gets the egg laid in his chest. The scene everyone knows from the movie. The chestburster scene. It terrified people for decades. Because he sold it. His talent was so massive that the audience, any audience, believed that an alien parasite was burrowing its way through his body. He did such a good job that when Mel Brooks made Spaceballs he repeated the action of dying for a gag. That was who John Hurt was. He took his work seriously in every way one can. He never saw himself so importantly that he couldn’t joke. He was truly multifaceted.

The next film I saw him in was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. He played Olivander and gave Harry his first wand. He would later reprise this role as well, after a decade of being absent from the franchise, and flawlessly ease back into a minor part as if he had been playing it every day for every year since his first lines.

He could play contradictions as well. Winston Smith in 1984 was the direct antithesis of his character in V for Vendetta. He lent his voice to Watership Down and the incomparable Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings animated feature.

The role that cemented him as my idol though wasn’t Elephant Man or Caligula or, my own personal guilty pleasure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He played the War Doctor in Doctor Who. For the fiftieth anniversary, they created an incarnation of the main character that was so complex and dark that he was locked away in the Doctor’s psyche. A character that had no full backstory aside from the occasional cryptic mentions of the Last Great Time War. A version of the Doctor that did the most terrible thing the Doctor ever did. The character was created to give the anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, an inside look at the Doctor’s secret shame. John Hurt, in the span of seventy some odd minutes, the shortest amount of time an actor has ever been given to have a begging an end to his time as the Doctor, established a full-fledged and entirely believable answer to the question of what the Doctor’s secret shame is.

The War Doctor was given the chance to see what would become of him. The War Doctor saw atrocity after atrocity, even some committed by him. The War Doctor could bounce from utter despondency to joy in such subtle ways. This is due to John Hurt. He incredibly gave this performance far more than any other actor coming into that role could. A man who acted for the sake of acting. A man who stood with giants and could have any role he wanted. He gave it his all. He gave every role his all.

If I can have a quarter of the body of work he had when I die, then I will pass satisfied.

Thank you for everything.

Carrie Fisher: More Than A Princess

carriefisher

I almost wrote this a few days ago, but decided to hold out hope. Carrie Fisher always inspired that in me.

There will be thousands of tributes from all over the world, but the following will be what I saw her as.

To me, first and foremost, Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia. Is Princess Leia. Leia was the first strong female character I ever saw and she set an extraordinary precedent. She could fend for herself, was incredibly resolute in the face of catastrophe, and was a capable leader. These qualities could also be found in Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher struggled with addiction, something I have no experience with, but she also struggled with mental illness, something I’ve spent the last few years dealing with. She fought against stereotypes. Her beliefs and actions were a testament to her unwavering character.

Beyond the crush I developed by watching Princess Leia on Yavin, Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor, I developed something else that I had only reserved for my mother and grandmother at the time. I respected Leia. She was the cornerstone that I built my respect towards the opposite sex on and continues to be that.

Her legacy will continue with us. I was going to see Rogue One with my family. I got the news right before the showing. Spoilers: The movie ends with Princess Leia saying the word ‘hope’.

2016 has taken many idols and heroes. There are precious few hours left for us to do something worthwhile this year. The close it with love. To close the year with hope.

We have to fight for it. We have to fight against the standard the year has tried to set.

We have to rebel. In honor of the Princess who was truly a Queen.

Rest in Peace and May the Force be with You