“Mama, take these guns off of me. I don’t need them anymore. It’s getting dark, too dark to see”.
This line by Bob Dylan from “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” was playing in my head while staring at the photo below taken in 1967 of actor Adam West as Batman appearing in a road safety campaign for children- “creepy” to some, but that’s probably the cynic of adulthood talking.
Of course, this wasn’t the dark, complex Batman that has emerged in recent years. This was Adam West as the campy Batman some of us first saw as a comic book inspired television series with over-the-top villains played with relish and plenty of ham by Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman.
Batman and the boy wonder Robin were played for laughs and campy kitsch or kitschy kitschy yahs yahs when the world was full of “sunshiney” days and singing how we could see clearly now.
Then the darkness descended and was allowed in.
Though interested in and getting lost in the introduction of a new Batman battling inner demons, and Heath Ledger and later Joachim Phoenix’s disturbing portrayals of a deranged Joker, it does make one think how these films-despite some being brilliant films- have or are affecting fragile minds.
Could, especially those too young to know, be growing up thinking that violence and madness is part of everyday life? Real life has a history of impersonating art.
Look, I understand and appreciate art and believe in pushing boundaries in order to see where things could lead.
But, today as a father, and, perhaps, for the first time, truly understanding this role and also how to be a better human being without turning into a Hallmark greeting card on Facebook, it takes me back to those days when Adam West was Batman, there were other television series like “Get Smart” and when we laughed at the bad guys.
Everything from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Bonanza” to “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” was enjoyable family entertainment with the emphasis on the word “family”.
How many of us wanted to meet and settle down with a lady like Mary Tyler Moore?
A few years later came other family entertainment television series like “The Wonder Years”, “Malcolm At 15”, “Happy Days” and Jim Henson’s game-changing Sesame Street.
Sesame Street introduced us to creativity and fun and a rainbow connection in the form of the Muppets.
The Muppets was diversity without having to be bashed over the head to be politically correct and which almost always creates a divisive and angry society.
A pretty much broken society is what we have today, and it would be an understatement to say that something, or many things, need fixing in the world we’re in.
No, Elon Musk can’t do the fixing. Only we can and this is by starting to work on ourselves and with less screen time for real time.
It’s about getting out there and meeting those with who we can exchange ideas and being open enough to share interests and life goals without feeling threatened.
It would be interesting to see if there’s any way that the evil genie who was allowed to escape can be put back into the bottle.
Perhaps from here we can start to offer everyone a more balanced view of the world and not something that’s so shallow that it needs to be held together by the “right” hashtags.
If we’re knocking on heaven’s door, we might as well start singing with the angels around us.
I know: Deep af.