Rest in Peace, Adam West
The heroes of my childhood were black and white. Well, they were. We did not get a color TV in my home until I was in 7th or 8th Grade. As a child of the 1960s, I watched Batman and Robin, with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was a campy good versus evil, solving the crisis that befell Gotham in thirty minutes or less accounting for the commercials. What I didn’t know at the time was the “BIF, ZONK, POW” hero of comic books had some very established actors: Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Julie Newmar as the Catwoman, Caesar Romero as the Joker, Victor Buono as King Tut and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. And that Batmobile! I saw it once at a car show, and it was as cool sitting there as it was as a prop on the show.
In those days, while the Vietnam war was on the NBC Nightly News ( Huntley-Brinkley) and my dad was focused on the stock market with Louis Rukeyser, I was in a different world of heroes. Astronauts who risked everything to venture to space and then the Moon were my rock stars. I became a fan of the super-secret Government spies who kicked butt and had great gadgets to defeat the world’s most dangerous baddies. In my formative years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, I was a fan of Star Trek (in its first decade of syndication); William Shatner’s Kirk always knocked down, but rose to defeat the bad guy, saved the universe, got the alien girl, and only lost one or two red-shirt (enlisted) men in the process.
All the James Bond movies were so cool – a sophisticated spy that every bad guy already knew was 007, walked confidently into their lair, got captured, escaped and destroyed the plot to take over the world. And hooked up with the sexy girl. However, as a kid, I was enraptured with the gadgets; as a teen, I thought the girl with the provocative name was attractive. Thirty years later, with Roger Moore dead and spy agencies revealed as often corrupt political entities, I changed my focus on the military men and women as heroes. Besides, even the latest Batman, Superman, and Avengers movies would not be nearly as entertaining without the CGI.
The early movies, like the TV shows of the 60s and 70s were subtle with violence, explosions and sex; by the turn of the 21st Century however, every show and film, drops the F-bomb routinely, Sex or at minimum, nudity, are included in every action and superhero movie, and there are always ominous portents of whatever the political winds blow – sexual identity, climate change, evil Presidents, or more often than not, corrupt Americans.
Adam West would not have stood for that. His nemesis was always someone he tried to salvage, from Catwoman to King Tut. Violence was always blanked by a cartoon ZONK! in his show. Holy sepulcre, Batman! We will miss you.