View Single Post
Old June 12 2012, 02:00 PM   #117
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: 60s Batman show rights issues resolved!

Frontier wrote: View Post
If there was some redeeming quality about that old show, something akin to how the Original Trek had a good ethical message or some such, I'd be much more accepting of it.

The fact of the matter is though, it's a cheese festival of nonsense. The only argument in it's favor is from the point of view of childhood nostalgia.
It was an absurdist situation comedy. Of course it was nonsense -- that was the whole idea. Would you ask for a deep, profound ethical message from a Marx Brothers or Mel Brooks movie? You're judging it by the wrong standards.

As as sitcom, which is what it was, it has many redeeming qualities. It was fresh and funny, one of the most innovative entries in an era of experimental, absurdist sitcoms. It was a landmark of design, widely praised for its psychedelic, pop-art sensibilities. It had a strong, funny cast and (in the first two seasons) excellent production values. It had awesome music. It was loaded with cultural in-jokes and satire that are probably lost on viewers unfamiliar with the 1960s, although a lot of the satire is timeless, like the bitingly cynical view of political campaigns in "Hizzoner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin" or of the art world in "Pop Goes the Joker/Flop Goes the Joker."


Yes, Batman may have been campy in the comics for a long time. But such was due to the society in which comics had to be published, not due to design. You couldn't have a dark and gritty comic in the 50s. Or on TV in the 60s.
First off, that's a commonly held myth, that the comics remained dark and gritty until they were forced to change by the Comics Code. But that's simply not true. Batman started out as a violent pulp character, but they lightened him up as soon as they introduced Robin a year later, all of which was done to make the comics more accessible for children.

Second, what the hell is wrong with doing comedy? It's not a bad thing to be funny. They are called comic books, after all, a word that literally means "pertaining to comedy." The first comic strips and books were called that because they were comedy-oriented; it was only subsequently that the genre broadened to include serious adventure, but humor has always, always been part of it. So it's pretentious ridiculousness to complain about the presence of comedy in a genre that has the word "comic" in its name.


The characters origins speak for themselves. A child orphaned at the age of 8-to-10 by a lone gunmen who robs and shoots his parents right in front of him, who grows up to pursue justice and, frankly, vengeance. That isn't light hearted. It simply couldn't be done justice for a long time.
There's more to any character than where he comes from. Superman's origin is very dark -- the destruction of his entire civilization -- but he's historically been a bright, upbeat character and often been approached light-heartedly. Spider-Man has a profound tragedy and personal guilt motivating his superheroics, but he's one of the funniest characters in comics.

And no, Batman is not about vengeance. That's a common but fundamental misconception. If he were just about vengeance, he would've killed Joe Chill and retired. But he's not. What motivates Batman isn't getting back at anyone; what motivates him is protecting innocent people from having to suffer the way he suffered. Like Spider-Man, his past tragedy inspires him to do everything in his power to spare others from similar tragedies. But while Spider-Man is motivated by a sense of guilt and responsibility -- not letting anyone else die when he has the power to prevent it -- Batman is motivated by overcoming the feelings of helplessness he had that night in Crime Alley -- making sure he's never again too weak to stand up and protect innocent people from crime.

So while, yes, you can interpret Batman in a way that focuses on his darker emotions and pain and obsession, you can equally well interpret him in a way that focuses more on the nobility of his mission to combat crime and protect the innocent. What matters most about Batman isn't that his parents died; what matters most is what he became because of that event, which is the world's greatest detective and most dedicated, unwavering champion of justice. He's the ultimate hero, even without superpowers, because of his all-powerful convictions and determination to do the right thing, and because he has the intelligence and resources to fulfill that determination. And so it's perfectly valid to do an interpretation of Batman that focuses on his heroism, goodness, dedication, and resourcefulness without dwelling much on the past event that catalyzed them. It's just a shift of emphasis. Different iterations of the same fictional premise should have different emphases and develop different facets of its potential. If they were all exactly like one another, that would be boring and pointless.


Every argument in favor of the campy Batman, or the campy Galactica, or anything else campy for that matter, is based wholly in childhood nostalgia. In recapturing the wonder of something enjoyed as a kid.
That's bull. I appreciate the '66 series even more as an adult than I did as a child, because I'm able to see the aspects of it that flew right over my head when I was a kid. As a child, you take the show at face value as a thrilling adventure series, but as an adult -- if you're smart and open-minded enough to look at it fairly -- you can see the adult levels of humor in it, the satire and sexual innuendo and '60s cultural references. And you can appreciate the good writing (when it was good) and the strong performances and the lavish production design and the wonderful, wonderful jazz music of Nelson Riddle.

And believe me, brother, you cannot truly experience the wonders of Julie Newmar and Yvonne Craig in catsuits until you reach puberty. Ain't no childhood nostalgia there nohow.

If anything, you're the one whose judgment is constrained by nostalgia, because you're unwilling to open your mind to a version of Batman different from the one you learned to enjoy.


Not in a logical or reasonable argument of "campy is superior because A, B and C" or so forth.
Not superior, just also valid. There's room for multiple styles of storytelling in the world. Different isn't better or worse, it's just different.


The only time camp is good is when you're a small kid and can't handle reality as well.
You really don't understand what camp means at all. Children can't recognize camp, because they can only perceive it at face value. It takes more maturity and experience to recognize the ironic, allusive, and deconstructionist underpinnings of camp. Camp is about making a satirical commentary on something unrealistic by exaggerating its contrasts with reality and sense. So you've got it completely backward.


But at least admit, it's a pale watered-down imitation of the character that existed because corporate big-wigs didn't think people, especially kids, where sophisticated or smart enough to deal with actual drama or any sense of reality.
I won't "admit" a falsehood based in ignorance. What it is, in fact, is a very faithful adaptation of what Batman had been in the comics for decades at the time the show was made: an adventure-comedy about characters living in an absurd world of bizarre, flamboyant criminals and reacting to it as serious, life-or-death business. What it is, in fact, is a stylistically bold, innovatively formatted situation comedy whose impact on popular culture was considerable and well worth acknowledging. What it is, in fact, is something that can be legitimately enjoyed by people who are sophisticated and smart enough to deal with comedy, satire, and absurdism rather than pretentiously dismissing them as inferior.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is online now   Reply With Quote