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Monday, June 12, 2017

PEOPLE: On the Subject of Adam West


There are some people I feel confident in eulogizing on because I was a massive fan, charted their careers, had something in common with them, or what have you. I was a fan of Adam West because it's difficult not to be. He became very much a part of America's culture, not just by being Batman but by being him. I never followed his full career assiduously, and I never met him, so I could never properly eulogize.

But I did think about him a lot in recent years. About the form his work took, and the fact that he was still so much a part of the zeitgeist even though "our" Batman in the 21st century tends to be extremely far removed from West's.

(For what it's worth, "my" Batman was Kevin Conroy since I was a WB kid when it came to after-school viewing. But I've always liked Batman in pretty much any form, and I did watch and love the original live-action series.)

For me, though, there was a character West played that I loved him for on every occasion: himself.


Theoretically The Fairly OddParents should be after my time, but it was always on first thing in the morning when I used to go to an office job, so I'd put it on as I was getting dressed and I got ridiculous amounts of enjoyment out of it. The cameos were a huge part of that, with especial focus on Adam West as himself (and his alter ego, Catman). There was something about the fact that he happily played a caricature of himself, repeatedly, and made reference repeatedly to a time in his career that many older actors would wish they could move past.

Of course, he did similar in Family Guy, a show I fell off pretty much as quickly as I fell on. West in fact proved to be one of the few things I never stopped liking about the show, even after personally losing interest in it as a whole. He threw his whole damn heart and soul into being Quahog's affably nutty (or potentially senile) Mayor West.

And no, that's not me missing out on things like The Simpsons or Johnny Bravo or other cameos. But these are the two that stuck out for me. Because despite them being two different shows for two VERY different demographics, there was a sort of connection there. He happily played along with the stereotype of himself, and we all laughed along, knowing full well it wasn't true but sort of feeling it.


And I think, despite all the Batman-themed cartoons (which he would have loved) and people pulling out their Batman memories (which he would also have loved), what makes me happiest is looking back and seeing that the last big arc of his career and seeing that he was most famous, and most beloved, for being himself at the end.

That's not a thing many people can say completely honestly in this industry.

Others have spoken far more eloquently of the man, his career, his impact on genre television. Makes me glad that's not a hole that needs filling in the blogosphere because I really couldn't. I just know that when it's my time to go, I hope that I am as carefree and silly about my identity as he was, and that I am loved even an iota as much as he is.