Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I'll miss you, Adam West.

*This is a commentary from guest writer Kelly C. on the passing of legendary Batman actor Adam West*

So, Adam West died a couple of weeks ago. I cried when I initially read the news, and I cried again every time I saw another article about it, or every time a friend texted to ask how I was doing. (What can I say, my love of Adam West and affirmation of him as the one true Batman is fairly well known.) Basically, I cried a lot, and I felt ridiculous for doing so. I mean, why should it matter to me, really? Which led me to wonder, why do we get so upset about the deaths of celebrities anyway? The vast majority of us can’t claim to have known them as actual humans beings, we only know them as an image, usually one they have created. Even celebrities that are very open with the public have at least some part of their life that remains behind closed doors. I can say that I had the pleasure of meeting Adam West at a comic-con once, along with countless other fans that weekend. That doesn’t mean that I can claim that he was a friend, or an acquaintance, or even a friend of a friend of a friend. So why do I care?

The answer, I think is simple. I don’t feel like I’m blowing the lid off of any huge secret by writing about it, it’s just something I realized during my day-long Batman marathon. We don’t mourn a celebrity because of who they were. We mourn them because of who they were to us. We’re sad because we remember how they made us feel or what they meant to us. Maybe we even saw a little of ourselves in them or vice versa. And when they’re gone, that’s gone.

Take Carrie Fisher as an example. When she died last year, it was a blow to fans everywhere. And there are a thousand reasons why. Her very open struggles and advocacy for mental health made her a relatable figure for innumerable people. But she’s best known, of course, as Leia. What she accomplished in Star Wars was to give a face to a role that represented strength and independence while still being feminine. She taught women over the past 40 years that a princess doesn’t have to relegate herself to being a damsel in distress, that instead a princess can take matters into her own hands and shape her own future. It was a defining role that showed that a female can do or be anything. People remembered her for those achievements and the fact that she empowered multiple generations, not so much for who she was in day to day life. With any kind of fandom, that’s how it is.

So after all that, why am I sad about Adam West? Well, here’s what he meant to me. I remember watching Batman with my uncles during the summer months in New York and being absolutely fascinated. It was as much a bonding experience with them as it was entertainment. Adam West was so confident and serious, it’s easy to believe that he had no idea how campy the entire show was, and that’s just part of what made it so much FUN! To this day I can put on an episode of the series, laugh just as hard as the first time, and probably spot some new gag as well. It’s hard to explain how much Batman was a part of my childhood. I also remember when I found out that an entire Batman universe existed outside of that show…and how little I cared about that. Adam West was Batman, pure and simple. Every role he took on for the rest of his years had a touch of the same insanity that he brought to the show, all the way up to the Mayor of Quahog. (It’s my personal belief that he may actually have been just a touch insane, but since we weren’t friends, I’ll never know.)

 I have plenty of memories and all the places they take me back to, but their creator is gone. And for that reason, I cried. It’s been a couple of weeks, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch more Batman now.

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