Batmania Part 2: ‘Batman’ – The movie that changed my life

In June of 1989, my father had nothing but disdain for black t-shirts. I suspect it was because black t-shirts usually had silk screened heavy metal bands on them, and in the 80’s parents were very concerned that heavy metal music was full of evil influences that would whisk their children away to hell. (In hindsight, parents should have been more concerned that heavy metal was crappy than whether it was corrupting their kids.) But whatever his reasoning, black t-shirts were banned from our household.

I was eleven when I saw Batman on opening day on June 23, the 7:00 show at the Gateway Cinemas in Edmonton, Alberta. I saw it by myself because my best friend wanted to see UHF instead. We weren’t best friends much longer after that.

Batman was a revolution–it profoundly changed my life on so many levels.

It changed the way I saw movies. And what a movie! It violently jolted all prior conceptions of what I thought Batman was. Before Batman, I knew the Caped Crusader as a Saturday morning cartoon character who fought many a toothless battle with the SuperFriends. Burton’s Batman was dark! Violent! People actually died, Bruce Wayne actually slept with Vicki Vale, and the Joker wasn’t just a guy in makeup who couldn’t stop laughing; he was a sociopath. And the audience loved him! This wasn’t kid stuff.

I felt so grown up after seeing Batman; partly because it was a solo excursion, and partly because I became aware of what a movie is made of–production design, music, cinematography. Before Batman, movies were just something you watched on a big screen. After, I began to see movies as capable of producing art.

A few days later a local radio station had a contest open only to kids called “What Would You Do For A Bat-Pack?” The Bat-Pack was a compilation of amazingly awesome stuff: the official Batman souvenir magazine, a Batman keychain, the soundtrack by Prince (on cassette, no less!), and…

a black Batman t-shirt

I called in and improvised an entire play I called “Brat-man vs. Sausage Man” over the phone (The punchline: Brat-man gets chopped up by Sausage Man and is turned into brat-wurst. I used the can opener to be the aural record of Brat-man’s demise.) I won the contest, which thusly meant I won the forbidden black t-shirt.

So now I possessed what my father had fought so hard to keep away from his kids. I’d like to say that I was mentally prepared for him to take my prize away; after all, he did let me buy a similarly-designed white t-shirt with the Batman logo. But it wasn’t the same. The black one was far cooler. And if my father was going to require the forfeiture of my newly-won tee, I was going to fight him, kicking and screaming if needs be (thus negating any feelings of grown-uppiness the movie itself had invoked).

Much to my surprise (yet secret desire), my dad let me keep the shirt, which meant the ban was lifted for all his kids. I don’t know his reasoning for letting me keep the shirt. I suspect he sensed more ominous battles ahead and had to learn to let go of the ones that really didn’t matter. And I suspect that the goal of every parent is to find that balance.

I presume it’s a logical fallacy to say that Batman made my dad a better parent. But it was–and is–the movie that changed my life on so many levels.

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4 Responses to “Batmania Part 2: ‘Batman’ – The movie that changed my life”

  1. Shayla Says:

    Scott-

    What a great story. Thank you for opening up your childhood to us. I am glad it had such a profound impact on your life, because you won’t be the same Scott we all know and love today! Go BATMAN!!

    Shay-L-A

  2. Batmania Part 3: ‘Batman’ - My biased, biased review « yikbo: mostly movies Says:

    […] yikbo: mostly movies Film & DVD Reviews, Opinion and Whatnot. Bookmark this page! « Batmania Part 2: ‘Batman’ – The movie that changed my life […]

  3. Sarah Says:

    I’m wearing a black t-shirt right now…and it’s all thanks to you. [wipes away tear]

  4. Batmania Part 7: ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’ « yikbo: mostly movies Says:

    […] up to The Dark Knight which opens in theaters this weekend.  But then I wrote a short essay on how the 1989 Batman film changed my life, and so I decided to broaden Batmania to include other things related […]

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