Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Batman vs. Hong Kong -- and Paul vs. Keyes


(This isn’t comic book news, mind you — it’s movie news.)

Batman is having a rough time, according to the movie-news site DarkHorizons:

–Hong Kong, the one location outside Gotham where parts of Batman: Dark Knight take place, is being slower to grant filming permits to the filmmakers than expected (perhaps they heard about someone dying recently during the shooting of a Batmobile scene).

–Batman, usually depicted as being as omnicompetent as James Bond, will be the screw-up who accidentally unleashes a sentient, malevolent spy satellite and hero-hunting robots on the world in another superheroic movie due out in the next couple years, Justice League (which will apparently feature all of the Big Seven except Aquaman, for those keeping score). That means the 2005 comic book miniseries The OMAC Project, written by Greg Rucka, is the model for the plot (and I pity the filmmakers if they tried to follow where the original comic plot went next, since the universe blew up, fifty-two new ones were created, history was revised, and things got a lot more complicated than you’d ever want in a movie script).

Since Rucka’s lesbian cop character Renee Montoya is slated to appear in Batman: Dark Knight — and a movie based on his crime comic book White Out is due out next year — Rucka is well on his way to being the latest comics-to-film hotshot, a la David Goyer or Frank Miller. (And then I can say I met Rucka back when he was just a writer of crime thriller novels that repeatedly featured murder victims based on my friend Scott Nybakken, for good or ill. Scott used to be a museum security guard, for example — and was familiar with the museum blueprints — so how could you resist offing him in fiction, even if you were a nicer person than Rucka?)

It would be pleasing to see Hong Kong welcome Batman with open arms after the way Batman contributed to Hong Kong commerce ten years ago when I was there: I visited during the week of transition back to rule by Beijing (after decades of robust, glorious, prosperous, free-market, non-democratic liberty under British rule) in 1997 with a tour group organized by the Claremont Institute, and as souvenirs I brought back about four Batman action figures to give to a few of my nerdy friends.

One still sits atop my bookshelf, and it bears this interesting, subversive text on the back:

This special, timeless and limited 1997 Hong Kong Edition Golden Batman figure commemorates the spirit of Hong Kong, who’s [sic] unparalleled rise to international fame and recognition echoes the dynamism of Gotham City, a territory Batman has sworn to watch over and defend.

Amen, Batman. Amen. Would that you could be in Beijing as well, perhaps rescuing athletes who collapse from communist air pollution at the 2008 Olympics.


Speaking of freedom-fighers, Bretigne Shaffer Calvert (who was living in Hong Kong at the time of my visit, come to think of it) informs me that Ron Paul will be among the few GOP candidates attending tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) 8-9pm Eastern PBS forum on issues affecting black voters, which sounds interesting — though I’ll be at a event about socialized vs. privatized medicine.

You can listen to the PBS forum on Ron Paul Radio, which I was on once — or, if you don’t have time for that, you can watch this video of a scantily-clad woman praising Ron Paul, sent to me by CuddleParty co-director Marcia Baczynski (CuddleParty was mocked on Saturday Night Live recently, by the way, their news anchor saying that the original name for clusters of New York strangers touching each other was “the subway”). The video seems like a good outreach idea, or at least more effective than confronting National Review staffers with 9/11 conspiracy theories in the name of the Paul campaign (albeit in a non-official capacity) — not the way to win over the neocons.

I notice that a familiar face who’ll also be at that PBS forum has now entered the GOP prez contest — Alan Keyes, the wacko who lost badly to Obama, putting the latter in the Senate in the first place (and who perhaps dreams of a rematch at the presidential level). Three strange and interesting things about Keyes:

1. He wouldn’t have been running against Obama in the first place if it hadn’t been for Star Trek: Voyager’s Borg hottie, Jeri Ryan, whose sex-club escapades with her Republican House-member ex-husband, after being revealed in their divorce proceedings, embarrassed him into dropping out of the race — though being a Republican married to Seven of Nine and talking her into kinky public sex pretty much made the man a god in my eyes, which is probably evidence I’m not the median GOP voter.

2. Keyes, far from being the public-sex-with-cyborgs kind of guy that the GOP needs, cut off contact with his daughter when she came out as a lesbian while an undergrad at Brown University, which is very lame of him (Brown also happens to be where Marcia Baczynski’s CuddleParty co-manager, Reid Mihalko, went, so there’s something about that place).

3. I actually wrote a fairly pro-Keyes article for New York Press a decade ago, before his reputation for nuttiness had really been cemented, and I will always remember the condescending but amusing caption the Press put on the cartoon accompanying my piece, which was meant to summarize the whole “fusionist” effort to combine fiscal and moral/social conservatism: “Gummint up, morals down!” I can’t pretend there’s a lot more to be said about it than that, really.

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