Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Teddy Roosevelt Movie Ideas, Plus Babylon 5 and Nietzsche

dracula.jpg jolie.jpgsuperman-cover.gif

In yesterday’s Retro-Journal entry, I mentioned McCain liking Teddy Roosevelt. TR was also a factor in my recent book review for New York Post of Panama Fever. And I think both TR and the fading Hillary Clinton were called socialists, which sounds about right to me, by Bill O’Reilly after HRC likened herself to TR during her recent appearance on O’Reilly’s show.

(As I’ve been telling co-workers at ACSH this week, with some half-million people dead in Burma, it’s worth reminding people at every possible opportunity that socialist inefficiency shortens and ends lives, on top of the 150 million or so that socialist movements have murdered outright. Don’t expect me to treat the next socialist hippie chick I meet with the deference due someone who possesses the moral high ground — though Burma could certainly use some high ground right about now.)

Three Teddy Roosevelt Movie Ideas

•But all this reminds me of my TR movie idea (as copyrighted as all the other text on this site, you thieving Hollywood bastards): We know writers sometimes accompanied TR on his occasional nighttime walks around New York City when he was police commissioner — including a writer named Bram Stoker. So: what if it was one fateful patrol in which TR battled vampires that inspired Dracula? It could all end with the two heroes battling vampire prostitutes (the late-nineteenth-century analogue of socialist hippie chicks) atop the Flatiron Building. The poster slogan: “Walk softly and carry a sharp wooden stake.”

•By contrast, the poster copy for any movie about his role in Panama should of course be the world’s best-known lengthy palindrome: “A man. A plan. A canal. Panama” (and the tragic postscript text should note that instead of tens of thousands dying from malaria during the Canal’s construction, it would have been great if they’d had DDT back then — something we could use in NYC today to stop a bourgeoning bed bug invasion and could have used to nip the sometimes-fatal West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes, in the bud back before it spread across the nation, were greens not paranoid about pesticides — again, that hypothetical hippie chick’s a conspirator in mass murder at least twice over in my eyes, but I politely smile when I get called the heartless one).

•The reason that I’m not sure I can in good conscience write the TR/Stoker vs. vampires movie, though, is that real life, as is often the case, proves more interesting than the simplistic narratives of a fiction-maker: Apparently, it turns out (based on my minimal Googling), Bram Stoker actually was inspired to write Dracula by his brief time visiting TR’s Long Island social circle — but not by NYC street crime. Rather, Stoker saw overtly “decadent” (by the standards of the day) writer Walt Whitman as a part of a rising gay threat to civilization — even though he remained friends with Whitman and corresponded with him across the ocean. Whitman = Dracula, and TR’s Dutch uncle, fascinated by science (and a New York politician in his own right), is thought to have inspired the elderly scientist character Van Helsing, who battles Dracula. In real life, TR’s son Archibald apparently started a conservative secret society intended to discourage Wilde-era sexual decadence and homosexuality. How can I reduce such fascinating historical currents to mere vampire fights? A sophisticated, two-tiered indie film is called for, which may cut into the profit margins a bit.

Babylon Shrugged

Another movie thought with political implications: I loved the 90s sci-fi series Babylon 5, with its epic, ominous, slow-building, five-year story arc about Order-loving and Chaos-loving aliens warring across the galaxy, with plucky, independent humans stuck in the middle (not to be confused with the hyper-ambitious historical play Babylon Babylon featuring a cast of dozens including Michele Carlo and a fake lion, of which I’ll catch the final performance tonight). However, I didn’t expect to see B5’s creator, J. Michael Straczynski, working with the likes of Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie. Nonetheless, he has written a movie called The Changeling, directed by Eastwood, starring Jolie, opening at Cannes, and telling the story of a mother who prays for her son’s safe return and then begins to suspect that the being returned to her is not her son after all.

And imagine what a syzygy of geek forces would be achieved if those three did the Atlas Shrugged movie — Dagny Taggart fan Jolie, libertarian ex-mayor Eastwood, and JMS with his rugged-individualist and anti-authoritarian themes. JMS is reportedly a disgruntled former cult member and took the Vorlon and Shadow greetings, “Who are you?” and “What do you want?”, from one of the cult’s aggressive interview rituals.

Then, if only the keepers of Rand’s intellectual estate were open-minded enough to let JMS, who has written Spider-Man and other comics, write some Babylon 5/Atlas Shrugged crossover comics…but now I’m committing fan fiction. (Who Is Kosh? Thus Spake Zathras…)

Speaking of Nietzsche

As I await the May 28 release of the climactic DC comic Final Crisis written by Grant Morrison, I see that he did a story in his All Star Superman series in which Superman created Earth-Q, meant to be Supermanless, yet ultimately yielding a philosopher named Nietzsche whose “superman” ideal in turns inspires a cartoonist named Joe Shuster — and Superman lives again, albeit as fiction…not to be confused with the real Superman…


dave said...

All I know is if you combine a tv show with a 5 year arc with atlas shrugged it’ll make the Star Wars series look like a single episode of the 1930s Flash Gordon seriel. Longest movie ever.

T.A.B. said...

The TR/Stoker/Dracula storyline actually sounds like a good Doctor Who episode.