The Shrubbery
August 1999
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Adventures in Maturity

by Gordon Dymowski

You know, I used to be disgusted, but now, I try to be amused....

Recently, I was reading the entertainment news (right after I watched several hours of C-SPAN - Honest!), and I came across an item announcing that Arnold Schwartzenegger was going to play Doc Savage. Yes, he would take on the role of "surgeon turned superhero" who would "avenge" the death of his father. The item (spread throughout several news agencies) also indicated that this was based on the writings of "Lester Dent"). This is one of those stories I hope and pray is a hoax, because if it isn't, one of my cherished heroes of childhood (along with John Steed of The Avengers and Doctor Who) is gonna get tarnished. Big time.

At this point, you're probably wondering what the flying burrito I'm talking about, so I'll provide a little bit of a historical context. (More information can be gained at The 86th Floor, which is the best Doc Savage site.) Anyway, Doc Savage was the first real superhero - he first appeared in 1933, and his adventures sold monthly until the series was canceled in 1949. (The only modern equivalent we have are those oh-so-cheesy paperbacks like The Executioner, as well as lame Star Trek novels.) With his five aides, he went around the world, and fought evil, and discovered lost worlds, and all sorts of cool stuff. Heck, without Doc, most of our current pop culture - including Superman, Batman, James Bond, heck, even Mr. Spock - would never have come to exist. Yes, folks, he's that archetypal...and very few people have heard of - or remember - him.

I gotta admit, the big guy means a lot to me - after first reading his adventures when I was nine years old, he kind of formed what a "real man" is for me. (Hey, some kids had athletes, I had fictional characters. Go figure.) As an overweight, slightly geeky kid, I knew that dreams of being a physical dynamo were way outside the realm of possibility for me. However, here was a guy who not only had a great physique, but also had the intelligence to back it up. Heck, he even had an oath, which ended with the words, "Let me do right to all and wrong no man." (He was from the 1930's you know...they weren't politically correct back then). Let's face it, here was a guy who never carried a gun, who rarely (if ever) resorted to is the second most ideal role model (next to Jesus Christ, of course)....and he's going to be portrayed by a man whose idea of "multidimensional characterization" is making a lamely written wisecrack and shooting off several rounds of ammo at the same time...

Actually, I'm not at all surprised Ah-nuld (whom calling one dimensional is giving him one dimension too many) has been hired, and not because he's a "certified" block buster hit. If there's one thing we can say about the culture of the 90s, it's...recycled from the pop culture of the past. We're also the most cynical culture that's ever existed. Let's face it, I doubt we've had any true piece of originality since Terry Gilliam's Brazil...or was it that 1984 Apple Computer ad? Anyway, we're losing our potential for real idealism, and are settling for a hell of a lot less. I mean, let's face it, if Hollywood made a movie about the life of Christ, it would star Adam Sandler, and his big line would be, "Here's my it raw, you moron."

It's enough to make me wanna move to Canada, or something.

Well, hey, maybe I can't do that, but I can (at the very least) keep an open mind about the film (if it ever gets made...I'm still waiting for Caddyshack 3 Meets Predator. I can scope out the used book stores and garage sales for tomes by Lester Dent's nom de plume, Kenneth Robeson. (Yeah, I spoke French, so what?) And living by the Doc Savage philosophy...after all, how hard can that be?

And, as always, feel free to e-mail me your thoughts, comments, questions, and other stuff to I dig getting e-mail - it makes my day. If you read my Python piece this month, you'll know that I actually do take requests. So e-mail away! Or something.

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