Monday, June 18, 2012

Whoa, Father's Day!

I completely forgot about Father's Day this weekend. Whoops, silly me! To me it was just another Sunday, and I ended up doing the usual Sunday things I do. Writing, playing video games (Assassin's Creed 2), running 4 miles, and eventually settling down at night to watch tv with the wife. You know, your average restful Sunday.

I've always been ambivalent about Father's Day. On the one hand, I've never had what one would call a "father." My real father was never around, and my stepdad ended up taking our mother from us at an early age. On the other hand, for when it mattered most, I only had the women of my mother's family to raise me. They made me who I am, without any influence from a real male authoritative figure in my life. So I celebrate these women on Mother's Day -- but Father's Day is a complete non-issue in my household. My wife doesn't have any connection with her father, either. Never has. So you can see now why the day is so easily forgotten in our house. It really is!

Yet in the spirit of things I want to dredge up from the early days of this blog a post I'd written once about the only father figures I've ever really known -- and all of them from television! So below, reposted in its full form in honor of Father's Day, is the blog post titled: "My Three Dads." Some of you may remember this one. Okay, maybe only one or two of you. This was almost four years ago, after all. Many of you didn't even know me then! But still . . .

Enjoy!
====================================================

MY THREE DADS. (Originally posted: 9/2/08.)


Okay, I know it sounds silly, but I have a confession to make: I was raised by television.

Of course in actuality I was raised first by my mother, and then by my maternal grandmother and aunt, but television always played an integral role in my childhood. So much so that I have nothing but fond affection for the "boob tube" today. And, you know, there was never that male adult figure in my life to teach me the things that many little boys learn from their fathers: specifically, how to be a man. I was surrounded by women growing up, after all. And while it's true that I learned a great deal from these strong, independent female family members, I had to turn to tv in order to get the paternal influence that was missing from my existence. In essence, I had to learn how to become an honest man, a fighter, a good husband and/or father, and how to treat a woman the way a good man should -- all from the tube!

Now, I'm only being half serious here. Because, of course, I didn't need tv to teach me right from wrong, or honesty from dishonesty. I'm my own keeper. It's been that way ever since my parents left me alone in this world. Still, I consider the following three television characters to have had the most profound influence on shaping my teenage personality, leading to the adult I am now. The essences of these three fictional characters reside within me even to this day, and those who know me really well can easily discern the part and parcel characteristics I've borrowed from these figures to make my own.


JEAN LUC PICARD



Yes, to no surprise, my latching on to tv role models began at the age of 12. I'm sure there are studies out there that correlate a boy's self-identity with the time he enters puberty. So it's no surprise that my subconscious effort to find a father figure who would teach me what I needed to know to be a man would start around this time. I'd just started junior high school, and Star Trek: The Next Generation had premiered the year before. I'd grown up watching the original 60s show with William Shatner as the young, cocksure Captain Kirk. So I naturally took a disliking to this new show and its new Captain, which were nothing like the original. However, over time the show started to grow on me, to the point that it soon surpassed my love of the original. Now after all these years, ST:TNG is the quintessential Star Trek for me. Nothing before or after it tops this show. And this character was one with which I had a strong attachment as a young boy.

Captain Jean Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) was in many ways the thinking man's captain. Picard very much preferred to use his wits and diplomacy to defuse a dangerous situation, rather than his fists. He was a refined gentleman, well-read in various scholarly pursuits (notably music, botany, and archaeology), yet he was stern under pressure and no-nonsense when it came to saving the lives of his crew. He commanded great respect for his ability to keep his emotions in control under tense situations. All these aspects endeared me to the character, and slowly during the course of the show I found myself imitating Picard's demeanor in real life.


KWAI CHANG CAINE



In January 1993, a spin-off to the 70s show, Kung Fu, premiered on what was then called the: "Prime Time Entertainment Network." The show was called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, once again starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine -- though now the grandson of the original Kwai Chang. I credit this show--and the character of Caine in particular--with awakening the fire in me to learn everything I could about Chinese culture and language, as well as cultivating my interest in gong-fu.

Kwai Chang Caine, like Jean Luc Picard, was refined and wise. He was someone who could obviously carry himself in a fight, but whom--more often than not--sought the peaceful solution to a conflict. This was who I wanted to be like. I was always a quiet and observant child by nature, and by 1993 I had grown into one of those intense, focused teenagers. The type of person who other kids in high school had no idea how to deal with, and would generally leave alone for fear of what he might do in reprisal. But the values that Caine stood for were my values as well, and so it was easy to see why I would latch on to this character as my role model.


DUNCAN MACLEOD



Finally we come to the last of my three dads, Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. This figure appeared in Highlander: The Series as the titular character, portrayed by one Adrian Paul. While premiering before Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in the Fall of 1992, I wasn't introduced to the show until shortly after I had already been addicted to KFtLC for a couple of months. But when my best friend, Tarrell, finally convinced me to check it out, I was hooked from the get-go!

Duncan MacLeod was a 400-year old Immortal, master swordsman, and martial artist. However, I found myself more drawn to the deep pathos that arose from the character's long life than the action-y elements (although those aspects were a nice bonus on the show). How it was that, despite never being able to die, his life was far from a happy one. For in those 400 years Mac, as he was known to his friends, has had to deal with the deaths of countless loved ones, all the while remaining alive and struggling to make it through another year without those he cherished. As someone who had lost his mother at an early age, this pathos resonated deeply with me. I actually *felt* the heart-wrenching pain of this character's loss, and I was never the same again.

Duncan MacLeod, more than any character on any other show, has defined who I am as an adult man dealing with a monstrous past. The strength to face the world and the demons it holds, I drew from this character most of all. Highlander has had the most profound influence on the young man I was becoming and would remain even to this day.


And there you have it! These are the three biggest TV influences to shape my personality in those turbulent teenage years when I struggled to find myself. I'm not any one of these characters, nor am I the sum of these men. I've taken only certain facets from all three--aspects which I suspect I already exhibited naturally on my own. But the influence is there nonetheless.

So, do any of you have tv or film characters who have inspired you in life? If so, please sound off in the comments section below.

16 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

I can't think of any that really inspired me. I LOVE(D) LUCY. I always wanted to be funny like her. This is one I'll have to think about a bit. I grew up watching Dark Shadows and horror films, not really anyone to emulate ;)

EconomicDisconnect said...

Duncan would be the bestest dad of all time!

Botanist said...

I think Mother's and Father's Days are much bigger here than in the UK, so I never placed any great meaning in them. However, it was lovely yesterday to wake up to a full breakfast cooked by my kids. Bacon, eggs, beans on toast. Great start to the day.

Loved that re-post. Picard is an awesome role model.

Yvonne said...

I think your "three dads", raised an awesome son! ;)

Jennifer Hillier said...

How sad is it that I don't really know any of your dads? But they did a great job with you! :)

Ashe Hunt said...

As I was being raised by my Dad these guys' place in my life were as favorite uncles who knew shit I wanted to know and carried themselves in a way I wanted to emulate. Great post the first and second time!

David Batista said...

What's funny is, my mom was a LOT like Lucy. I mean, it was uncanny. She even kinda looked like her. :)

David Batista said...

But of course! Too be honest, though, by that time I wanted to *be* Duncan Macleod rather than have him as my dad. His example was a very big part of my sudden transition to the me I am today back when I was 16. If that makes sense . . .

David Batista said...

I didn't even know they existed in other countries. Always thought it was something made up in the States. Especially Father's Day, which I believe is more recent than Mother's. But you sound like you had a perfect day yourself, Ian. You're very blessed!

And yes, Picard ruined me for all other Star Fleet captains. Even Ben Sisko comes second to him in my estimation. And that's saying a lot because Sisko is AWESOME!

David Batista said...

Aww, thanks. That was actually a pretty cool comment. I absorbed a lot from these three fictional dudes.

David Batista said...

It's even more sad because Kung Fu: The Legend Continues was filmed entirely in your hometown of Toronto for the better part of the 90s! :) I attribute this show with about 99% of my burning desire to visit your fair city, especially the Chinatown area which is where most of the outdoor scenes were shot. I was always fascinated by how close Toronto resembled my own hometown of NYC. Of all the Canadian cities where tv shows are commonly shot, that one gets it the closest.

David Batista said...

Thanks. Yeah, you had a dad and a mom. Which was enough to be envious of, even if you probably didn't feel all that worthy of envy at the time. :) The "grass is always greener" as the saying goes. Still, we both ended up okay regardless. More of a testament to us than our circumstances, I think.

EconomicDisconnect said...

Indeed it does. Often times without a Dad to learn from I would ask 'What would Duncan do; what is right?'

Jennifer Hillier said...

Haha, REALLY? Okay, that makes it extra pathetic of me not to be familiar with the show (although I had friends who watched it).

I think you'd enjoy Toronto - it's like NYC's little sister. If you ever visit, we'll do it up! :)

Stephanie Roberts said...

Hi, random question, do you know what episode/movie that picture of Duncan MacLeod is from? I'm working on trying to recreate that outfit for my son (who is named Duncan) for ComicCon, and need some more visual references...

David Batista said...

Stephanie, boy did you ask the right person! The pic is taken from the end scene in "Legacy," which is Episode 19 in Season 2 of the tv show. Hope that helps, and good luck with the outfit!

You Might Also Like:

LinkWithin