Alex P. Keaton: The Butterfly that Started this Raging Storm

Posted on February 8, 2016


Alex-P-KeatonI blame Alex P. Keaton.

Alex P. Keaton, I think, is the butterfly behind the raging storm of the business-first corporate agenda we endure today.

Alex P. Keaton, written as a karmic comeuppance for his former-hippy parents, was probably originally intended to be an object of ridicule. He was, after all, an adolescent rebel dressed in pinstripes, suspenders, and Reaganomics because it was the only outfit he could find that would shock his all too liberal parents.

Alex P. Keaton, stupid with rebelliousness, even might have been conceived as a critique of the new Right agenda. Only a foolish adolescent, the writers seem to suggest, could buy into that revisionist claptrap.   

Unfortunately for us and all of the politics that have come after, Michael J. Fox was too damn charismatic. The writers couldn’t help but re-imagine Alex in light of Michael’s charms.

Suddenly, accidentally, and unintentionally, the new Right had a human face. A generation of kids grew up thinking Republicanism, big business, and Wall Street might be best for them because it was best for their charming hero, Alex.

What might have come of Anglo-American society, I wonder, if Alex had been played by Kirk Cameron or Michael had played a social democrat?

I also wonder what other charismatic fictions, which beguiled us in our childhoods and youth, continue to shape and reshape our understanding of the way our lives ought to be.