Jason Bateman: A Tribute
June 9th, 2005
His name was Bateman. Not, Justine, or Justin, but Jason. Jason Bateman.
It all began so
perfectly. First, a gig on Little House On the Prairie,
as James Cooper Ingalls, learning some serious acting chops from Michael
Bateman moved on to Its Your Move, his very own vehicle, whose quick cancellation pointed to a society ill-prepared for Bateman’s coy smile and razor wit. Could he help it he was endowed with all the charms that made teenage girls swoon and pre-pubecent boys green with envy?
Undeterred, Bateman landed a role on The Hogan Family, alongside a buch of dweebs and Sandy Duncan, who died some years later after eating enough Wheat Thins to rupture her intestine. Again, Bateman shone like a diamond in the sunlight.
And next? The pinnacle of young Bateman’s career, Teen Wolf Too. Only Bateman could stumble upon the original Teen Wolf’s gear, reprise his role, look the camera straight in the eye, and state, unequivocally, “I am a Teen Wolf.......Too!”
Then, something strange happened. The next great Bateman show, which should have come on the heels of The Hogan Family, never materialized. You made me wait, o lord, growing older, lost without my beacon of light - my Bateman. Somewhere around age twelve I asked you, “Lord, without my actor, my court jester, my muse, my Bateman, wherefore am I to see the show? To enrich my soul? To live? To feel? To press onward?”
And you answered with Necessary Roughness, the story of the Texas State Armadillos, featuring Bateman as a talentless running back. Sure, the movie was okay, despite Scott Bakula, thanks to Bateman and some wonderful comic relief from everyone’s favorite red-headed-overweight-African-American-comic-in-a-nylon-tracksuit, Sinbad. Something was missing though. Bateman lacked his usual panache.
“Could that man onscreen with everything, somehow need some more?!” I screamed aloud in the theatre that day, imploring you, o lord. Your answer lay somewhere in a flurry of jujubees wielded by the other patrons in the cineplex.
And then, silence. Bateman disappeared. For years, it seemed.
His absence reverberated
off the hollow tubes and dull glass of my Curtes Mathes like silent
thunder. Were it any other man, perhaps one named Haim, Feldman, Cameron,
or Brandis, I could have moved on, unaffected.
Every now and then, I would feel something in the wind, far away in the distance. No, not the toxic waste of the Cleveland lakefront or the pungent manure of Mr. O’Callaghan’s garden down my street, but nostalgia. Nostalgia for a simpler time, where the answers were easy, and the Bateman, plentiful.
And sure enough, each time, I’d be dutifully thumbing through my TV guide and, Eureka! I would read news of a new Bateman series, or at least a TV movie which could launch Bateman back into the mainstream. Breaking The Rules. Black Sheep. Simon. Chicago Sons. George and Leo. Some of My Best Friends.
All were cancelled, unjustly, but at least I had more of the answers. Righteousness isn’t rewarded. Bad things happen to good people. All we are is dust in the wind. You can’t always get want you want. Shah-na-na-na, Shah-na-na-na, Hey-hey-hey, goodbye.
I became deluded. I mistook Jerry O’Connell for Bateman, devising a theory whereby Bateman assumed O’Connell’s identity to get back into mainstream film through Mission to Mars and TomCats. I explained my theory to all who would listen, crazed, chomping at the bit, and foaming at the mouth. My loved ones sent in psychiatrists, who prescribed Prozac and electroconvulsive therapy, but none could unlock my delusion of O’Connell-as-Bateman returning to glory. Finally, my dear friend Tim cornered me in my rubber room:
Tim: “Chris. O’Connell is not Bateman. Let it go. Let the anger go.”
C.W.: “No, IT’S BATEMAN! Don’t you see? He’s glorious!”
Tim:“No, buddy, its O’Conell. He played Vern in Stand By Me. Let it go.”
C.W.: “Dude, IT’S BATEMAN!”
Tim: “No. Come on, dude. We both know it isn’t Bateman.”
C.W.: (weeping uncontrolably) - “I know! I know! I.......... I.........I just want Bateman!”
Tim: “Easy, little fella. I want him too. We all want Bateman. But he’s gone.”
After I got out of the psych ward, aided in my recovery by Eddie Money recordings and Pepperidge Farm products, I resolved to let Bateman go. So, I put my Teen Wolf memorabilia away in the top shelf of my closet, where I also kept a Penthouse nobody knew about.
“Sweet Bateman,” I said, to nobody in particular, “I shan’t forget you.”
Then, some years later,
I heard your voice, o Lord. It erupted mountaintops and rumbled the
Earth with 9.9 magnitude,The liquid hot magma of redemption flowed freely.
Not only is Arrested Development a mainstream vehicle for Bateman, but it’s without question the best comedy on television. Bateman, as the straight man amongst a bevy of characters, keeps the show moving with quizzical glances, rolls of the eyes, and that perfect, coy smile he flashed so many years ago on Silver Spoons.
I speak for many when I say I’ve regained my sense of fairness, of justice, in the world, now that Bateman routinely graces the screens of so many televisions. There is a lesson to be learned- To keep the faith.
Indeed, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning. I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. Nor do I know where Bateman will be. But I will press onward, as he will. And in the end, all who are worthy shall be redeemed.
Praise be to you, God. And, to Bateman, your prophet.
C.W. Is the Reason There's a Third Season of Arrested Development.