What Would Alex P. Keaton Do?

What Would Alex P. Keaton Do? Apparently someone asked Michael J. Fox that question:

After a nearly 20-year absence, Nixon-loving, Reagan-worshipping Alex P. Keaton is again slinging his political views on television.

Michael J. Fox, who played the conservative teen on the 1980s sitcom “Family Ties,” says that if the right-wing, tie-wearing Keaton were a real person, Alex would disagree with the Republican stance against increased embryonic stem cell research.

“I was recently asked what my character, Alex P. Keaton would think of me campaigning for stem cell research,” Fox said Monday during a speech in Keaton’s TV hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

“First, he would be happy I’m wearing a tie. And I think he would tell me I’m doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.” [….]

Keaton was never shy about incorporating his politics into everyday life, becoming a true spin doctor years before that term entered the lexicon. Remember when he used to advise his little brother Andrew with Republican cheers or Democrat jeers?

He carried a briefcase to high school. He ran for student council president. He espoused odd ideas for teens, such as capitalism and supply-side economics.

Despite all that, “Family Ties” focused mostly on themes surrounding its title, says Robert Thompson of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television. “It was never a show about politics. It was a way of using politics to frame a fish-out-of-water scenario.”

At first, Alex P. Keaton wasn’t supposed to garner so much attention on the show, which also starred Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross as Keaton’s liberal, ex-hippie, baby boomer parents.

Eventually, Fox’s popularity vaulted him on to the covers of teen magazines, which then led to roles in films such as 1987’s “The Secret of My Succe$s” and 1991’s “Doc Hollywood,” where he played characters identified with the young yuppie myth.

Fox himself embellished the Keaton myth by adding the middle initial P to Keaton’s name as an ad lib during an audition, according to IMDb.com.

By 1989, after seven seasons , “Family Ties” ended and Alex left the Keaton home to begin a career on Wall Street.Later, more fictitious information about Keaton surfaced during Fox’s final episode of his 1990s sitcom “Spin City,” when it was revealed that Keaton was elected as an Ohio congressman, according to IMDb.com.

“Most Americans in their 30s know Keaton’s character,” Thompson says. “He represented a shifting political demographic in the ’80s, a portion of a generation who rejected their boomer parents’ Democratic loyalties.”

Whatever Keaton might have thought about stem cell research, his hero’s widow, former first lady Nancy Reagan, shifted her views in favor of it, as the former president was dying of Alzheimer’s disease.

I’ve my own theory about Alex. Presumably after his successful Wall Street career, I would tend to think that Alex became more of the libertarian mold of conservative. I’d agree that he’d be for stem-cell research and he never really struck me as a guy who’d be some right winger pro-lifer – no, I think he’d be more pro-choice. I mean, he’s still the son of ex-hippies who surely taught him something (he was pretty close to his mom, who taught him a thing or two about strong women, and the love of his life was a liberal – and I like to believe that Alex did get Ellen back in his life – Michael J. Fox did end up marrying the actress who played Ellen, after all!). And, well, Alex is from Ohio – he can’t afford to be that conservative and I just can’t buy that after a Wall Street career that he’d go all Christian-church-going, family values (not without a serious transformation – which can happen, since Alex isn’t real). He was pro-business, but had a heart (even if he didn’t tend to admit it).

Hmm. An Asian-American Republican candidate in California whose aide (or maybe himself?) got into something rather foolish concerning how to handle Hispanic voters (or this really shoddy way of discouraging illegals from voting – and not to mention naturalized immigrants, who are legal to – uh – vote). When I first heard this story, I shook my head; but this link to Time.com – well, politics is ugly all right.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on why smoking marijuana, even if a bunch of states legalizes it, is still not good for you:

But I suspect that most of the people eager to vote yes on the new ballot measures aren’t suffering from glaucoma, Alzheimer’s or chemo-induced nausea. Many of them just want to get stoned legally. That’s why I, like many other doctors, am unimpressed with the proposed legislation, which would legalize marijuana irrespective of any medical condition.

Why do I care? As Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, puts it, “Numerous deleterious health consequences are associated with [marijuana’s] short- and long-term use, including the possibility of becoming addicted.”

What are other health consequences? Frequent marijuana use can seriously affect your short-term memory. It can impair your cognitive ability (why do you think people call it dope?) and lead to long-lasting depression or anxiety. While many people smoke marijuana to relax, it can have the opposite effect on frequent users. And smoking anything, whether it’s tobacco or marijuana, can seriously damage your lung tissue.

The Nevada and Colorado marijuana initiatives have gained support from unlikely places. More than 33 religious leaders in Nevada have endorsed the measure, arguing that permissive legalization, accompanied by stringent regulations and penalties, can cut down on illegal drug trafficking and make communities safer.

Perhaps. But I’m here to tell you, as a doctor, that despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good. And if you get high before climbing behind the wheel of a car, you will be putting yourself and those around you in danger.