A Confusion of Michaels

I need to talk about Michael J. Fox, Alex P. Keaton, and Michael Keaton. Maybe I’m not alone on this childhood confusion (I’m probably alone).

When I was younger, I watched the show Family Ties. I thought it was just a sitcom until I saw an interview with Michael J. Fox in which he referred to his character, Alex P. Keaton, as a separate person. Like, “I think Alex is just a normal kid who happens to love republican politics”* As a child, I was confused by this. It seemed that he knew the real Alex and conferred with him.

Family Ties, I concluded, must be based on a real family.

Cut to the 1989 Batman movie. It stars a man named Michael Keaton. It made sense to me that Alex P. Keaton (the real one), inspired by his friend and counterpart, Michael J. Fox, decided to go into acting. He must have changed his first name to Michael, inspired by his Hollywood friend Michael J. Fox.

One problem, this Batman Michael was old. Too old to be Alex. P. Keaton. What happened? How was this possible? I was quietly confused about it for years, more than I care to admit.

Michael-Alex JP Foxkeaton – you may not be a real thing, but you’ll live in my imagination forever as the republican kid who grew up to be Batman.


*Not a real MJF quote.