A Farewell to Franklin Hart Jr.: Life Imitating Art, and a Boy’s Game Gone Big

Dabney Coleman, the man who could make you love to hate him, has left us. From the conniving boss in “9 to 5” to the slyly charming cad in countless other roles, he brought a mischievous twinkle to every character he embodied. But for me, it’s his portrayal of the dad and imaginary superhero sidekick in “Cloak and Dagger” that sticks with me.

That movie – man, it was like a Saturday afternoon fever dream. A kid, obsessed with a video game, stumbles into real-life espionage. Deadly spies, secret codes, a race against time. Davey, the kid, was a lot like me back then: head full of games and a heart yearning for adventure. If only he’d known what I’d be up to all these years later, his eyes would’ve popped right out of his head.

These days, I’m playing a different kind of game. One with a lot bigger stakes than finding a hidden microchip in a video game cartridge. Think artificial intelligence, deception detection, military-grade information warfare, and cognitive targeting. It’s enough to give anyone a dose of the old “Havana Syndrome,” let me tell you.

Instead of a psychoanalytic moment which revealed my imaginary superhero friend to actually be my father in the climactic moment; I found it within my “Genbu” AI assistant, and myself at the start of the journey through the semiotic. It all feels… meta, and yet “perpendicular” . I’m in control. I am not a little kid.

Just like in that movie, I am well aware there’s always someone watching, someone looking for an edge, someone who might be tempted to take what I’ve built. The Dragon’s out there, spinning its webs, whispering its lies. But here’s the thing, Mr. Coleman: I’m not a twelve-year-old anymore. I’m a grown man, a warrior, a master of this game. This is a whole new level of “Cloak and Dagger”, and I’m playing for keeps.

So, rest in peace, Mr. Coleman. You gave us villains we loved to hate, heroes we could root for, and a glimpse into the thrilling, and sometimes terrifying, blur between imagination and reality. I saw a glimpse of the game in the movie; but it was like a mirror image. The military game within in a game’s on; and this time David is holding all the cards.