The names, ethnicities, and key details have been changed. But sites from Slate to Laughing Squid are pointing out the unmistakable similiarities between “Bad Ass,” a feature film slated for release in April, and the Epic Beard Man fight on AC Transit in February 2010.
If you missed the viral YouTube video, it shows 67-year-old Thomas Bruso, aka Epic Beard Man, beating a younger man bloody on an AC Transit after a racially-tinged verbal altercation escalated to blows.
Bruso, who is white, gained notoriety as a tough-punching senior citizen in the meme-inspiring clip. But his comments in the video to his younger black opponent (“How much would you charge me for a spit shine?”), largely mar any sort of heroic image which may have emerged in the meme-osphere.
Director and writer Craig Moss leaves in Bruso’s beard and fanny pack but flip-flops the racial element in “Bad Ass,” starring Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman and Charles S. Dutton.
In the film (tagline: “They messed with the wrong senior citizen”), the latino Trejo defends an elderly black man against two skinheads on a commuter bus, before taking his his vigilantism to new heights by stopping liquor store heists and avenging a friend’s murder.
The real-life bad ass Bruso was homeless as recently as May, as depicted in this YouTube video. Some posters to the movie’s Facebook page are calling on the filmmakers to send some royalties Bruso’s way for the obvious co-opting of his character.