You know what was cool about Lois and Clark? Lois was as important to the story as Clark. I mean, she came first in the title! I miss that show.
Man, I loved Lois and Clark, right up until it went off the dang rails over the whole ‘will they or won’t they’ question.
But oddly enough, it’s the only version of Superman I cared about, because it was’t Superman. It was Clark Kent, the guy he CHOSE to be. The human being I could relate to. The guy who loved his friends, and loved his job and wanted to help people. To make the world better. Even when he wasn’t wearing the tights.
People have said that Batman is the real person, and Bruce Wayne is the mask he wears. I think that Clark Kent is the real person, and he puts on the guise of Superman. Despite being alien, at his core, despite being DIFFERENT, Superman is the ultimate immigrant tale.
He is more human than the humans around him in Lois and Clark, because he prizes that. He prizes the ability to be human, to be accepted as human, as opposed to the ‘other,’ the ‘alien,’ the ‘foreign.’
I had FEELINGS for Lois and Clark, okay?
Wow, I wanted to like what you were saying until I got to the bottom and you basically made it sound like there was something “wrong” with being “other ” and “alien” and “foreign”, which is a huge slap in the face to the Superman fans that ARE (or treated as, in the U.S. at least—-even when we were born here) “other”.
So instead of going on yet another diatribe about why Superman being “other” is AWESOME and why maybe there are people (like me) that find that part of him something to relate to in spite of him being a cis-het, white, male hero, I’m just gonna paraphrase my point:
“ As Clark Kent, he gets to avoid having people react to his biology, because he can “pass” [as human] but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t look at the world differently than humans do. Clark being different is not wrong. He shouldn’t need to feel accepted on Earth, however the way he views and is inspired by humans is a major part of his characterization, but he is also not blind to human flaws. He recognizes that because he is an alien raised amongst humans, he is in a unique position to see humanity from an objective point of view…The fact that he feels compelled to appear unthreatening [in the eyes of humans] is not unfamiliar to those that face institutionalized oppression on a daily basis. The problem is that it takes more effort on the part of the “minority” to accomplish this goal in everyday life, when the stereotype is already so pervasive, than it does for those that hold those perceptions and the institutional power to either act on or actually eliminate those perceptions. That is the definition of privilege." — Me, Examining Privilege in the Comic Book Narrative (a working paper)
And comic books, from ALL the major publishers, have a very problematic history of dealing with civil rights and immegration issues using cis, het, white males. This is a sort of fake representation that makes the situation palatable to the majority of their white, het, male readers without providing actual representation for women, POC, and people with alternate sexualities, among others.
A recent, and interesting, look at the issue concerning Marvel and the X-Men (a group that stands for the repressed ‘other’ while remaining mostly made up of cis het white dudes) is here:http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2013/12/what-if-the-x-men-were-black/Interesting take, and a question that needed to be asked.
That being said, I think the issue is, no one wants to be seen as an outsider. It implies a default. It implies that there are people who are NOT. It is not a matter of being ashamed of who you are, or not accepting who you are, or losing ones culture or ones unique viewpoint on life. It is about the establishment, and the society, and individuals who view you as the ‘other’ in a pervasive and systematic system of oppression.
I read an article by a trans*person (and as I cannot find the original article, I do not wish to misgender the individual who wrote it, so I apologize for the blanket term) who objected to the term ‘passing.’ Because as a trans*person, this person had no way of controlling how the world viewed them. That impetuous was on the VIEWER, not the VIEWED. The author encouraged the use of the phrase ‘being passed,’ because that forces everyone to acknowledge that no person has a choice in how they are precieved. That perception is fully on the person who is doing the viewing.
In my original post, it was about being accepted as human, as opposed to being preceived ‘other’ or ‘alien.’ To be Clark Kent. American Citizen. Citizen of Earth. He chooses Clark, in “Lois and Clark” because this is how he wishes to be preceived. And unlike an actual human being, facing actual prejudice, he has that luxury. Because we pass him.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t a big fan of LnC and part of my problem was I felt the show dismissed Clark’s alien heritage. I had my issues with Smallville but what I thought they got right was Clark’s difficult childhood always having to hide who he is in fear that other people will not understand and fear him.
Clark in Smallville also wished to be perceived as human and I think that was a lot of what his relationship with Lana was all about. He didn’t want to be an alien with super powers. He was denying part of himself.
Clark in LnC, I felt, just ignored that side of him. The “Superman is what I can do, Clark is who I am” line bothered me from day one. I’ve always felt it was more complex than that. If you have to worry about throwing the ball too far then it’s more than what you can do, it defines how you interact with people.
He has to learn how to control these powers and to make sure the neighbors don’t find out. That means he’s hiding a very important part of himself.
I also feel that by stripping LnC’s Clark of his alienness they diluted the importance of Lois’s love of the man.
Smallville’s Clark tells Lois in Scion that he always felt like an outsider and a freak and the only time he felt normal was with her. This is more than a “TAKE THAT LANA/CHLOE!” moment. It’s a key moment where Clark acknowledges that Lois shouldn’t have to choose between the human and alien. She wasn’t asked to prove she loved the “human” Clark Kent and merely accept the Blur side. She loves who he is at his core.
That conversation in Charade when the Blur says good-bye to Lois? He’s gutted. It’s tearing him apart not to be able to talk with her because that super powered alien needed somebody he could share that side and not just find acceptance but joy and wonder. Those conversations were his lifeline because he could be honest and true to a side of himself he had to hide all his life.
Meanwhile in LnC, Clark expects Lois to fall for only one side of him. By *not* acknowledging that Superman is much more than what he can do and that Superman is a part of who he is, he’s putting all the onus on Lois. Come on, there is this great guy in front of you, see him, don’t be dazzled by the powers. I think it reduces Lois’s love for Superman to an unreal fantasy crush instead of showing she sees in Superman the same she sees in Clark, his soul if you will.
When she falls for both sides who are hiding part of themselves, we have Lois put those pieces together to make the whole man. She’s not expected to fall for only one part of the puzzle. This is how I see Clark/Superman/Kal. A sum of those parts of the puzzle.
I see him as an alien raised by humans who has had to hide a part of who he is in fear he’ll be rejected. His wanting to belong to humanity is a wish and what makes the relationship with Lois so powerful is with her he finds that he doesn’t have to deny part of himself to belong. He don’t have to pass.
He can be an alien raised by human parents, he can love pretzels with mustard and all his environmental human upbringing trappings but at the same time can take her to the fortress and share all manner of wonders. He’s not hiding any part of himself.
Waid’s Birthright has a great scene when Lois meets Superman for the first time and Superman tells her not to fear him. She replies that she doesn’t and he flies off with such joy thinking “she’s not afraid”.
This is meaningful because so many people would fear a man who can do what he can do.
Clark isn’t a human being. He is in his very dna an alien. He is raised on this planet by humans who love him but his experience is very different than his adopted parents.
I’m raising bi-racial children, they are brown like me. My son’s experiences growing up because of the visual (brown south asian looking teen who people profile as looking “middle eastern) will be different than his dad’s. I’ve had to warn my son how to behave if stopped, something his father wouldn’t even think to worry about.
Clark has things he has to worry about his parents wouldn’t even think about but do because he is theirs and they love him.
I think it’s important to underscore though, Clark being alien doesn’t then mean he isn’t part of the planet or a Kent. He is. However, he is also Kal-El, the loved son of Jor-El and Lara. He represents the brightest of both worlds and that is what makes him so powerful, in my estimation at least.