I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Clark Kent: American

Superman isn't an American. He's a known alien whose only official place of residence is an underground bunker in Antartica. While he does spend a lot of time in Metropolis, he's certainly got a good track record of saves all around the world. He's saved planes with bad engines in Argentina, put out brush fires in Africa, plugged failing dams in Korea, and rescued stranded subs in Russia. He's shown himself to be a watchman for the world.

Then there's Clark Kent. Smallville just had it's series finale, and I was a bit distressed at the choices the program made right at the end. Basically, they settled into the classic notion that Clark Kent exists mainly as a disguise for Superman.

It's a shame, because the series for most of it's run did a good job of making you understand that Clark Kent was the real person at the heart of Superman. Clark doesn't exist to give Superman a place to hide when he's tired. Clark exists because that was the only name he knew for the first two decades of his life. Clark Kent isn't a secret identity... he's an ordinary man with mid-western values who just happens to have a laundry list of superpowers he's mildly embarassed to possess. And, despite some false information on his birth certificate, Clark is 100% American.

The proof lies in his choice of career. Clark's a newspaper reporter; it's really tough to imagine a more American job. Clark probably spends the bulk of his days going to school board meetings and sitting in on zoning hearings. For the two hours he spends listening to some Metropolis city commisioner debating a new subway line, he could be out fighting crime, rescuing airplanes, or venting volcanoes. But, he's made the decision to write the article about the subway line over saving some village in South America because Clark understands that, in his ordinary job, he is an essential cog in the great machinery of democracy.

Yeah, there are going to be days where Clark has no choice but to put on the cape and go out to beat up Gorilla Grodd and his zombie monkey army. And, sure, if a plane is falling out of the sky, he's one of about a dozen people in the DC universe who can stop it. But I'd like to think that Clark, as Superman, has seen a lot of the world. He's seen countries where children are starving, other countries wracked by civil war, and plenty of places where the leaders are nothing but thugs who enrich themselves while their citizens suffer.

Clark understands that the real problems of the world aren't going to be solved by men in tights swooping in and beating up people. Instead, civilization works best when governments are freely elected and operate transparently, under the watchful eye of a free press.

Clark Kent punches the clock and works eight hours a day reporting on the boring mechanics of government because he believes that in doing so, he's building a better world. I imagine he's frustrated daily with a lot of the idiotic things that government does. He fights his most important fights by sitting down and typing, so that the people can know what is being done in their name.

Superman is a demi-god who can't be bothered with politics. He owes his loyalty to no country, and pays no taxes. Clark Kent is a citizen of the United States of America. He votes. And I bet he pays every last penny of his taxes, happy to chip in his small part toward the purchase of civilization.


Gray Rinehart said...

Very nice, James! I don't give much thought to the inner workings of the minds of superheroes, but this seems spot-on. Well done!

James Maxey said...

Thanks, Gray.

allanbard said...

Good remindings! Usually one doesn't pay attention to such details, but people like you point the truth, thanks God!
I hope you don't mind a suggestion of mine every fantasy/sci-fi writer would like? Using sites like zazzle.com, caffepress.com, fiverr, etc? They could be a good way for promotion and "removing" stupidity in streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge magnets, cups, etc. of the kind My Boyfriend kisses better than yours, FBI - Female Body Inspector, etc... Every author could use some good, wise quotes from his/her works, some poems, illustrations, etc. I'm allanbard there, I use some of my quotes, illustrations, poems, like: One can fight money only with money, Even in the hottest fire there's a bit of water, All the problems in the world lead to one - narrow-minded people, Money are amongst the last things that make people rich, or
Love and happiness will be around,
as all the chains will disappear!
And Mountaineers will climb their mount,
and there won't be any tear!
I guess such things look and sound much better than the usual stuff we see every day? Best wishes! Good luck with your works! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of the water dragons' hunters - my 1st Tale Of The Rock Pieces).