Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Have A Theory About Superman's Day Job

I have a theory about Superman's Day Job.

Poor bastard is the most powerful man (and illegal alien for those of you on the right keeping score) on earth. This poor bastard, you know what he needs? Corporate sponsorship. Why the fuck is he holding down a day job? He has the best bachelor pad. Ever. Sure, it's off the beaten path. But for someone who can fly faster than a speeding bullet, it makes my train commute look silly. 

Instead, he embraces getting yelled at by some old school editor that can't grasp the digital age of publishing, being treated as less than a man by a man-eater of an ambitious career woman, and being ribbed by some ginger-haired copy boy who can't get laid. One day Mr. Kent is going to clock his pal James Olsen, and you know what we'll say privately: that little shit had it coming. 

Now I know Supes wouldn't take sponsorship by, say, BP or Haliburton, but what about Amnesty International? Imagine how the donations would pour in. Now I know he would need to stay in the city, have some sort of perfunctory base of operations, purely for visibility and moral support. Complete with a sort of command center with a dispatchers manning a few dozen red Bat-phone type hotlines.

But he doesn't.

And you know why? 
I think Clark Kent loves language.

I think this perfect physical specimen, who is nigh invulnerable, likes getting lost in his head. I think he likes the puzzle of our alien language. I think he likes the investigative work, connecting the dots. Unlocking the combination for a feature article. One where he can give his mind the flexing it needs. Perhaps interject a bit of commentary from someone with a much wider world view though still filtered through a sensible Midwestern sensibility.

And he's doing this at a newspaper that is going to be widely read. Perhaps he touches more people in a single day as Clark Kent than as Superman. I imagine working on the farm, the Kents at night after a friendly game of cards, perhaps pinochle, might -- I can't imagine them with a TV and perhaps that's being naive, but I can imagine them retiring to the library they must have had. A family fortress of solitude. Now you may think of farmers as simple folks...

But here's what farmers need to know to survive:

Meterology. Agriculture, husbandry, mechanicals. Market flux. Government subsidies. Banking, etc. And now Software and Computer Sciences. Accounting. Carpentry. And much much more. For escape and respite I can imagine handmade bookshelves filled with volumes and volumes of true crime, non fiction, historical biographies and mysteries (cigarette-ashes-on-the-carpet-in-a-locked-room). 

And surely Sherlock Holmes. And perhaps it was here in these stories that mysteries gripped Clark's mind.  Captured his imagination in a way that hauling bales of hay one in each hand could not. Also Holmes' use of disguises. Perhaps this inspired Clark to keep his Clark persona in the big city.

And maybe, just maybe, Sherlock Holmes' habitual drug use showed Clark that even heroes can be flawed and forgiven. And that sometimes we all need a little chemistry, because for us, the yellow sun only burns.

But now think about Clark Kent, a respected jounalist but must have dumbed down his articles. Just a bit. Arguably, Clark Kent with his wealth of infinitely superior knowledge passed down to him by a top scientist of an advanced race could have become a world famous authority on damn near anything.

Now take that knowledge and mix it with the down home folksy charm and wisdom of a Midwestern farmer. Imagine the insight and humanity woven into even the most dry, investigative story. Clark Kent should have been a world famous writer.  I imagine there is a whole catelogue of polished articles that would have catapulted anyone else to the ranks of world class investigative jounalists. Someone sought after to host a TV special. Like
Night Line. Or 360 with Clark Kent, etc.

But no, he is just above average. Workman like. And knew he could do better. But he knew his obligation was to communicate clearly and effectively. Yet again, another sacrifice from a man that could have ruled the world.

So, for me, I'd like to think in his heart of hearts, Clark Kent is a writer first and foremost, and his obligation, his real day job is wearing a red cape and saving our asses from ourselves.


  1. what a thought, i can see it and believe it. write a short story about it.

  2. You made me fall in love with Clark Kent/Superman all over again. ;)

  3. Thanks, Berit.
    That's a wonderful compliment.
    I think everyone has their own version of Superman they hold dear.
    They're just so many interpretations, mostly bad.
    Check back soon. I'm working on a Superman/Batman piece.

  4. I always thought Clark was much more interesting than Superman. I think you're right. He was a smart, polite, backwards alien trying to fit in. His observations on humanity ... And inhumanity....would be fascinating! Great blog. I'll be back.

  5. Thanks for the comment, jfieldsjr.

    I'll be posting a new piece soon re: Batman vs. Superman and how my favorite may be switching and why…

    Keep that good spirit on ya!



  6. Or perhaps he's a shy adrenaline-junkie. ;) Great post!

  7. What the world needs is a pubbed collection of Kent's articles . . . just sayin.