City Slang: An open letter to Superman
Dear Mr. Kent/El,
First off, let me just say that I love your work. While I found you a little self-righteous and, well, Boy Scout-ish when I was passing through my nihilistic, brooding teenage years and, if I’m honest, much of my twenties, I now find the high moral ground upon which you stand to have quite the view.
I very much enjoy how you have dealt with Lex Luthor over the years, a man who could be a living, breathing metaphor for all big business, the corrupting nature of power in the hands of too few humans, and capitalism in general. If only you could have dealt with America’s banks in a similar fashion a couple of years ago… but that’s another letter for another time.
I have followed your exploits for some time now, from the biopics shot in the late ‘70s and the eighties, through the craziness of your old high school videos brought to life as Smallville, recently concluding with the updated biopic Man of Steel. I’m also delighted to learn that I’ll be able to watch your work with your Goth friend Batman in a couple of years. However, there’s something that you’ve been getting wrong since ’33, and I think it’s a minor adjustment to your life that could make a huge difference and ultimately save lives.
DUDE. If you want a cover, if you want to create an alter-ego that serves to distract people from the immense nature of your regular gig, don’t, for fuck’s sake, don’t be a journalist with one of the biggest newspapers in America. Seriously, what were you thinking?
I get the original intent – that as a journalist you’ll be able to hear about trouble on the media-waves, and then get out there to stop it. Unfortunately, that train of thought crashes off the tracks from the get-go. Any student with a radio can hack into police frequencies. Just do that. Better yet, use that super-hearing thing which results in the ‘holding in a fart’ face. But don’t be a journalist for the Daily Planet. Just don’t do it.
I’m a journalist for a weekly. The name alone implies that the Daily Planet is a daily. I can tell you that my work is never done. Only this week I pulled an all-nighter, and there will be many more.
I ask myself, how many times in the past 14 years since I started doing this have I had a chance to beat Lex Luthor, Braniac, Darkseid, Zod and/or Doomsday into living shit? How many weeks and months were available to pause a story so that I could go gallivanting with the Justice League, no matter how fucking witty the Flash can be? How much free time did I have to hook up with Lois Lane/Lana Lang/Wonder Woman? The answer to all of those questions is, No Fucking Time At All. Not if I wanted to hold down a job.
Saying that you want to be a journalist as cover for the superhero thing is condescending to say the least. Believe you me, Kent – this is a full time gig. Like, full time. Not 9-to-5, but it takes up all of your time. Your time is full. If it isn’t, then you’re not doing it properly.
It’s not just a time thing either. I get that you are fast enough to solve a crime before most of us have poured a coffee or peed. But when you get back to your desk having just walloped the crap out of whichever villain is irritating you on that particular day, a story barely started blinking rapidly at you and a deadline fast approaching, can you really concentrate? Can you really put your all into a story about the state of Metropolis’ public transport system when you have Kryptonian relatives barking orders at you from the crystal monstrosity you call a fortress (I built a fortress as a child and it sure as shit didn’t look like that).
Because if you can’t do those stories justice, if you can’t give the job your absolute all, then you’re taking work away from better journalists.
Clark Kent, don’t take work away from journalists. That’s not fair, and it certainly isn’t super.
Here is a list of jobs better suited to an undercover superhero:
server at a buffet restaurant,
scientist responsible for radioactive insects.
That’s all I’ve got, but I’m sure there are more. Again, Mr. Kent, I very much appreciate the saving humanity/symbol of hope stuff. Keep it up, sir. Just quit half-assing what many of us care about.
Oh, and good work on the Wonder Woman score.