Saturday, July 06, 2013

Tagging makes Clark Kent obsolete

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson


The most famous underwear in comics is that of Superman.  There are two reasons. One, because it is red and two, for some reason he does not wear it under the blue tights.

When I saw the publicity shots of Man of Steel I thought finally the franchise found people with good taste.  Then I finally learned where the underwear came from.  In a featurette Man of Steel director Zack Snyder states the inspiration for the famous red underwear were those of Victorian era strongmen.


Superman originated in the 1933.  He is strong.  It makes some sense that some part of history was used by Joe Shuster for the costume.  This is 2013 and I’ll give an A for Zack Snyder for making a costume update.

Over the years many other superheroes have been updated.  For example Spider-man used to be bitten by a radioactive spider but in the movies the culprit is now a genetically modified spider.  And did you know Iron Man used to need only wall outlets?  

Zack Snyder’s updates were just about time for hero though well loved also does not make much sense.  With the often regarded as senseless red underwear now gone and presented as Kryptonian clothing, the Superman’s glasses should have been next in line.  Perhaps, Zack missed it; didn’t have answers for it; or decided that to tackle the issue of the glasses would cause too much of a strain on the fan base.

Many people have asked how could anyone not put two and two together and deduced that Clark Kent and Superman are one.  A nice pair of Ray-bans would have hidden the face better but that would make Clark more like a Matt Murdock, and besides Matt wears a mask when he’s not a lawyer.

In real life it has been known the people can miss a celebrity as they walk the street, but it can always be argued that the celebrity in question may not be that famous which is why no one notices them on the street. 

Then I came upon an interesting article which says that prosopagnosia or face blindness is a real condition people suffer from.   An entire newspaper with a bad eye for faces makes as much sense as Clark Kent’s eyeglasses.  How can they remain in business?

Apparently DC had tried reasoning out that those glasses focus an innate hypnotic power of Clark Kent.  I’m not sure how that story worked but ok.  Maybe it can.

That is until we come down to the catalyst of all changes in society, technology.  In fact in Man of Steel, Superman took down surveillance drones because he didn't want the US government tracking him.  Back in the 30s it can be reasoned out that no one can follow a flying man to find out his secrets, at least now we can see him fight back on technology that may catch up on him.

Can hypnotic power withstand a world full of cameras, a public database of photos, and facial recognition?  It shouldn't, you can't hypnotize machines.  

It used to be that facial recognition was the stuff of spy movies so the logic follows the premise that moneyed individuals or organizations are the only ones capable of finding out Superman’s identity through  technological means.   Today cameras are everywhere; pictures are everywhere organized via tagging.  All you have to do tag once and Facebook or Google will already have a baseline for that face.  The amateur can find out who Clark is just by accident.

So how?  Unless Superman suddenly wears a mask, I don't see how. Then we are still left with why?

After giving it some thought, modern technology is not a requirement to realize a stupid disguise.  All Jerry Siegel, the writer, and Joe Shuster, the artist needed to do was draw and see how stupid it was; for crying out loud they they were practically drawing the same face.  But they continued for some reason and to their fortune Superman has lasted 80 years.  Did the fans find those glasses hypnotic as well. 

I would like to think it’s not hypnosis but more the fans see themselves as Superman.  Ironically in all his power he may be more a symbol of everybody than skill oriented heroes like Batman.  Think about it, while other heroes wear a mask when they’re not doing their day job, Superman removes his or what functions as his mask. 

It means that all people have to do is throw out everyday clothes and forget blending in to be best that they can be.  If they act their best like Superman then the world is better for it.

Considering where technology is going I cannot imagine a way out for Clark Kent.  Maybe a future reboot will have answers, maybe it won’t.  The question of a better disguise will remain left open until the next reboot wherein next generation technology will push the filmmakers to question how Clark Kent’s existence makes sense.

Maybe there's nowhere else to go and the only option is to be like that hero from the other comics company and come clean.