Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Smallville: The Sacrifice Begins...

Now that I've written about Heroes, it's time to turn my attention to that other show about heroes, Smallville. Another bit of superhero candy, even if a little to WB for me...but I did finally get into the show last season, and very curious about how they will play out Doomsday.

Unfortunately, Clark's biggest battle is not with that nemesis, but with altruism...we currently see "Smallville" in Metropolis, working at the Daily Planet (finally, get off the farm, Tom Welling's gotta be hitting 30 by now...). Anyway, he's trying his damnedest to be everywhere at once, to save everyone at once...Martian Manhunter has to tell him to slow down, that he can't save everyone, to which Clark replies "The day I believe that is the day I quit." Ok...of course, Jimmy Olson reminds us why SUPERMAN is a hero and says that Clark is the kind of guy people can count on, that it's rare for someone to be there for friends and strangers like Clark.

That's because Clark is a shmoo. And because Superman is the ultimate "Christ Symbol," Clark is going to find that the biggest threat is not a spikey monster, but the begging hands and bleeding hearts of altruism. Consider these words from Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness:

"In the normal conditions of existence, man has to choose his goals, project them in time, pursue them and achieve them by his own effort. He cannot do it if his goals are at the mercy of and must be sacrificed to any misfortune happening to others. He cannot live his life by the guidance of rules applicable only to conditions under which human survival is impossible."

Rand is not talking about truly emergency situations. On the contrary: "An emergency is an unchosen, unexpected event, limited in time, that creates conditions under which human survival is impossible...In an emergency situation, men's primary goal is to combat the disaster, escape the danger and restore normal conditions."

But that's NOT what Clark is attempting to do; he is actively on the lookout for disasters. It is not as if he's being compensated either, like the police or fire department, he is doing it because it is his duty, his "destiny." So why does he do this? "The altruist ethics is based on a 'malevolent universe' metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed-that success, happiness, achievement, are impossible to him-that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them."

So in other words, Superman, like Christ, does not believe that people are capable of taking care of themselves (even spunky, sassy Lois, with her kung-fu fighting, can't do without him, apparantly...). Big brother is here to take care of you now...

Only, we can't really blame him, can we? After all, he, like Christ, is simply a projection of humanity's vision of itself as helpless and guilty. So he's nothing more than a wish, a wish to evade responsibility to take care of ourselves. This is the artistic version of moral hazard, combined with a "waiting for Godot" attitude.

"Somebody save me," indeed...only what if he doesn't come? What if Clark catches on to his folly? What if Clark is listening to some Elton John one day, and decides that he should have stayed on the farm and listened to his old man? What if he rejects the idea that life is one big emergency, one big Doomsday? What if he realizes the virtue of selfishness?

Fortunately, we now have Barack Obama to save the day. Ne'er mind...

1 comments:

madmax said...

I watched Smallville for the first 6 years but finally the altruism got to me. I just couldn't take the Shmoo aspects of it. It was too much. And compared to BattleStar Galactica or Lost, Smallville is just terribly written. Actually, I really got tired of it after 3 years, but only watched it for the next three years because I am in love with Kristen Kruek (even though she is a typical liberal actress).

And you are so right about Superman being a Christ like figure. In fact, in the first or second season there was a comic book that Lex loved when he was a kid. It was called "Warrior Angel" and the directors of Smallville would always show Clark next to a statue of an angel. I used to say to myself, "damn, Christian symbolism is all over this show."

Lastly thanks for reminding me of this:

"The altruist ethics is based on a 'malevolent universe' metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed-that success, happiness, achievement, are impossible to him-that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them."

That describes both Christianity and modern liberalism to a "T".