Man of Steel

Saw The Man of Steel. Found it illogical, sappy, and very pretty; pretty much what certain men want.

I could make a thousand misinterpretations of the movie, but that would require seeing it again. Here’s just one.

(One note: So the Star Trek movie had to include “Khaa—an!” even if it just deepened the feeling this was a parody of a Trek film and not an actual Trek film; but this movie couldn’t find a spot for “Kneel before Zod!” — I am disappointed, Hollywood.)

*

Man of Steel is a movie about Kal-El/Clark Kent, an alien in human society, and his struggle against the wounds inflicted on his psyche by his two fathers.

One, Jor-El, was an alien ideologue and agitator — whose image is softened by us seeing him only through his own proclamations. Sure, without his opponents even Rush Limbaugh might sound like the voice of benevolent reason, and his enemies a pack of shrill shrews. Maybe his audience with the rulers of the planet was like Orly Taitz’s fifteen minutes of fame?

And Jor-El the scientist — an off-hand remark tells us he’s an engineer of spaceships, which explains his fixation on living space in outer space, and makes us doubt his diagnosis of the planet’s geological problems. Maybe his doomsaying was meritless, and the deadly problems really began with the Zodite rebellion? One doesn’t hear much about hollow-mined planets, but military doomsday weapons run amok are a common worry.

Jor-El believed that things used to be better; that technology had eaten the soul of his people; that the rulers were obstinate and foolish in disregarding his warnings; that the looming disaster facing the planet could be conquered by grit, painful childbirth, and returning to the old ways of expansionistic empire. (Okay, no need to rush quite this far…)

Jor-El was quick to say the current system was monstrous, assigning every child an occupation at birth, and his alternative was FREEDOM! — well, what words to better make Kal-El, grown up in the odd world of Am-Erika, agree with him? Maybe Zod was a typical case, a man happy with his assigned lot, and grief-mad when made incapable of executing it. Maybe Jor-El — of the scientist caste or the leader caste? — was the one-in-a-million aberration of an otherwise working system, strange and uncomfortable as it may seem to us, who aren’t told its nuances and numbers.

He sent his son, Kal-El, to the planet of the Hu-Mans. Kal-El could pass for a human — this is curious, because surely there were medical check-ups and swimming pools and the like. It is beyond imagination that these aliens would have nipples where we have them; genitalia where we have them. (Or is this why young Kal-El was so socially isolated? “Never show those tentacles to other children, Clark!”) It is more plausible that Kal-El was a human-alien hybrid, a part of Jor-El’s cataclysmic, delusional, desperate, Alex-Jonesy plan of perpetuating only that part of the alien race which agreed with him. One of Jor-El’s ideological enemies, Zod, preferred a military invasion; Jor-El a stealthy, genetic one. He impregnated his son with the whole genetic diversity of Krypton, and then sent him to the world of happily breeding monkeys. Jor-El might even have preferred Kal-El never knowing his ancestry: time enough to reveal his ghostly presence, ready to lay down unchallenged truths, when the seed of Krypton was widely sown.

The other father was Jonathan Kent, a human, and of the school which instructs you to hide whatever makes you special and different. If you don’t like this, you’re instructed to wait for some vague special, different day which may take 33 years to come, or never come. You don’t make that day come; you just wait for the world to start rotating in a different direction. As a result, young Clark Kent didn’t have a happy childhood. He was told everybody would fear and hate him if they saw how special he was; this was a splendid self-fulfilling prophecy, and we aren’t shown him having any friends. No doubt his parents felt conflicted about that: a normal child should have friends, but what if they found out Clark was not normal but queer.

One gets the feeling that the chances were fifty-fifty between this story of Clark Kent, and the plot of Stephen King’s Carrie.

We don’t see Clark playing with his powers, or using them to help his family. He treats them as a deformity, not as a gift. This is so probably because Jonathan’s twisted morals would have treated their use as cheating and as flaunting one’s shameful difference. Jonathan Kent is the sort of loving, overbearing father youngsters who are different run away from — though usually not to Alaska and similar Chris McCandless-y exiles, but to big cities where differences are appreciated.

Jonathan Kent died like he lived: choosing to widow his wife and orphan his adopted son rather than shame his family by making a fuss.

Clark Kent, or Kal-El, whichever we want to call him, would have his job cut out for him, trying to survive under the looming shadows of these two bad men.

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