Jeff wrote a better summary of my post yesterday than I could- check out his blog for other good thoughts in a similar vein as my own:
“What a great observation you imply here:
Alien films are really a litmus test for how we answer three questions:
A) What kind of universe do we live in (i.e. Is it basically hostile, basically kind, or basically
B) How should we react and interact with the universe?
C) What if our answer to A) is not in synch with our answer to B)?”
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Day Three: The Man of Steel and The American Way
Does anyone else find it ironic that primary defender of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” is from beyond the stars? Sure, he looks like us, and as Clark Kent he can hide among us as a mousey reporter, but the reality is- Superman is not from ‘round here. He’s an outsider for a distant planet.
He’s an alien. He’s Kal-el. And yet, he’s tasked with defending the American Way?
Isn’t that odd?
Well, let’s think about The American Way for a bit and see if there’s a way to reconcile this. The American Way and the American Dream are traditionally used interchangeably. To some degree, they both mean that no matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve got a chance to make a difference. You’ve got the same chance as everyone else, to become what you want through your own work, by your own means- no matter who you are or where you’re from.
With this definition in mind, it could be argued that Superman is literally the actualization of the American Way. As an alien, he knows better than anyone what it means to be an outsider, making his way in a world that’s unfamiliar territory. Sure, he’s able to use his innate abilities to become the greatest hero and defender of all time, but that doesn’t subvert the fact that he’s not human.
Interestingly enough, it’s probably the fact that he’s not “one of us” that makes it so meaningful. Had he been the kid down the street- a true all American Boy- it wouldn’t be a story that resonates so strongly with us.
After all, consider that Superman was created in a country of immigrants. Even last year (2008) over a million people were naturalized as U.S. Citizens. In fact, some studies show that immigration is the only thing that is keeping our country’s population from shrinking now that the average U.S. family has decreased to 1.93 children. Immigration is the foundation of our country and the backbone on which we’ve thrived. The one thing that most of us have in common is that our family trees are rooted on some other continent.
We’re all from somewhere else.
Which could be a reason why we don’t even think about Superman as an alien until we’re forced to. He seems like a regular guy who happens to be super powered rather than some humanoid life form from another planet. Sure, some of it is due to the fact that he looks just like us, talks just like us, and has adoptive parents from Kansas. But it’s more than that.
Perhaps he is just like us. After all, we’re all aliens in some respect.
Nathan Key likes to think about faith and philosophy and talk about it with others. He lives with his family in New Hampshire. He doesn't always refer to himself in the third person.