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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Superman for president

I saw the new Superman movie not too long ago. Not a bad flick overall (I'd give it a B or B-), but one scene in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.

At one point, Superman flies up into the upper atmosphere and just sort of hovers for a moment. Then, you can hear a montage of sounds that suggest Superman can listen in on just about any noise on the continent (random talking, music playing, etc).

Suddenly, he perks up for a moment, then dives down below to the world again, clearly acting on something urgent he just heard. And there he goes, descending on some major American city to help the police stop some maniac with a big gun.

So why does this scene bother me so? Because he's Superman, dammit, and he's wasting his time with one nut who—at worst—is threatening the lives of a dozen people. Is that really the biggest threat to humanity at that time? Is there nothing else Superman can do to save more lives, or improve more lives, or do some lasting good?

Cinematic Superman suffers from what I call "acting small": he can do nearly anything he wants, but besides those days when a real supervillian steps up, he passes his weeks and months saving people one at a time. Thousands of people are being massacred off in Sudan that same day, but Fluffy got caught in a tree in Metropolis, and Fluffy comes first.

So in the spirit of following the game of international power politics, I ask you: if you were Superman and wanted to make the biggest positive impact on the world, what would you do first? Find Bin Laden? Blackmail Bush? Go on permanent tsunami watch?

Think about it.


Anonymous MrIzzy said...

I'd go the route Superman 4 and clear out all the WMDs. Nuclear, chemical, biological: it's all turned into a slag heap or thrown onto the moon. Following that, I'd take armies engaged in genocide or oppression out of the field (i.e. no more airplanes, tanks, armed vehicles, etc.)

Unfortunately, there's only so much one person, even Superman, can do. He can't eliminate the ideas that lead to terrorism, racism, and genocide. You can drop Bin Laden from the upper atmosphere, but that won't stop the hatred he uses to recruit shock troops.

The same goes for natural disasters. Can Superman really prevent another Katrina? The walls gave out, so unless Supoerman is also a tuckpointer, there isn't much for him to do about prevention. And even Supe can't run every person out of New Orleans. The same problems that existed with FEMA and getting people out would still exists (albeit with a little superpowered help). It's not like people had no warning that a hurricane would hit.

I guess my point is that Superman can only affect the physical problems of the world, not the human ones. He can't erase bad ideas or make people care/respond when crisises arise. He's only a man after all.

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

Exactly my point! You ran into the same problem I did: "Superman can only affect the physical problems in the world, not the human ones." So he can take out WMD if he knows where they are, but he can't find all the hidden ones, and he can't take out all the scientists who develop them. And if Superman busts into a nuclear facility in Iran, what are the political repurcussions?

Anonymous P. Pirx said...

How about eliminating "parking boots"? Buck should love it

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