Masks and Capes

Superman exposedIn the old serial Superman, the one with Reeves (either George or Christopher) there was the more interesting and human character of Clark Kent. The later versions have since diminished this character, to make room for all the fake heroics.  The true hero was Clark. He was trying to fit into a world that is larger than himself – for Superman was only a ‘night job’ and did not really connect to people; he was just the one who would smash criminal cars into mountain sides. Superman despite all of his help fighting crime and destroying super-villain strongholds was  The individual who had the true perspective was Clark; humble and cheerful not distant and aloof. Yet there was an interesting paradox problem – Lois was always the skeptic and she would try to find out if Superman was Clark Kent, but as always Clark/Superman always found a way to deceive her… and maintain his mask. The world wanted a Superman but Superman wanted to be Clark.

Yet, Superman continued to put on his mask day after day.  Making the daily or sometimes more transformation to someone he did not want to be.  For if Lois was to ever love Clark she would have to forget Superman.

There is a communication theory (I don’t remember which one, it was years ago) that states at any and every moment we wear a ‘mask’ to fit into a given context. These masks, although necessary, keep the true individual from being seen. So techniques are tried to find out who the real person is.  These techniques are sometimes used in job interviews, but mostly the truth comes out at home.  What we choose to do in the comfort of out dwelling spaces shows the un-masked person.  However (another communication theory) to truly be ‘onstage’ there must be an ‘off-stage’ – there must be a place where we can take off our masks and spend time in introspection.   Hence the home is the place where we can be ourselves (whether we like that person or not). Superman had his fortress of solitude, but Clark had the world.  Clark’s home was with people.  Superman could not just hang out with his buddies, learn from mistakes, nor live in a world of men – he was the distant savior of the oppressed.  Clark however could truly touch people’s lives. The mistake in looking at the life of Superman is wanting to become like the man of steel rather than a true man.  Superman wanted to be Clark, he never wanted to just be above the people – he wanted to be with the people.

It is almost like this, but more serious.

We must remember that when we take off out masks we are vulnerable (no longer Supermen) but we become real.


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