The Ugly Truth About Superman Is…
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a-polished-end-product-that-has-resulted-from-millenia-of-evolution-ingenuity-and-decades-of-nurtured-upbringing.
No one wants to know the ugly truth about Superman
As far as popular culture examples go, there are few bigger examples of the Iceberg Effect than Superman.
What we see – the 10% of Superman above the surface
We look up to the sky, see a muscular alpha-male, gloriously dressed in blue and red. The cape is flapping emphatically in the wind, the hair slicked back.
Whenever there’s trouble, he’ll swoop in and save the day. He is the end product, a finished article, a figure of perfection. Or so we think.
What we don’t see – the 90% beneath Superman’s surface
Time for the truth. Time to expose Superman. The jig is up.
Firstly, how many names does he go by? Superman, Clark Kent, Kal-El…
Kal-El, his birth name on Krypton, symbolises something: his abilities didn’t just come out of thin air, he wasn’t born perfect. He was crafted and moulded over generations of evolution on his home planet.
Then, Clark Kent
Saved from Krypton by his birth parents, he gets taken in by the Kent family in their hometown of Smallville. He grows up Clark Kent – despite his supernatural background, he resembles a human physically, and he certainly does infancy and adolescence as awkwardly as the rest of us despite his biological advantages.
He gets nurtured by the loving Kents. He comes to them with Super potential, but they add the man. Despite his potential, he takes his sweet time about saving the world… something like 20 years in fact.
So he is not just Super. He is not just man. He is Super + Man. He looks like an overnight success when we see him in the sky, but he is anything but. He is millions of years in the making.
He looks like a better version of us, but despite all his biological and environmental advantages, he still can’t overcome Kryptonite.
Superman, you’re not so perfect after all.
The myth of the overnight success story.
What were you doing when you were sixteen? Hanging out at shopping centres and playing Call-of-Duty?
Well, Jessica Simpson had a record deal. Feel bad yet?
Though, Simpson didn’t just drop out of the sky at age sixteen, a young beauty and singing prodigy. Five years earlier she was brought to a voice coach, Linda Septien, who saw her potential. But
Her voice was too churchy (her Dad was a minister)
She had a vibrato, which meant she wasn’t controlling her chords properly. The muscles needed to be trained.
She had no emotion, no feel.. She lacked expression in her singing.
And then there’s Septien, the coach.
Septien had her own up-and-down singing career. It took her years and years of note-taking and steady observation to develop the level of detail required to guide Simpson, and then future stars the least of which includes Beyonce Knowles.
There are no overnight successes.
Behind every superman, there is a Clark Kent.
Remember too, “Simplicity is the end result of long, hard work, not the starting point” – Frederick Maitland.
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