Clark Kent Quits the Daily Planet. Read: Superman Can’t Save Newspapers.
When the Man of Steel can’t save the newspaper business, is there any hope for the real Daily Planets of the galaxy?
In the latest issue of DC Comics’ Superman, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, quits the Daily Planet in a huff, but not before channeling an Aaron Sorkin sermon to the newsroom about the coarsening of journalism’s once-noble ideals.
“I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers,” Kent says. “ … But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can’t be the only one who’s sick of what passes for the news today.”
Jerry Maguire, Norma Rea, meet Clark Kent. Who knew?
Kent’s defection underscores DC Comics’ effort to modernize the Superman franchise, launched in 1938. Since nobody under 50 reads newspapers, it was decided that Kent’s storyline had to evolve to attract a younger audience. Next stop for Kent, most likely, is the blogosphere.
Imagine the possibilities. Away from the drippy trio of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and Perry White every day in the office, Kent could reinvent himself as a cyberspace stud—the Metropolis Metrosexual, perhaps. Even Lex Luthor would swoon.
And when duty called, Kent/Superman wouldn’t have to find a phone booth (remember those?) as a changing room for his crime-fighting outfit. Instead, he could slide into his bootylicious tights within the comfort and privacy of his own home. Or wear them all day, if the mood strikes.
In his heart of hearts, however, Clark Kent is a newspaperman. After all, he’s been at it for 74 years—a Superman-worthy maneuver, given that Kent is only 27 years old. He broke into the business at the Daily Star, which two years later became the Daily Planet.
A short stint as a local TV anchor in the early ’70s was mercifully short-lived. No surprise there; anchoring requires a personality. Faster than a speeding bullet, Kent was back at the Planet, covering his beat: Superman. Which, when you think about it, is enough to make even a superhero schizophrenic.
Clark Kent needs the camaraderie of the brick-and-mortar Daily Planet, whether he admits it or not. He needs Lois Lane’s putdowns and Jimmy Olsen’s adulation and Perry White’s “Great Caesar’s ghost!” tantrums. They all feed different aspects of Kent’s conflicted personality.
Kent’s “access” to Superman is the key to his street cred, and he knows it. Without it, he’s just another schmuck print journalist in blue jeans. But given that he is Superman, Kent is caught in an emotional checkmate either way. He’s Hamlet with a reporter’s notebook. He can’t win.
Nobody would blame Kent for grabbing a lifeboat from the Titanic. At 27, he’s not ready to be a dinosaur. Point taken. But speaking as a proud dinosaur and Superman fan, I, for one, will miss seeing him at the Daily Planet.
On another level, his exit holds a deeper meaning. When Superman gives up on print, there is only so much mere mortals can do.