American Consequences - January 2018



confused about which “way” to go with it. He gets all his news from wackadoodle websites, alt-right podcasts, and presidential tweets. Therefore, when he flies off to fight villains... “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a blimp... It’s a hot air balloon... It’s...” The villains often turn out to be imaginary. Superman will come crashing through the ceiling of the MSNBC set for “Morning Joe” only to find that Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have pre-taped the episode. Of course, the villains in the original Superman were also imaginary – Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk. But that was in a comic book. Comic books are a medium for idiots. And so is the Internet. Literacy is hard to attain. And we’ve quit trying. Learning to read and write is very difficult. Homo sapiens evolved about 300,000 years ago and for 295,000 years they never wrote anything down. Imagine the inconvenience of their grocery lists. Primitive man had to drag along gnawed mammoth bones, chewed cave- bear fat, and the skulls of his enemies with their brains sucked out to remind him what to shop for. But that was easier than writing a grocery list. And even when people did begin to write grocery lists, in Mesopotamia, in the fourth century B.C., there was no one to read them. Literacy rates in civilizations where written With the spread of reading and writing, mankind’s long journey out of mental darkness began....

Let us consider Superman, his alter ego Clark Kent, and Lois Lane, the woman who loves them both. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the 1930s, at the height of print media’s influence. For Superman to be at the scene and take action against villainy, it was natural for him to disguise himself as mild-mannered newspaper reporter Clark Kent. That’s what newspaper reporters did 80 years ago – be at the scene and take action against villainy (albeit with the power of the press rather than with being faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound). What if Superman were created today? The Daily Planet is long out of business. Clark Kent and Lois Lane are bloggers. They meet in a chat room but never see each other in the flesh (“ITF”). Sometimes Superman will “sext” Lois with pictures of himself posing in his blue jammies, red underpants worn on the outside. And she replies, “LOL,” because Superman has gotten very pudgy sitting at the computer all day. He’s still living at home in Smallville with his adoptive parents, the Kents. He has an apartment in the basement. Due to computer hacking, everybody knows that “Clark Kent” is Superman. Besides, there are no phone booths left for him to change clothes in. (He’s too fat to fit into a phone booth anyway.) And the places where he could change clothes are monitored by security cameras. Superman continues to believe in “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” But he’s

50 January 2018

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