Monday, April 18, 2011

Smallville - The Kent Farm

I continued to watch Smallville all these years because I realized that the way to look at it was as a reinterpretation of the Superman myth instead of as some kind of prequel that shows what happened before he became Superman. When viewed this way, it really opens up the show for you. It's almost like an Elseworlds story, which usually are the best Superman stories anyway. So, I've been able to accept all the little things everyone has griped about over the years. I did tune out for all the soap opera like back and forth with Lana in the middle seasons, but that's another issue. Superman myth wise, though, this latest episode, so close to the end, did something I find a little problematic. He's selling the farm to move to Metropolis.

To me, this is a much bigger departure than meeting Lois when he's a teenager or Chloe or Green Arrow in terms of changing who Superman is. I get that the idea is that he is letting go of his past to become a man and Superman. They go to great lengths in the script to point out that things and places aren't memories and that Clark is Clark with or without the farm. That he is the man Pa Kent raised to be. Those are all great ideas, but they miss the mark in this case. A big part of Superman's heroism is that he'd much rather be on that farm than anywhere else, but he chooses to go to Metropolis so he can do the greatest good. He doesn't leave the farm because it's the best thing for him as a person to let go of the past and grow up. His reasons for leaving are beyond his personal growth and are not about letting go of anything. As a matter of fact, he goes back to the farm whenever possible. He chooses to be human and the farm is the symbol of that choice of his humanity. He has his Fortress of Solitude, and I would argue the farm is his Fortress of Humanity. For him to sell the farm lessens his grounding to his humanity. In the case of Superman, the farm is not "just a farm."

The farm is a touchstone, not just for Clark, but for everyone around him. It's a place where all the insanity of the suprehero life can be left behind. To end the series by discarding this, I think, sets Superman on the right path for the wrong reasons. Without the farm to go back to, there's nothing to remind him of why he does what he does in the first place. And with all the other heroes that Smallville has introduced, the same will apply.

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