30 – Tornado Part 1 – Past – Safe

coverblackA road map for breaking down the tornado scene, the dialogue in the station wagon, the implications of “safe”, remarkable parenting, priming and its effects on the present, and a terrible-not-even-close Mark Waid impression.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • Getting your facts straight before judging
  • Why safe is good
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Why Clark’s limits weren’t tested
  • Assuming Superman’s invulnerability
  • Keeping Clark safe from what?
  • Jonathan’s forgiveness
  • What if there was no tornado?
  • What is priming?
  • Ulysses Contract

…and more!

Superman Kryptonite | Darwyn Cooke & Tim Sale
Killing Babies, Saving The World | RadioLab
#Priming | YouTube
The Inquiry | BBC
Confidence Driven Decisions – Peter Atwater | TED
You v. You | RadioLab

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  1. Good episode, looking forwards to next episode taking on the critics more directly.

    Neat Is-that-safe-test. I guess Clark never played football in highschool lol

    • Thanks for listening!

      I admit, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the next episode because there are so many addressable arguments and so many ways to approach the problem, I’m having trouble deciding what’s the most persuasive, entertaining, informative, etc. In one of my older drafts, I had it staged like a court case and playing defense, but that got too bogged down in unnecessary legal doctrines. There’s philosophical and psychological approaches, etc. However, maybe you got the right idea… just take on the criticism directly. I’d still like to weave a theme but don’t know that I have the time or insight for that yet.

      Thanks, it’s a test we see repeated again and again (until the bully scene, but I think there’s a reason for that; Jonathan takes a chance on Clark just as Clark is deciding when to take a chance on humanity). I’m of two minds with football… it can teach Clark so much of the character and skills it takes to be Superman (teamwork, control of power, being in the limelight, etc) but I can understand not wanting to make him a jock when geek culture has inherited the Earth.

  2. One thing I haven’t heard anyone bring up in regard to this scene is the first thing I thought when Jonathan leaves them to go get the dog – he wanted Clark to stay and protect his mother. It seems like a pretty easy and logical Dad calculus: Dad protects everyone, Mom protects little kids, adult kids protect Mom. I mean, you’re absolutely right that he wants to protect Clark and his secret, and, truly, that’s the meta point of the scene. But imagine this scenario – Clark speeds off to save his Dad from the tornado and meanwhile the bridge collapses, killing his mother. As much as Jonathan was willing to sacrifice himself to protect Clark’s secret, you gotta believe he was willing to sacrifice himself to keep his wife and the mother of his child safe as well.

    It’s funny, as a kid (raised on superheroes, of course), and even as an adult, I always figured I’d risk my life to save my parents – they have always been the most important people in my life, even when I didn’t get along with them. But, now, as a father to young children, I would be absolutely mortified if either of my kids risked their lives or safety to protect me. Honestly, I didn’t go through years and years of changing diapers, pushing strollers, midnight feedings, wiping noses, wiping butts, treating fevers, etc, to have my kid die for me to live. That’s not the arrangement. I’ve already sacrificed my health, sleep, sanity, youth, most of my hair, and the proper alignment of my back to get these kids to this point, so giving what’s left of my life for them wouldn’t be that big of a leap. But for them, even as adults, to risk their safety for mine just flies in the face of everything I’ve already sacrificed for them. I’m here for them to live, not the other way around.

    So, as shocking as this scene was to witness for the first time as a Superman scenario, at the same time it made perfect sense from a Dad scenario. I never once questioned why he made that decision. And, not to be a jerk, but I would guess that most people who have a problem with this scene probably don’t have kids. If you meet someone without kids who has a problem with the scene, suggest they just go ask their Dad what he would do and they’ll understand. And clean up that mess, I’m not your maid!

    • Great insights Phil. I will say, however, I did mention that in my first Tornado article published nearly a year go! http://www.manofsteelanswers.com/did-jonathan-kent-die-for-a-dog/
      Here’s the relevant excerpt:

      Why did Jonathan go back instead of Clark?

      The overpass did not represent absolute safety. During a tornado event there is still a certain amount of risk to all those in the proximity. To Jonathan, the most precious thing was his wife (and all the others, including the little girl he handed to Clark) and he’d rather her face that risk with Clark by her side than without. Going for the dog is not a reflection of how much Jonathan valued the dog but how much more he valued Martha (and Clark’s secret). If Jonathan had gone with Martha and Clark was sent, Martha would be unprotected against any of the tornado’s risks and Clark meanwhile risked exposing his secret.

      It’s part of the hypocrisy in criticizing Jonathan for not calculating for maximum utility (as if there was no exigent emergency), by ignoring the utility of Clark’s presence with Martha and the others (failing to do a complete calculation despite doing it from the comfort of home). You point out the selective empathy where they don’t put themselves in the shoes of a protective parent. Great comments!

      • Heh, I should have known you’d covered it. I apologize, I’ve been working backwards through your site since I discovered it a few months ago and I guess I haven’t gotten that far back!

        But literally no one I’ve talked to or any review I’ve read has ever brought it up. It’s like people have these Superman blinders on and they just expect the expected so deeply that they can’t even accept something as logical as a father protecting his family in a situation like that.

        To be fair, that scene seemed deliberately set up to defy expectations – I remember watching it for the first time and feeling that pull in my gut in anticipation of the heroics I was about to witness, and then watching in shock at what happened. But I think that adds to how brave a choice it was and how effective a scene it is. Still, so many can’t forgive “their Superman” for letting that happen. Shockingly, one of them isn’t Mark Waid, so that counts for something I suppose…

        • Yes i agree, the problem is most of the old superman fans( I guess that include the critics and some of the comic writers) do not really accept the new shakeup or new interpretation that being done to superman. They expect superman will always be heroic, hopeful and light-hearted. Most of them felt that man of steel has betrayed the core concept of make superman special. Some of even pointed out that captain america winter soldier is the prefect example of how you reinterpret the classic hero without changing their core concept.

          I guess we will have to see in time whether new interpretation of superman will finally be acknowledge in the future or not.

          For the record I also didn listen finish all the podcast sorry if I missed out

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