I decided to write about the very popular show called Smallville. This show is a revisiting of Superman’s childhood. Wildly popular with younger kids and young adults, this show illustrates popular media’s view of the young adults, or Twixters, as Grossman terms them. The show takes place in Smallville, a small town outside of the fictional city “Metropolis.” The series follows Clark Kent, or Superman if you live under a cultural rock, and his close circle of friends as they overcome a series of incredibly unrealistic plotlines. Granted, I should not focus on any plot elements as this is not a review of the actual show; more of a review of its cultural relevancy to today’s Twixters.
With over one hundred and fifty episodes, this show must have a wide fan base. Yet, from my experience, it offers nothing but hackneyed platitudes. The show, in the beginning, hinges on the dichotomy of Good versus Evil through the form of Clark versus Lex Luthor’s father. Mr. Luthor, whom is a business tycoon of epic proportions, is the arch-enemy for most of the beginning of the series. Moreover, it is not just the evil father figure that is “bad.” It turns out virtually every adult is evil at heart – at least in Smallville. In episode two, entitled “Hothead” a coach gains a pyrokinesis and instantly abuses that power. In episode six, called “Hourglass” an elderly man gains his youth back and instantly goes on a rampage against the youth of Smallville. Obviously, I am using the term “evil” loosely because everyone has a different definition of ultimate evil. When I use the term, try to envision a traditional “villain;” however you would chose to visualize that picture.
Not only is it any adult who is bad, ones that we would normally trust are as well. Illustrated in episode forty-three, “Calling” wherein a renowned doctor, who has undergone years of vigorous mental training, gains superpowers and… You guessed it – instantly abuses them. As well as episode ninety-six “Solitude” in which a trusted professor deceives Clark for his own selfish gain. Even as far as episode ninety-nine “Lockdown” where the town’s law enforcement shows himself to be “deranged” and kidnaps some children. And people wonder what the appeal of being a Twixter is…
Much later in the series; even Clarks own biological father, Jor-El, turns out to be evil. This idea alone illustrates the shows ideals. It seeks to identify with young adults who see their own parent figure as overbearing and at worse “evil.” Jor-El, in this series, is actually the worse enemy for Clark, he has “more power” and “more influence over the world” as well as “more understanding” of Clark himself. All of which he holds over Clarks head, much like the dagger of damocles. Ignoring the fact that this is, in spirit, just a television show. We can focus on what this means to young adults, or more specifically, Twixters. The parental figure is one to be feared, because it is superior to you in all aspects, how can one hope to compete against that? Now, many of us know that our parents are not omnipotent and hopefully, have our best interest at heart. However, when viewing these situations in this show, you are not confronting your actual parents; you are confronting the shadow of your parents. This shadow is the imaginary, darker, version of them from your own conception.
Your father may not be able to fly or have superhuman strength. Yet, he just might have when you were younger. Perhaps your fond memories (or other kinds) weren’t just made from the safe stable environment they provided; perhaps they were really inspired from supernatural circumstances! At least, that is what your overactive subconscious is yelling at you while you watch this show. All of this just plays out in the normal Twixter’s mind as he views this show, and ones like it.
In virtually every episode of Smallville, the adult represents a threat to their way of life. Threatening them with physical and emotional trials that the main characters feel are undeserved. Not only that, but each adult also turns out to be “beyond saving.” Each and every “adult” that gains a superpower abuses it, as if to say, “No adult can handle the powers of a child.” Meaning, if you are an adult – you cannot have superpowers – even if you did, you would see yourself become the villain.
This assumption cannot carry much weight, in respect to this show, because the unspoken premise is that it will end when Clark moves out of his parents. When Clark moves to Metropolis and gets a job at the Daily Planet; this is where the Superman comics (and movies) begin. So, Smallville cannot continue into the adult world of Superman, it is permanently stuck in the young adult years. Admittedly, this is not the worse fate for a young adult. I am sure that even with all this negative coverage of the Twixters, many Twixters would not live their lives any other way, for the time being.
I was not surprised in the least when I heard they were making a television series about Superman’s high school years. In America, high school is filled with the full range of emotions. Many of which are good memories, many not-so-good as well. With the prevalence of Teen-dramas on television it is no wonder one of them happened to be on the superhero bandwagon. Comic book heroes and villains should still be in the cusp of the Twixters memory, ages twenty-two through twenty-nine, were still exposed to comic books as young children. I, myself, was raised on the stories of Thor and his nemesis Loki. Still waiting for that movie… Closest thing so far is Adventures in Babysitting. I think I’ve shown my age too much. I also theorize that more and more Twixters will hide their age, in order to avoid adulthood a little longer.
I am not alone in my theories on the Twixter generation. In January of 2005; Kay R. Daly wrote a response to Grossman’s article. In the article she praises the parts she likes, and disagrees with everything else Grossman has to say. I’m sorry, for a moment there I was not being biased against an opposing view, close call. Let’s direct quote Miss Daly: “In fact, there some arenas, in which liberals have made tremendous strides without Republicans taking too much notice.” (Daly 1) This is in her opening paragraph, where she bluntly describes Republicans as conservatives and everyone else liberals.
I do not think your audience got the message Miss Daly, can you be a little more overt about your posturing? “And while conservatives weren’t watching, the liberals have almost completely dominated child-rearing philosophies today.” (Daly 4) Ah, that clears it up. You should visit this article, perhaps just to see her picture – even her picture pisses me off. Here is one of her “simple rules” to help your child not be a Twixter:
“First-time obey. When Mom or Dad asks their child to do something, there should be no whining, back talk or discussion. Promising Consequences after multiple violations of requests give children a sense of inconsistency and they end up disrespecting parental authority. They obey. Preferably with a cheerful “Yes, ma’am” or “yes, sir.” Non-negotiable.” (Daly 10)
“Sleeping through the night. Rather than running to them with a bottle or a breast every time they whimper, get to know what their cries mean. Are they too warm, too cold, gassy, getting sick, wrapped too tightly in a blanket, enveloped in a dirty diaper, teething or bored? What are the actual signs of your child’s hunger?”
While these may help while raising children you do not care for, I believe these will emotionally cripple some children, when coupled with her other suggestions.
What is my point with all these lengthy quotes? Well I hate Daly for sure. Seriously, it shows that there are a wide and varied amount of approaches to raising children, some of which mention Twixters. You should raise your children with your own experience, if being a Twixter works out for you; pass it on. If being a Twixter was a terrible experience; steer your children with a whip like Miss Daly envisions. Either way, do not let biased media coverage, in the form of articles or even television series; distort your own path, which you yourself have tunneled. If you are still disheartened, please take solace in the fact that no previous generation defines your actions. No longer the “slacker generation,” we are gaining the notoriety that previous generations strived for. Built from the experiences that other generations fought for, we must continue the fight for the next generation.
The Aims of Argument. Ed. Channell, Carolyn and Timothy Crusius. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
Grossman, Lev. “Grow up? Not So Fast: Meet The twisters”. The Aims of Argument. Ed. Carolyn Channell and Timothy Crusius. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. 537-45.
GOPUSA. “It’s a Matter of Parenting: The Twixters”. GOPUSA.com
A Division of Endeavor Media Group, LLC 2008. Accessed July 30th, 2008. http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/kdaly/2005/krd_0118.shtml.
TV.com. “Smallville”. CNET Networks, Inc. 2008. Accessed July 30th, 2008.