I’ve been watching Smallville Season 4 for the last little while, it’s taken up the greater part of my free time in the last 2 days because of my sickness. If you plan to watch Smallvillle and haven’t seen up to Season 4 yet, then I warn you– there may be some spoliers in following part of this post.
Chloe Sullivan is one of my favorite characters in the DC universe. She only exists in Smallville as far as I know, but her character is so memorable that when one of my close Korean friends asked me to give her and English name, after only a little deliberation, that was the name that came up (크뢰). I’m not sure if she’s as interesting past season 4 since this is far as I’ve seen so far, but really, I think she, along with Lionel and Lex Luthor, are pretty much the ones that carry the series for me.
Side note: The fact that the actress for Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk?) is playing Chun-Li in the new street fighter movie kinda disturbs me, because from Smallville, even though Lana is the primary love interest of Clark, I just find that she’s a whiny bitch with no character of her own. Except that she’s good at whining and feeling sorry and being victimized. Which isn’t much of a character at all. I’m not sure how different Kreuk is from Lang, but I should hope that at the very least when the Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li does come to Montreal, Chun-Li’s isn’t the same as Lana Lang. That said, I don’t expect all that much because, lets face it, there hasn’t been a single street fighter movie or anime as far as I’m concerned that was any good. HOWEVER, Capcom did produce Resident Evil movies which were, in my opinion, great surprises (cept maybe the 4th one).
Anyway, where was I? Right. Chloe.
What makes Chloe interesting, and indeed, attractive in the series, is the drama and tragedy that is her life. She’s hates the Luthors for the death of her father (and it just so happens that the love of her life, Clark Kent, is best friends with the heir to the Luthor empire). She has to deal with the fact that Clark doesn’t ‘like her in that way.’ She also has to deal with the fact that she’s supicious of Clark’s secrets and constantly feels hurt that he doesn’t trust her with them, despite all they’ve been through together. In my opinion, the only thing that keeps her sane is her work as the high school’s top reporter, and the fact that Smallville has enough freaks and murders to fuel that work. During downtime, I think that she’s actually quite sad– and I don’t mean that she lets on that she’s sad very often. I mean, if you looked at her situation, you’d just say: man, her life kinda sucks in some ways.
Basically, Chloe’s in love with Clark Kent. Clark hasn’t revealed his special abilities to any of his friends (‘cept one guy who’s no longer on the series), but Chloe, being the smart type, adds 1 + 1 together and eventually figures out that Clark isn’t your ordinary farmboy.
One of my favorite episodes is one where Clark suddenly loses his memory due to the attack by the special amnesia inducing powers of another Smallville special powered youth. Due to the amnesia, Clark forgets pretty much everything; his name, his family, his friends, and even whatever he knew about his powers. Chloe finds him first and realizes something is totally wrong.
Up until this day, Clark has always been very careful about hiding his powers in public– especially from his friends– but since he doesn’t remember having powers (he doesn’t even remember his own name) he literally doesn’t know his own strengths. When Chloe takes him home, for example, he accidentally tears his front door off and pitches it into the yard. Chloe isn’t surprised, but needless to say Clark, who thinks he’s a normal highschooler, sure is speechless. The entire day, Chloe basically takes it upon herself to cover for Clark, helping him to keep his powers a secret. You know, for all those reasons that superheroes need to keep their super abilities secret.
“I don’t get it. If I have these amazing powers, why don’t I just tell everyone?” Clark had asked, while he had amnesia.
“Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves… Well, it’s probably to protect yourself.”
“I just don’t get why I needed to keep this a secret. If people don’t accept me, that’s their problem– And besides, you seem to be fine with it.”
Chloe is taken aback.
“I don’t know why,” admits Chloe, stammering, “but you’ve kind of taken it upon yourself to be Smallville’s secret protector. Maybe that’s why– not for you, but for everyone else.”
At the end of the day, he gets his memory back– however, he doesn’t remember what happened in the last 24 hours. So, he doesn’t remember losing his memory, or anything he did while he had lost it, including that he revealed his powers to Chloe, or had that heart to heart conversation about the whole nature of keeping secrets. Ironically, despite hating Clark for keeping secrets at the begining of Season 4, by the end of it in this episode, during his amnesia, she was the one explaining to him why it’s important to do so.
Chloe kind of thinks it was perhaps one of the best days of what she sees as a slightly awkward relationship with Clark– because for once, he was totally honest with her. It was the first time that he’d revealed his powers to her directly. And in my opinion, it take a lot of character for her to not take advantage of Clark when he was so impressionable, especially since she’s still in love with him. All it took was some temporary amnesia for him to forget why he was keeping all those secrets, and just revealing pretty much everything to her. He had to trust her totally for a day because he didn’t know what else to do.
At the end of the day, they’re talking together, after Clark gets his memory back. As far as he knows, Chloe has no idea that he has super powers, although in reality, at this point, she knows more now about Clark than he ever trusted her with prior to the amnesia incident.
“Did I… do anything strange? While I lost my memories?”
“You know what the amazing thing is?” asks Chloe, rhetorically. “You could have started all over, but in the end you decided to do everything exactly the same. You made all the same choices. Except one thing.”
“You trusted me,” she smiles with the ironic, bittersweet look that defines her tragedy. And the episode fades out.
He’d never know how much that day meant to her, probably. And she, being who she is, would keep that secret for him; or maybe for herself? It’s just … tragic.
And this is what I call the “big red button” idea. Sorta like a nuclear switch. Whenever I mention it is a time in life where I wonder, what would it be like, if you could wind back time, and maybe go another route? I call it the “big red button” because I liken it to nuking my world. If I chose to go back in time, everything from then up until now simply dies. Can I live with that? Not just undoing all the terrible things that gave me character, but all the great things as well? Not just the terrible things that people have done to me or that I’ve done to them, but the great things that they’ve done to me and that I’ve done to them as well?
Maybe I’ve already been given a chance to hit that big red button– maybe right now, I am living in an alternate present, which is happening because a future me decided “this is too much” and when he is given the chance to wind back time: he takes it.
But I’d never know, would I?
Which is the paradox of the “big red button,” that famous question that comes up in so many conversatins: “If you could, would you do it any differently?”
The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if I can’t take my stories with me.
What is it all about, if not our identities as characters, for better or worse?
And yet, even that is a really romantic idea, really. I’d like to say that struggle and all that bloody, sweaty, teary stuff is good for character, it’s good for story– Yes, but perhaps in fiction. Drama and tragedy is great to keep us captivated– but in real life, nobody wishes for that kind of stuff. At best, we set our goals and accept that hard times will befall us as a result of our decisions– but I don’t think that anyone purposely really puts themselves in tight situations just for the sake of being in the tight situation. We grow automatically by setting goals, because once you do that, you will automatically run into obstacles based on where you are relative to where you want to be. If you simply looked at an obstacle without hoping to gain anything, some sort of higher, longer term goal or some some sort of self-improvement that you could somehow cross-apply to the rest of your life, well… You’d be purposely suicidal. People don’t go to war because they like getting shot at. People don’t go from door to door trying to teach you about Jehova because they enjoy getting doors slammed in their faces. People don’t train in sports so they can hurt themselves. People don’t become firemen because they like getting burned. Nontheless, all those inadvertant truths about those professions ultimately lead to the formation of character. All that drama, all that tragedy and hurt, it makes you stronger. If you just did something that hurt you for the sake of hurting yourself in itself, if you didn’t believe that it would make you stronger in some way, you’d be suicidal.
Ah, but you see: here’s the mysterious part. Some people do. Some people take a length of rope, wear it like a necktie, get up on a chair, tie it to a light fixture and then climb up on a chair (maybe even a stool will do, assuming you don’t have long toes). And then they just shuffle a bit, and that’s that– they have, purposely, put themselves in a tight situation. And in their opinion, the result of this is better. The goal in this case isn’t to become stronger– but perhaps to end the inescaple weakness.
Is there a difference between fiction and reality?
Of course there is.
And the thing is, people really do get hurt in the real world. And they get hurt in ways that there is no strengthening, there is no benefit– there is only hurt. The events that lead to this kind of hurt, I can only describe them as a departure from humanity.
I love the drama, in fiction, and in reality, because it’s what gives my world flavor– but, the difference is– for the most part, my drama has the safety on. I was just lucky I grew up where I did when I did. That had nothing to do with any action on my part, unless you believe in karma, and because of it– my brand of drama, what makes my life worth living despite all the ups and downs, is a lot more safe than that of some people. Take for example someone who just is born and dies within days. That kinda tragedy– you don’t even have time to get anything out of it.
Reading a biography of Lance Armstrong, I can’t help but admire how much of an asshole the guy sounds like. Sure he beat cancer, he won the Tour De France. But he’s such a braggart about it all.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though– he knows what he’s accomplished, he decided on what he wanted to do, and because of each of his decisions he was presented with obstacles– and he surmounted them. If a man is ever allowed to brag, it’s when he goes through some crazy ass drama on all levels of tragedy and hurt and still gets to where he wants to be. There are people who try to do this everyday with more mundane things– and it is not that Armstrong is more heroic than they.
You could be a janitor, you could work at McDonalds, you could be homeless. You can still be a hero in some way.
To me, biographies like this are to remind us that things are possible.
As much as a story about an office worker who manages to unjam a printer might be more relevant to me than having one of your friends die in a high speed peloton’s decent of a sharply curving mountain stretch in Italy, I need to set the bar higher when it comes to my entertainment.
I resent the fact that “entertainment” always has such a stigma of childishness attached to it. One of the most dangerous things is boredom. One of the most dangerous things is also love. Where does entertainment fit into that spectrum, do you think, despite the way that we like to use those words? What does it mean to ‘live hard, play harder’?
Drama, tragedy, hurt, that stuff makes us strong– and I feel really blessed that I can say that from my perspective, because it means that my life is pretty easy, relatively speaking.
“If it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger” right? An exercise science teacher once wrote “This is not an advisable training maxim” on my term paper. Well, to a certain extent– There are plenty of things that don’t have to kill you– there are things that may make you wonder of dying is actually the best option.
But, since I have the luxury, since I had the luck– I suppose all we have to do is focus on the goals, on the things that are good that we want, and then do whatever growing we can from the obstacles, inadvertant or incidental. Is this worth it? As long as I or you can say “yes” about what we’re going through, then we’re probably on the right track.
I’m not encouraging you to do something stupid–
— but, I think we should all appreciate the baggage we carry and the things yet we might add to our collection, because those little stamps in our passports do count for something. I’m not saying that it’s impossible that you’re really, truly fucked up– in that your drama really is the kind of reason to wear an electrical chord necktie– but most likely (statistics mostly are on my side) you’ll survive.
It’s mostly a question of whether or not you keep a photo album or a diary of your travels; in the end, all you have is the story that makes up you. Who else would you expect to be? Who else would you expect people to accept you as?