Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Social Structure of Krypton

Or why Justin Bieber is a convenient example

By Eilis Flynn

The Hub and I were talking about the social structure of Krypton the other day over dinner.

Yes, we do talk about things other than comic books. We do! But most of the conversation is boring and wholly not appropriate for the Otherworld Diner blog. But how much more otherworld can you get than a conversation about Krypton? The planet, not the gas. (If you don’t want to read about our speculation about Kryptonian culture and civilization, come back next time, when I’ll be writing about the terrible names that parents could bestow on their children, the fruit edition, or the terrible thing that Disney did to John Carter, a very good and fun movie. That mostly takes place on Mars, so that should be otherworld enough without actually being comic booky, although Edgar Rice Burroughs’ work has popped up in the comic books. But that too is another story.)

Anyway, we were trying to figure out what kind of civilization Krypton was while we were waiting for our food to be served. We’re always told that it was advanced, and it was filled with amazing things, and it gave birth to the greatest American of all, but how advanced could it be, when a bunch of politicians on a council (in some versions, a “science council”) rejected and ignored or jeered at a scientist’s warning that the world was going to explode?

In some versions of the story, Jor-El, father of Kal-El, is a top scientist, while in others he’s been ostracized because of his nutty ideas. Most of the versions, though, agree: Jor of the House of El and Lara bundle the baby into the rocket and send him off, leaving the kid when he grows up with serious abandonment issues. In the original version, not only does Kal-El’s parents die when the planet blows up, his adoptive Earth parents die as he approaches adulthood, originally of a quick, mysterious illness. These days, because the writers have their own issues, Jonathan and Martha Kent are either alive and kicking or at least Martha is, which is what they also did for the TV series Smallville.

Anyhow, before anyone brings up the Mayan calendar and our impending doom (isn’t it foremost on your mind? It sure isn’t on mine), I would think that Kryptonian society, and science, and the council and stuff would be advanced enough that a) they wouldn’t have immediately dismissed Jor-El’s claims or findings or whatever, and b) wouldn’t there have been paperwork or lots of evidence that they could have looked at and at least argued about? Think of how much we, in our decidedly non-advanced society and science and non-council (unless we’re referring to something local), argue about much, much, smaller stuff, like bicycle lanes and garbage pickup and even whether Justin Bieber is really a boy.

Yes, that’s right. We can argue the point of garbage pickup until the cows come home but the Kryptonians didn’t talk the point of DOOM until their version of cows came home? How’s that work? What kind of advanced society were they? (And I don’t really care about Justin Bieber. He was just convenient. Sorry, kid.)

Anyway, let’s just summarize here: Kryptonian society (so advanced, apparently, that there was only one culture. That’s pretty darn advanced!) and its science council were too busy arguing about their version of Justin Bieber to pay attention to Jor-El’s concerns about the planet blowing up.

Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I think Jor and Lara did the sensible thing when they rocketed their kid off the exploding world.

Eilis Flynn FESTIVAL OF STARS, finally out in print! Also STATIC SHOCK, available at Amazon, B&N, etc.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Also my twentieth-eighth anniversary. Hurray!