Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come.
Somebody save me …
Let your warm hands break right through it
Somebody save me …
I don’t how you do it. Just stay, stay
C’mon I’ve been waiting for you …
The early 2000s were an intriguing time for me. Growing up, I was banned from watching television, due to my over-enthusiasm for copying the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers fight choreography.
My mum, rightly or wrongly, didn’t allow me to watch any TV ever since.
So you can imagine my initial shock at discovering TV shows and how dramatic they could.
Smallville was exactly that.
Dramatic. Fun. Relatable … and crucially … filled with ridiculously good looking people.
It was also the perfect show to watch for a guy who was going through puberty and high school at the same time as Clark Kent was.
I can’t stress that enough. To say that Smallville had a significant impact on me growing up, is to severely underestimate how much of my teenage years were spent watching the show, growing obsessed with the idea of being a superhero and saving my high school crush.
The show is probably the sole reason why I’m such a disgusting Boy Scout when it comes to my moral compass.
It is also the reason why I have such fond memories of early 2000s rock music.
Smallville formed a lot of my values through my teenage years.
I shake my head now, but the episodes where Clark undergoes an edgy transformation due to “Red K” were some of my absolute favourites as the series went on. I wanted to be the darker, more unhinged version of Clark, who just didn’t care about revealing his powers or being a boy scout.
But I knew deep down that I was a lot more like normal Clark.
Shy around the girl he liked, eager to do some good and trying to keep his head above water.
I wasn’t bullied at school, nor was I the most popular guy on campus. I was just another guy.
Which is why I clung onto the idea of idolising Clark. Because he was a pretty ordinary guy, with some extraordinary powers. His dream was to be the popular kid, the guy cool enough to get Lana Lang’s attention and score the winning touchdown at his home game.
I could relate to that. I myself, was hideously shy around the girl I liked, and to my eternal regret, I never confessed my feelings to her for the entirety of high school.
Which is why I vicariously lived through Clark and his now iconic formula of Freak of the Week in which he would engage a new “freak” who was affected by the meteor shower from Krypton, do some amateur sleuthing and save the girl.
All whilst balancing school, friendship drama and trying to hide his secret identity and discover more about his true alien nature.
I remember keenly tuning in every week to watch a episode and experiencing my first real agony over a cliffhanger in which Lana is trapped in her car, with a tornado about to sweep her up and Clark super-speeding over, just in time to see her get tossed into the air.
I couldn’t believe that I had to wait months before I could see what would happen next. I remember being immensely upset and praying there would be a season two.
But I idolised the show. I wanted to be Superman, and have all of his powers. In fact, if I had to pick one from this powerhouse of a hero, it would definitely be his super-speed and for the time, the effects looked great.
In all honestly, looking back, I can’t help but be impressed by the style and production design. Metropolis was all hues of blue and grey, with an emphasis on glass and steel creating a unique look to the city. The Talon, a cinema/cafe complex where a lot of the characters met and worked was surprisingly lived in for what it was.
Then there was the Kent Farm itself, which was an incredible set, that really showed the love and care the Kent family poured into their adoptive son, and was the perfect way to show how All-American Clark really was. I loved the barn’s loft in particular, a prelude to what would be Clark’s occasional need to find solitude.
Hell, I even liked the cheesy look of the Fortress of Solitude and especially the way how the show paid homage to Christoper Reeve in his turn as Superman.
The show had just the right balance of action, romance, adventure and quickly deftly wove all the complex issues that Clark was facing over a season really well.
I won’t lie. Smallville was what started my admiration for America. I don’t think I wanted to move over to America as much as I did whilst watching the show.
I mean Smallville High looked so cool. People my age could dress however they wanted, drive cars to school and do fun stuff like run a student magazine and play girdiron. Then there was the summer break, where you could hang out with your crush, skinny dip in a lake and if you’re lucky you might even get this ridiculously attractive teacher who would hit on you, with her Kryptonian pheromones.
But I want to delve into the more important elements that I got out of the show.
A. American Football
Seeing Clark Kent armour up for his football never failed to get me amped. Especially when the iconic Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. For some reason, I loved the football scenes in the series, because they showcase the moments when Clark is happy, but also restrained, fighting his natural superhuman strength and speed to be normal. All he ever wanted was to be accepted and not feel like a freak and sport gave him that outlet.
In a lot of ways, I echo that. Whether I’m running, playing tennis, go-karting or practising quick-draws, I get that sense of power. I can feel my inner showman come out, and show the world how athletic I am, how coordinated I can be. I get that powerful surge of energy that lets me know, yes everything is working right.
Would I have signed up for the football team if NFL existed down here in Australia? Maybe. I’ve always seen myself as a wide receiver, until recently, when I forgot how much those balls hurt your hands if you catch them the wrong way.
But that was the dream … and it’s more suited to me, because I know damn well, I can’t throw the perfect spiral.
I mimed the hell out of those scenes when I was young and I’m glad I got to taste a little bit of it, when my younger brother bought a football and we got to spend a couple of hours together throwing the pigskin around.
B. American Values
Whilst Clark Kent’s fashion choices aren’t exactly the most forward or dramatic, I did oddly grow an obsession with wearing similar colours.
The iconic Red/Blue combination has stuck with me ever since, with a lot of my gym wear being based around that All American standard. Whilst I know it was an obvious reference to his superhero costume, I liked how casual it looked around Tom Welling’s big frame.
In fact, I can honestly say that almost all the colour in my wardrobe are either bright blues or red, my subconscious still channeling Superman, even when I don’t realise it.
Beyond dressing like an All-American in a town that value black on black and on more black, I took away a lot of Americanisms from the show.
There is something to be said about wholesome American shows that espouses strong morals and deal with such strong American icons. Even the first Captain America film, affected me greatly after watching it. They have this charm and old-fashioned element to them that I appreciate.
I think it is that old-school vibe that I adore. Perhaps one of the worst and best part of me, is that old generation outlook to moral and life. I believe in hard work, doing the right thing and honouring your duty to society.
I harnessed that part of my personality through shows like Smallville and Bones, where all my favourite male characters were that stoic, boy scout character, whose toughness hide a surprising vulnerability.
Call it a cliche, but it was these shows that really taught me how to be my own man and accept the consequences of my own actions.
Perhaps the greatest lesson one can learn from American values is that when you are called upon to do something, you should do it because it’s just the right thing to do.
C. Female Friendships
In the show, Clark Kent is quite the ladies man, the opposite of me in reality, whose luck with women have resulted only in two positive scores.
But what I learned from Clark’s many escapades is the ability to treat a person who you previously had feelings for, with respect and even maintain a friendship.
I struggle a lot with my feelings for the opposite sex. Whilst I’ll explore that in depth later, I will say that for a long time, I’ve always found it difficult to separate infatuation to genuine love and depth of feeling. That struggle has actually lead to a lot of random confessions to friends, which strangely allowed me to move on without regret and still maintain my friendships with my girl-friends.
In a bizarre twist, I would say they even deepened our bond.
What I appreciated about Smallville was the show’s focus on Clark and Chloe’s friendship. There was a lot of reciprocated love between the characters, but it didn’t stop them from being friends. They learned to put aside their feelings, and move on without any malice or regrets.
Whilst this can’t be said for Clark and Lana, whose relationship honestly plagued the show for far too long, I really loved the natural progression of Clark and Lois, whose initial friendship is spiced up with competition and then eventually love.
Seeing how Clark dealt with all three women, and even the fleetingly sweet but dangerous Alicia, taught me a lot about how I wanted to view my own relationships and what I got out of them.
With Chloe, it was a friendship, tested by extraordinary circumstances.
With Lana it was a love story that was far too insecure and plagued with betrayal, deceit and obsession.
But with Lois, there was a friendship first, that blossomed in mutual feelings, something that I understood to be natural, far more trusting and romantic.
I’m thankful to say that my current girlfriend is definitely a Lois type.
Smallville had an undeniably big impact on my teenage years. I grew up alongside Superman as odd as that sounds. Whenever I think back to any big high school moments, I can almost picture the show and how it parallels with mine, only in Smallville, Clark got the girl at the end of prom, whilst I didn’t.
Through a young Clark Kent, I was taught how to not to behave and give in to darker desires, be a honourable man and ultimately grow up and be respectful to everyone around me.
Smallville taught me that you don’t need a dark, tragic past to be a good person. You can just be a good man because it’s the right thing to do.
Clark Kent grew up with the most supportive parents who taught him how to harness his powers for good. He had amazing friends who kept his secret and an incredible woman who understood him for all his flaws and strengths.
I suppose its’ why I always gravitate to these overly goody-two-shoes characters because my life is just like that. I don’t a tragic past and I’m not sure I ever really tried to pretend I ever did.
I’m the sum of a guy who had love and support every step of the way, along with a whole lot of luck and … in all honesty, with all respect to the people around me, I turned out pretty damn well.
Love and support.
Arguably, that is the best superpower to have.