Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An In Depth Look at Clana

It’s a pretty well known fact to my youtube subscribers that I am not a fan of Lana, no matter what means of media it may be. Now with that being said, I wanted to take an in depth and even philosophical look at the relationship that is Clana. There is no hate in this blog. It's all just facts and analysis. But if you're a Clana shipper, I suspect you already hate me and no amount of reason could change that. So here we go...

The first time we see Lana Lang, Clark is walking into school and she pops up and he stumbles because she has on her kryptonite necklace. This is one of his first big obstacles in the quest to gain Lana’s affections. Now Lana wears this necklace for a few reasons. She told her boyfriend Whitney that, “So much bad luck came out of it; there can only be good luck left.” The necklace was given to her by her aunt “to remind herself of how much was lost that day.” I always found it creepy that Lana would wear a piece of kryptonite that killed her parents. Who even thought of that when they were collecting debris? You’d think her mom had an actual heirloom that Lana could have worn, but hey! What can you do?

It’s clear that Clark already likes Lana a lot and later in the episode, he is spying on her. He doesn’t really get to have his first real conversation with Lana until after she gives her boyfriend her necklace for good luck and Clark just so happens to meet her in the cemetery.

From then on, Clana was born. I was a supporter of the couple as well. Who doesn’t want the hero to get the girl or for the outcast to get the cheerleader? Who wasn’t upset when Clark didn’t take the credit for saving Lana from bug boy or who selfishly was like “Oh crap! Whitney’s dad died so now Lana has pity!”? It was an endearing story of boy meets girl, who was literally the girl next door, who was also the girl of his dreams.

As time passes by, Lana is painted as a stronger and more intelligent character by the writers as the audience gets to know her better. Lex challenges here business savvy and she ends up with a coffee shop. Lex teaches her some self-defense and then she’s a kick-butt warrior. When she gets hurt and needs physical therapy, Adam Knight challenges her to suck it up and push through her pain to become strong.

Though it was clear that Clark and Lana liked each other, there were still obstacles in their way. One huge obstacle is of course Clark’s secret. When Clark commissions Lana to help with a paranoid Lex and ends up getting stomped on by her horse, she tells Clark that she thinks it would be better for her to stay away from him (which really sparked my dislike of her character). They mend their relationship, but they can never truly be together as long as Clark keeps his alien nature a secret.

In Reckoning, Clark decides to tell Lana everything and he proposes to her. Through a series of events, she dies and Clark begs for Jor-El for a do-over. Despite all reasoning from Jor-El, Clark wants to take the risk and play God in order to save Lana’s life. The day resets and Lana ends up breaking up with Clark because she can tell Clark is hiding things from her and it starts a domino effect of Lana eventually falling into Lex’s arms. But the most damaging thing to come out of this event was the death of Clark’s father, Jonathan. That burden will always weigh on Clark’s shoulders.

By this time, Lana had already began changing into a darker character. She killed some people, committed a few crimes, blackmailed some people, and so on. Then when she became Mrs. Luther, she fit in very well. After finding out that Lex tricked her into the marriage with a fake pregnancy, she got out of the marriage by faking her death.

When she returned in season 7, she was darker than ever. She tried to set up Lex for her murder, had Lionel kidnapped and tortured, started a foundation to spy on Lex, tried to kill Lex, and she hurt Lois and Clark along the way. At the end of “Power” Clark came to a realization that Lana wasn’t the same. Lana told Clark that he had painted an image of her and instead of Clark realizing that he had made a mistake somewhere in the beginning of their relationship, he thought that she had changed and that it was his fault.

Their relationship really hit rocky waters when Clark was replaced with Bizarro and Lana was much happier with Clark not really being Clark. But their relationship didn’t end until Brainiac attacked Lana and placed her in a catatonic state. When she woke up, she made a video for Clark. She had made a completely unselfish decision to let Clark go for the sake of the world. She had been coming to the conclusion that she perhaps wasn’t good enough for Clark, couldn’t meet his standards, and was holding him back from his true destiny.

Then in season 8, it was revealed that leaving Clark was not her noble decision, but rather something forced by Lex. Lana escaped her captors and ended up training and plotting to take Lex’s super suit so she could be on an equal playing field with Clark. It seemed like the perfect end to their relationship. They could both save lives together (though Lana proved kind of useless by not being able to find a gigantic bomb on the Daily Planet roof after looking “all over”).

Then the couple learned the most important lesson they would probably ever learn: you don’t screw with Lex Luthor. Lana has virtually no choice but to absorb a kryptonite bomb, thus making it impossible for Clark to be with her. After a tearful goodbye, they were officially through.

Now I’m getting to the point of my little history lesson. When we first saw Clana, Clark couldn’t be with her because of that piece of kryptonite around her neck. In a very poetic set of events, they had to break up for good because she became a giant piece of kryptonite. Their relationship was really toxic. Though the necklace was sentimental and beautiful and harmless to most everyone, it was potentially fatal to Clark. Now Lana is literally the same thing. I don’t think it’s possible that the writers could have predicted Lana’s departure in such a way since the beginning to make a foreshadowing with her necklace, but the literally merit behind how it all played out is quite impressive.

To understand the true nature behind Clana, I highly recommend reading The Great Gatsby. To make a long story short, Gatsby is a kid who was poor who loved a girl named Daisy. He did whatever he could to gain fortune to feel worthy of her and ended up having grand parties every night with a bunch of strangers who never even met him. The two eventually reunited, but when Daisy needed a scapegoat out of a messy situation, Gatsby was the one who got sacrificed. He couldn’t see that the Daisy he loved was only a dream and reality didn’t smell so sweet. He couldn’t see beyond his image of her. In the end, Gatsby only had three people come to his funeral, and Daisy isn’t one of them.

That’s how I feel about Clark. Lana didn’t date Lex and have something snap inside of her. She was on a long destructive road prior to ever being with him. On so many occasions, he was willing to overlook just about anything. Even though they had rough patches, Lana had to become a physical fatality rather than it being a clean break. He still didn’t want to let her go. He wanted her to stay in his vision so he could at least see her. It would have hindered them both from ever being happy, but he didn't want to let go of that dream.

I also feel in some ways that Clark was bad for Lana. Despite Lana eventually becoming indestructible at the end of her Smallville career, she was sort of always a weak character. She was always holding onto the past, hence her necklace. Even when she turned to drugs to see an image of her parents in the Afterlife, it was all blamed on her break up with Clark. It took her forever to break up with Whitney, even though she knew her genuine feelings. She was going to lose her virginity to Jason to please him, even though he hadn’t pressured her. Even though Lex and Lana fit so well together, she really did play right into his hands.

There were times when Lana has showed strength and great character, so some might be at this point and think I’m being unfair with my assessment of Lana. But my biggest contributing factor is the fact that she got super powers. Yeah, I can understand missing ultimate power after having it, but it was more than that. Lana was already feeling less than worthy in season 7 and she expected that she and Clark could finally be together after gaining super powers. For some reason, she felt like she needed to change to be with Clark. Instead of rising to the occasion internally, she had to do it physically.

One reason why I prefer Lois over Lana is because I can see the maturity that Clark and Lois has had due to being with each other. Lana and Clark always involved one or the other-or maybe both-being held back. Lois can be herself and help Clark be who he needs to be. Lana didn’t feel she was good enough. Clark would have taken her in any way, shape, or form, but it wouldn’t have put him on the correct path.

Clana was a fun ride at first for me and it was enjoyable for others until the end. There are still a lot of fans that will shout “Clana Forever!” for years long beyond Smallville’s reign. But keep in mind that there’s always a reason why Clark and Lana never last and were never meant to be, inside and outside of comics.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Defense of Clois

I don’t mind being called a “shipper” but I wouldn’t refer to myself as one, at least not for Clark and Lois from Smallville. Don’t get me wrong, I love them together. Their chemistry is AMAZING and some of my favorite work from Tom Welling comes from his scenes with Erica. The only reason why I don’t refer to myself as a flat out shipper is because I haven’t dipped into fanfiction and fanart and music videos.

But since I do have a certain fantastically amazing Clois thing prepared for all of my youtube subscribers, I will retract that statement and suck it up: I am a shipper. BUT, I’m not one of the scary ones.

Now that’s settled, let me begin...

There has been some arguments as of late about Smallville and the direction of it. Some comic book loyalists (which I am one) are saying that it’s wrong how much Lois is impacting Clark on his journey to becoming Superman. Some are upset that Clark is prepping to pop the question, which means a potential engagement which leads to inevitable marriage–on or off screen. No one is refuting that Lois is his true love (except for those from the Clana Forever tribe). They just want to see Lois and Clark after he’s Superman.

I totally get that. I completely understand. But–and this is a huge “BUT”–Smallville is well known for taking the comic books, tearing them up, and pasting them back together blindfolded and with silly string. Lois with Aquaman and a deep relationship with Oliver? Kara in Smallville before Superman can even fly? Lois and Clark working at the Daily Planet before Perry White? So many things in this show is dead wrong compared to the comic books! I won’t even bother complaining about the poor misrepresentations of Superman’s villains! Pay a visit to comicbookmovie.com and go to a Smallville article. You probably won’t find one without many “Smallville Sucks” comments.

For any Smallville/comic book fan to enjoy both, there has to be an understanding that Smallville is a different story from a different kind of universe. Jeez, if there’s another “Crisis” it might be Earth-207.5. Yeah, I do get aggravated when Smallville screws something up when it results in something totally useless and idiotic, but they do have a right to change things. Heck! DC Comics changed a bunch of crap. Golden Age, Silver Age...They revamp storylines all the time! So for comic book fans who have managed to survive 9 seasons of inaccurate change, I ask “Why can’t you handle it now?”

Lois is a huge part of Superman’s life. Anyone who reads Superman comics cannot reasonably argue that fact. It’s perfectly reasonable that she would also be a big influence in Smallville. Now as far as being upset that she influences him into becoming “Superman”, take into account that people have been influencing him into this role from the beginning. Of course Ma and Pa Kent helping is comic book consistent and Lana to a point. BUT Chloe is an original character and pretty much runs the unnamed Justice League. It’s not fair to hate on Lois, especially when her real impact on Clark’s life is so monumental.

It might be annoying to comic book fans that he’ll probably end up popping the question before flying, but lets remember that in 1938 when Action Comics #1 debuted, Superman could not fly, but there was Lois Lane.

The other argument is a general one and isn’t necessarily made by comic book fans, but rather just people who watch the show to see Clark fight somebody and use his special effects. I know these people. My dad watches Smallville and stated that he specifically watched the show for those reasons. I’m not sure why. There have been so many times when he’s sat down excited and then when the show came off, he was let down by Smallville’s famed anti-climactic fight scenes. Smallville does deliver on occasion, but I never felt a fight for Clark (because the non-powered girls always had better fight scenes) delivered until the season 9 finale. And in retrospect, his fight with Zod wasn’t that long, but it was more than two punches. My dad was happy though. When Clark punched Zod after throwing Lois, he yelled out “Pow!” on impact. It was like he was a kid.

But anyway, all the love stuff is starting to get on people’s nerves now. It’s season 10! It’s supposed to be the final season! They’ve got to deliver! The only problem with that theory though...is that it’s always been a show with a lot of romance. Way back at the beginning when I was still Team Clana (creepy, I know!) I was rooting for Clark to be there when Lana woke up from that bug cocoon or for Lana to stop taking pity on Whitney and dump him for Clark! I didn’t realize how hot Ian Somerhalder was at the time! Lana was supposed to be with Clark, not that weird Adam guy! Now somewhere between the vampires, drugs, witches, and taking Lex’s clothes off to sleep with him, blackmailing his workers, and the killings...I lost my love for Lana and she became an eternal sting in my eyes. Still, Clark didn’t stop loving her. Even when she liked Bizzaro Clark more, he still loved her. Fake pregnancy, Mrs. Luthor, shady organizations, nearly killing Lex, or lying to her friends never made him stop. Even when she was pumped full of kryptonite, she was the one to walk away!

He was so doe-eyed in love with her that he was mopey and kind of overly pathetic. Eight seasons of that. EIGHT! Now people want to whine about Lois, when they really only have a few scenes per episode. Sure, they are very romantic squeal worthy scenes, but they do not take up full episodes. At least Lois and Clark developed a friendship that grew into love. Clark barely knew Lana in the beginning and he was in love with her from jump! Even Lana acknowledge in “Power” that Clark had painted an image of her. Then he still couldn’t realize that he had falsely idolized her and blamed her dark side on himself!

Some people think it’s too soon for Clark and Lois to get engaged. I don’t understand that thinking. They’ve known each other since season 4. They’ve been friends, lived together, seen each other naked, been falsely in love, she’s done a strip tease, they had an undeniable connection that Maxima pointed out, and Lois admitted that she loved him in “Committed”. And who else ever made Clark smile like that after a kiss when he posed as Green Arrow? They really had a thing in season 8. They were pretty strong in season 9. When you know, you know. What is Clark supposed to do? Shack up for 5 years?

Here’s the truth: Lois and Clark truly have matured one another. Lois has purpose and fulfillment and though she’ll always be blunt and stubborn, she can be tamed. But the crazy thing about it is, that shy boy who was Lana Lang’s little puppy dog just grabbed Lois when he wanted a kiss. Lois was told to shut up when he wanted to dance. He called her out for not sticking up to her father! Clark is so much more man now! Be happy for that.

The final argument is that Lois Lane in general is in too many episodes, and I just have to disagree. Erica Durance is the best Lois to date. She’s been on Smallville since season 4 and her fans have fought for her to be in the full season. They finally got it. And since there’s only 4 regular cast members, I don’t see why Lois on the show so much is a problem, especially with Oliver being so mopey! Sure, they might not always utilize Lois to the fullest potential when they write an episode, but that can be said about any character–including Clark. I thought “Isis” was useless for the most part, I really did. However, that part at the end was gold. Lois is a reporter working in a world where crime happens everyday and she dates a super hero. Yes, there should be plenty or sensible stories for her to fill out a season. Will they always write her in well? They don’t always write in Clark well!

And they did stories focused on Lana, Chloe, Pete, Tess, Oliver, Kara...I just don’t see how Lois centric episodes could be uncalled for after they’ve been so gracious to other characters. Yeah, it’s a show about Clark, but there’s a supporting cast and their lives effect his. If anyone thinks Smallville should only be about Clark, then let’s lock Tom all alone in the barn, let the camera’s role, and see if that episode is worth our attention. Clark can’t do it alone. He doesn’t in the comic books. He doesn’t on Smallville.

But in conclusion, I’d like to point out that no matter how much Lois loved Superman, she always said yes to “Clark Kent.”

I hope my wealth of knowledge and reason eased someone’s mind. If not, at least I finished my rant.