14 April 2006

Aw, shucks

One of the cultural divides between Red and Blue America is that here in Blue America, we tend to be suspicious of anyone who talks entirely without irony, while in Red America folks respect a certain kind of direct sincerity. I confess to being deeply Blue in this regard, but I know that it's really mainly a cultural style thing, as both attitudes have their own pitfalls.

Putting on my ill-fitting Red America glasses for a minute, I couldn't help but be charmed by these life lessons from Scott Cranford, the Official Superman of Metropolis, Illinois.

(Warning to my mother: his spelling is not so super. Don't blame me.)

Here are a few tips I like to remember when portraying the Man of Steel. I find they work pretty well in every day life, too.
  • Stand up strait. Shoulders back!
  • Always be positive. No matter what the situation, find the good in it and concentrate on solutions.
  • Never raise your voice. Calm sets a tone and relaxes people.
  • Treat everyone as equals and expect the same.
  • Believe in the potential of my fellow person and genuinely wish great things for them.

That's from an article where Mr. Cranford describes going on a Goodwill Tour visiting kids on military bases, many of whom have parents in Iraq. On another day, I might be unable to overcome being creeped out by the pro-war boosterism inherent in the project, but my sympathy for those parents' dedication and those kids' troubles trumps that.

And Cranford is a stand up guy for taking on what must be a very, very tough gig. He seems to be up to the job, though: when kids ask him for a demonstration of his superpowers, he has a pretty crafty answer.

I thought back to George Reeves. Unlike other actors who portrayed Superman, he actually made public appearances and met with children first hand as the Man of Steel. He knew the impact the character had and felt a responsibility to find something unique in every child to make them feel special. From him I'd learned that even if I'd met hundreds of children that day, the child in front of me was meeting me for the first time. That lesson kept me going.

When asked to use my superpowers, I'd say, “I promised the Army I wouldn't and when you make a promise you have to keep it.”;

Sounds like he's worthy of wearing the cape, no?

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