Once, in an R29 news brainstorming session, we were working on a slideshow featuring our, “Biggest Fictional Celebrity Crushes” — but I kept mine to myself. It’d be pretty awkward to talk about a nerdy fanboy crush on a driven female journalist Lois Lane with a room full ofdriven female journalists. More than that, I imagine the driven female journalists who didn’t feel put on the spot might look at Lane as the archetype of the weak, helpless damsel in distress — “Superman’s girlfriend.” See, awkward.
But it’s true: The ambitious, talented, worldly reporter who can reduce the most powerful man in the world to a lump of insecurity has influenced not only how I look at women and what they can do, but what kinds of women I’m attracted to.
I mean, look at her. She’s a preternaturally talented, intelligent, and a somewhat salty woman with a really cool job. It’s true that, at her birth in 1938, being a newspaper reporter was one of the few professions at the time that allowed women to be depicted in popular culture as equal to men. But Lois Lane didn’t only work with Clark Kent atThe Daily Planet, she ran circles around him. I mean, in Max Fleischer’s Superman 1941 cartoon serials, she piloted her own one-seat plane to a remote island to do an interview…with a mad scientist…at his fortress. They don’t teach that in J-School.
She’s sexually liberated, too. Her rejection of the dependable, intelligent, considerate (but unassuming) Clark Kent for Superman — arguably the most sexually attractive person in her world — shows that Lane wasn’t about to accept anything but the very best. She even seemed to relish, at times, the fact that she did more damage to Superman/Clark Kent with a word than Lex Luthor could do with a dump truck full of Kryptonite. Gotta respect a woman who’s out to get hers.
Now, yeah, she’s been a bit — how shall we say — boy crazy for Superman at times. She spent the whole ’60s in the unfortunately titled, Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane fixated on getting Big Blue to marry her (Lane will be getting her own, all-new comic book titled, simply, Lois Lane in 2014). It was a little pathetic.
But that’s just a passing moment — not the full Lois. Nor is the one who’s always getting bailed out by her flying boyfriend. The real Lois has been living in a world dominated by testosterone-filled, muscled super soldiers that was primarily created for testosterone-filled teenagers for 70 years, and rarely, if ever, put up with any crap. It’s impossible to count the number of times she’s stood toe-to-toe with evil demigods, outsmarted criminal masterminds, or returned Superman’s many favors by saving his life. She’s even the first person I ever heard use the word “bitch” (at the end of 1981’s Superman II).
Tough, brilliant, and she does it all with shampoo-commercial-quality hair, beautiful eyes, a sort of Annie Hall-goes-corporate style that’s somehow way more attractive than the metal bikinis and latex pants most of the woman in the comics universe wear, a sense of humor, and a kind, warm heart.
Can you blame me for a little fanboy crush?