There is one thing we can all agree on, whether you believe Supergirl to be a problematic show or not – sometimes I think it’s really messed up, sometimes I enjoy it. Kara Danvers is a role model to women everywhere. But the reason why I love her is not her superpowers. It’s what she does as a journalist.
Before we get into that, I want to express my opinion on the show as a whole: I really think the writers pander themselves on its easy, white feminism, striving to prove how being a ‘girl’ is just as okay as ‘man’. Their flaunted girl power makes me cringe most of the time.
But I also realize how important it is for little girls to see a female superhero on television. I cosplayed as Kara Danvers at a con last year – simply because it was an easy costume to make. But let me tell you, dozens of five-to-ten-year-olds pointed at me screaming ‘it’s Supergirl!’ in excitement. Boys and girls were throwing their fists into the air and asking me to take pictures with them, and I understood one thing. Not everyone is always going to analyze everything.
For some people, television is just entertainment, and for all its problematic aspects, Supergirl is an iconic show. It did pave the way for female superheroes. I didn’t even know a female superhero existed until The Avengers introduced me to the Black Widow, and I was already grown up by then. At least, in its own superficial way, Supergirl is representation. It may be unperfect, but it’s better than no rep at all.
Once we got that out of the way, I have to say that Supergirl inspires me for so much more than her x-ray vision and frost breath. She inspires me with her uncompromising sense of justice, and her steel will do to good.
It’s not only through her superpowers that she spreads truth and justice. She decided to work for the people in her ordinary human job as well, through her writing career. Her choice to explore a new path for herself and become a reporter gave me the confidence to admit that I wanted to be a journalist too.
Now, I’m willing to extend my suspension of disbelief from her superpowers to the fact that she instantly became an ace reporter in the matter of an episode. In the show canon, we don’t even have evidence that she went to college and studied anything relevant to journalism, or that she even had an interest in writing, prior to the episode when she is offered the reporter job. If we manage to overlook that just as we overlook her inhuman speed, Kara’s arc as a journalist is extremely inspiring.
At one point, she is forced to make a decision between what is right and what is easy: her boss tells her she will be fired if she publishes a particular piece of information, but she goes ahead and sends the article anyway. She loses her dream job, but she knows that telling the truth without withholding anything is more important. In the end, that particular article gives her more fame and recognition than any other, along with the deep respect of her readers. Even in her incognito persona, Supergirl is still making a difference for the best in the world.
People complained that not having a job was an unfeminist act on Kara’s part because she was content with saving the world AND having a boyfriend for a couple of days. But the way Kara lost that job was brave and selfless, not weak or in any way reinforcing the patriarchy. She was looking out for the people in her city with her very human talent for writing, in the same way she does when she’s punching evil aliens.
As Kara says, “Being a reporter is about connecting with people, about finding hidden truth and sharing it with the world, it’s about service, and telling stories that need to be told in order to make the world a better, more comprehensible place. And it’s going to make me the best version of myself because it will definitely push me out of my comfort zone.”
Supergirl is right. Writing can be difficult, challenging and intimidating, and it should be hard. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. It creates bonds, it requires a deep understanding and a stark sense of right and wrong. It’s not easy to keep a tight ethic in journalism, but doing it makes you a better person. Almost a superhero.