The Clark Kent Effect
The Man of Steel is called to save the day. The citizens praise his bravery and strength. His admirer looks on with doe eyes as she impatiently searches for her co-worker. He arrives as the hero flies away. "How are you always missing?" He coyly shrugs and smiles. The better question is how do you not see he's the same person?
There have been movies and comic books that like to play on dual personalities of characters. Where one person doesn't piece together that their friend or love interest is someone who is a hero or someone whose more than what they seem. I could never grasp that gullibility. I mean, it is obvious. Clark Kent is Superman. The glasses can't be that good of a disguise. It wasn't until quarantine that I can see how someone can be fooled by an accessory.
During the start of quarantine, my office was working on a scattered schedule. On the day I was scheduled to work, an employee that was temping came by the office to pick up his check. He was dressed in a long sleeve and wearing a tube face bandana. He asked for my Manager, and rightfully so, I asked, "Who's asking?" A co-worker recognized him, but I didn't and felt completely shocked and sorry.
Immediately, I began thinking of the song "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None The Richer and the conversation I had earlier in the year with co-workers. We reminisced about 90's Rom-Com, particularly; She's All That and sharing the same consensus: How do you not see that they are the same person?
If you're not familiar with this movie, Freddie Prince Jr. makes a bet with the late Paul Walker's character that he can turn any ugly duckling into a prom queen. Enter Rachel Leigh Cooke, whose beauty is seen on the night he comes to take her out, and he's in awe. Really?! This is what always made me laugh in frustration. I have the beautify myself for you to acknowledge me? Do I have to be heroic to draw your attention? This is dubbed the Clark Kent Effect: where an item as simple as glasses can make a person unrecognizable.
I never believed that this sort of phenomenon could work. I mean I have worn glasses my whole life. It wasn't until my Senior year in High School because of prom that I wanted contacts. In no way with my year supply of contacts did anyone not recognize me. I looked different, sure. People weren't used to seeing me without glasses, but they still knew it was me. Maybe that's the trigger. You're so accustomed to seeing someone in one frame of light that when you see them under a different light, it's either an unwavering or ecstatic feeling. For me, it was a negative reaction, for the Freddie Prince Jr. and Lois Lane, it's positive. Without the accessory of glasses, the world around these fictional characters become more inviting.
In the times we are in now, there are people, friends, and family when in public and they are wearing masks, you might recognize them. There might be a slight hiccup in registration, but you can put two and two together. It's like the male friends that haven't shaved or had their hair cut in months and are just straight wolfing it. It's a shock, but you still know who they are. Then they are those that are unrecognizable. Your defensive guard goes up, like the Temp asking for my Manager. During that occurrence, I went full curiosity mode with questions like, "Who are you?" and "What is this regarding?" My attitude toward this worker that I see almost every day changed just because of his mask, much like the demeanor of Lois Lane and Freddie Prince Jr. when seeing the alter of their interest.
So, the next time you watch or read about a superhero and the concept of the protagonist not being recognized by the people in their lives seems ridiculous; it may not be so far-fetched.
Enough much his recognize laugh. Care meet throughout hotel officer effort.
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Just an introvert sharing her thoughts and interest with the world