Why is the FBI protecting Superman's civilian identity?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/16/why-is-the-fbi-protecting-supe.html


Given that by this point pretty much everyone in the English-speaking world including people who aren’t into comics know Clark Kent is Superman, I’m going to guess some paper-pusher at the FBI was having a laugh. There’s a lot to criticize the FBI for, including actual over-redacted documents, but this very particular instance seems harmlessly funny.


Can you imagine how soul-destroying it must be to have to go through gazillions of pages of the most turgid crap deciding what to redact.

I’m amazed most redacted documents aren’t just swathes of randomly excised text.


Guessing they make the new recruits do that job and their performance impacts their ability to be promoted out of it to paranormal investigator.


Would you assume that everyone knows about Luke’s daddy, Pikachu or David and Goliath?

I take it they aren’t protecting T’Challa’s identity then.


Guesses are not assumptions. I feel this is a safe bet, more-so than the three guessed below.

No. I’d guess around half, maybe more.

I doubt most people recognize that reference, though a sizeable minority probably do.

I’m going to guess maybe eighty or ninety percent know that reference.

Still pretty sure Clark Kent / Superman reference would be recognized by upwards of 98%. That leaves millions, but I doubt many work at the FBI, and I seriously doubt the odds that they’re the ones who happened to be redacting this particular document.


I’d guess the other way around. Sure, not so many people over forty know of Pikachu, but many people under that age will, and probably much more globally than might know about some bible characters, (David and Goliath) which I’m guessing is mainly restricted to people in the west.
Once something is known in China, that means a very large chunk of the world’s population know about it.

Sometimes when they review documents for derestriction they end up removing things which were previously public:

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A very solid point, and I’d agree there’s likely a a sharp age divide on Pikachu awareness.

But with regards to the fact that global understanding of a given reference is less, that’s why I was careful to specify the English-speaking world in my first comment. Which, though still a very fuzzy demographic, while global, is at least roughly contiguous to the category of people exposed to mass media including the fact that the fictional characters of Clark Kent and Superman are one in the same.

While not all FBI workers necessarily speak English as their first language, any desk jockeys doing redaction of English-language documents need to be fluent in it, and I feel pretty safe assuming they’re not so isolated from mainstream American pop culture as to be unaware of what I strongly suspect is the most widely known of all English-language comics facts. So I stand by my original assertion and my follow-up guesses to @Keith_McClary’s queries, with the implicit understanding that it was still within the context of the English-speaking world as mentioned in my first comment to which he was responding.

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