Bet you thought I’d never get back to this one.
(I no longer like “the oughties”, by the way…)
Well, neither did I. But then Ed brought over the Watchmen movie, so I figured “what the hell”…and who knew this extremely late review would turn out to be at all topical? Huh. Well, it’s probably just that the DVD came out, so that’s what’s driving rumours, possibly even will drive soul-chilling announcements, who knows? But so anyway I am trying to watch it a second time now, and let me tell you it is slow going. For the life of me, I can’t understand how non-comics people could’ve been interested in this, why they didn’t run screaming from it. I mean, “realistic superheroes”, okay, that pump’s been primed already — in an obvious, if roundabout, way by Watchmen itself — but did anyone watching this really get a head rush from Dr. Manhattan’s history? Weren’t all the “head rush” parts mostly taken out? And so it seems too lackluster to really reach out and grab anyone by the throat, not just in the critical “Watchmaker” section, but in various bits and pieces throughout the movie that should have shone even with no polish on them whatsoever, but somehow didn’t. Meanwhile most of these “realistic” things have probably been seen before, so what else gets added? The best dialogue in the movie is still Alan Moore’s, but the worst thing that happens to it sometimes is that it doesn’t get changed when it oughtta, and (astonishingly!) it does get changed when it doesn’t need changing…with the result that many points of tension simply fall right out of the thing, along with the supersymmetry. Which of course isn’t just about the way Dr. Manhattan sees things, but about the way all the other characters don’t see things. When Laurie and Dan fight the muggers in the alley (and believe me, I’ll get back to that!) it has nothing to do with Jon’s TV interview, because words and pictures don’t synch up…which is fair enough, you can’t have everything, and as has been noted many of Watchmen’s coolest bits on the page would turn to trite conventionality on the screen, so there can’t be anything sacred about saving them. Even the matter of supersymmetry isn’t absolutely essential, I guess. From a certain perspective. On the other hand, though: tension. Without the supersymmetry, there are so many ways in which it fails to be built. Did anyone honestly not get the memo about who Laurie’s father was, when they saw this? Did anyone not come away from that scene with Adrian and Dan, you know the one where Adrian looks out the window and says “by the way, it was me”, and not realize that, by the way, it was him? Already in my head is a voice screeching that at some point you’re going to know it’s Adrian anyway, that it’s just the nature of the moviemaking beast…and that’s the same voice that says Watchmen always did show blood, gore, dirt, sex…that Moore is always toying with the darker notes hidden away in characters like these, that he wants you to see them…
…But this voice is an asshole, I think. Hey, remember last week or something there was some fuss made over the Fantastic Four comic where Valeria calls her brother a “retard”? The thing is, the casual use of this word offended some people. In case you missed it, other people (including the writer) defended the word choice by saying “that’s just how kids talk”. But if you boil it down, that’s the same sort of bullshit argument I outline above. And don’t get me wrong, if I wanted to weigh in on how cautious we should be with potentially offensive language, I would have — that isn’t the part I’m identifying as bullshit. But the suggestion that any writer of Fantastic Four, or Spider-Man, or Batman or whatever has some kind of artistic obligation to be real with his language is clearly bullshit, I think. Because it isn’t society that’s on trial, here: most of the words spoken in superhero comics are outrageously not-how-real-people-talk, never are going to be how real people talk…these aren’t documentaries, and it’s damned rare that controversial or realistic language does much for a story in this mode, but it’s even rarer still that a controversy completely unintended, that doesn’t even have a point it wants to make, can pull off claims of story-based value in “realism”. And so it makes me laugh to think how little would be lost, if the writer had said something more like “jeez, I guess I didn’t think about that very carefully; you’re right, it was unnecessary.” I mean, people make mistakes all the time, right? Sometimes they are small mistakes.
Other times, they’re bigger. Now what I was thinking about, was how amazing it is that Dan and Laurie graphically kill and maim a few people in Watchmen, and then discuss going for a beer. I laughed when the first bloody bone came shooting out of an arm, and I was kind of thinking “wow, just imagine if this was in 3D”. It might as well have been. And of course the whole movie is loaded up with gratuitously violent money-shots such as this, stuff that is just simply over the top, hard sells, hammer-blows, visual amphetamine. Crank? Crank. But it’s not exactly a good sympathy-engine. Meanwhile the little voice in my head says “it’s just explodey fun, why get uptight about it, hey you liked Crank, I thought!” But that voice only finds it convenient to call me a hypocrite because misery loves company: that voice wouldn’t care if it was Watchmen I was watching or it was Transformers 2, because that’s the voice that says “Oh, take it easy, personally I’m looking forward to reading Mark Millar’s adaptation of Pale Fire, just to see the trainwreck.” But as I mentioned: that voice is an asshole. And furthermore, be it known: trainwrecks aren’t really that much fun to watch.
I liked Crank. In contrast, I don’t think the voice ever genuinely likes anything. So there’s that “retard” thing, I want to get back to that…because if the word-choice doesn’t flow from a commitment to “provoke” the reader by being unflinchingly honest, it certainly comes from somewhere, because word-choices don’t really just “happen”. So, where does it come from? I think it’d be uncontroversial for me to suggest that it doesn’t come from what kids say, but what adults say — hip language, pop culture, the zone of hyperactive inter-geek storytelling. The shared frontier patois of we who accept our inner adolescents, our own shared experience/observational comedy stuff. We don’t just pick it up out of our environment as kids do, we choose it: the cheap thrills of lovingly-shot slo-mo mayhem, kickass show-off moments studded with (to paraphrase a friend’s recent comment about what twelve-year-old boys like) non-threatening action spandex girls with huge tits. And so we should know better than anyone: character really isn’t a major concern in this sort of thing, no more than being a veridical observer of How Things Are is a major concern. So there’s nothing to defend, here; the energy spent on this defence is wasted. Concession costs nothing, because there’s nothing at stake.
Or…maybe there is?
Maybe there is just a little something at stake. This movie’s got a shitload of little problems, that aren’t really “little” at all: they’re basic problems, that range all over the map of “basic”. But the voice wants me to know that none of this really matters, because if I think it does then it also means I think the voice is an idiot grazer whose only artistic criterion is whether or not its belly is full. The “retard” thing, I think it’s safe to say, was just a mistake. Dan and Laurie in the alley, slaughtering muggers: oh, come on, that was a mistake too. There’s a thing about this movie, that it makes a lot of mistakes — mostly you wonder why, you wonder how the mistakes came to happen. Some of them are the result of Snyder ramping things up into the stratosphere, and that’s easy to see. You want to know why, when Dr. Manhattan points his finger at somebody, they pop like balloons full of meat salad? But the movie is full of such things, for heaven’s sake this is practically its sentimentality at work! To the extent Snyder has an auteur-ish vision, here it is. The SFX track is pumped way up for a reason. Rorschach only kills the dogs incidentally, for a reason.
And it’s in the reason, that one discovers the nature of the more obvious errors. Look, from the opening fight in Eddie Blake’s apartment, things start to shoot themselves in the foot: these people have some kinda extreme super-strength and resistance to injury, this isn’t Batman, not even Jet Li, this is Superman II. And me, I think that was a dumb idea, but I understand the rationale. Even if the rationale was sort of not quite right. Still, it’s a little dicier when Dan and Laurie kill some ordinary people on the street and then smile about it though, eh? They’re not even the right kind of nervous with one another. One is concerned for the point, as one rationale necessitates another, and the whole thing picks up speed unrestrained. Blake’s scar doesn’t figure into the symbolism, neither does Laurie’s finger on the dust of Dan’s equipment. Of course these things could’ve been left alone about as easily as they were changed, but I think it is fair to ask: left alone to what end, when the supersymmetry isn’t there anyway? By comparison, the long shot of the Argyre Planitia — I can only image what the non-comics moviegoing public made of that. Did they think it just came in from out of left field, did the words “as if” cross their minds? The supersymmetry is not really there!
These are little things, but they do add up, and most of them aren’t just me nitpicking. Me nitpicking would be like: wow, Adrian’s personal worth is enough to buy Chrysler, Ford, and GM a couple times over? It isn’t impossible — this could easily be a world without Microsoft or Apple, and APPARENTLY he’s some kind of whiz at genetic engineering — ha, maybe they left Bubastis in this movie because they’re planning of making her into an action figure? — but I’ve got to say, it was a bit jarring to hear him threaten to buy the entire North American auto industry.
But here’s some not-nitpicking. The sex scene in the owlship is crazy over the top, don’t you think? When Rorschach disposes of Big Figure, that just seems kind of laboured, doesn’t it? But then there are things that aren’t over the top, they’re just sort of…huh? Rorschach’s dialogue in the cell is changed just slightly, for hard-to-understand reasons — the method by which he kills Big Figure’s remaining goon is sort of repetitive. Is that guy even supposed to be alive after having his head smashed through a toilet?
Can the psychiatrist really not recommend Rorschach being committed after hearing his story?
That in particular is kind of a Dark Knight level of inconsistency…so let’s just leave it to one side for a second, and concentrate on the day what was left of Walter Kovacs died. This is a straight-up fumble, isn’t it? Honestly I’m coming to really enjoy the Rorschach guy’s acting effort in this thing, and he knows how to read Moore’s words…but the killing of the dogs is the part where Kovacs finally checks out, isn’t it? Well, it is; but that dark moment — as dark as it gets! — is inexplicably undersold in favour of the bad guy’s punishment. And it’s tempting to chalk that up to somebody’s misreading of the original text, except…come on, did anybody misread that part of the original comic? So, no: the guilty party here is the crazy ramping-up of spectacle, the adrenaline. Rorschach breaking down and butchering the dogs isn’t any adrenaline-junkie’s idea of a fist-pumpingly good revenge trip. Dan and Laurie’s porno-gone-wrong music video starts with Dan feeling impotent standing naked before his owlsuit (which doesn’t really look like an owl at all, but — nitpicking!), however the bit where he’s wearing the glasses is carefully omitted, right? And anyway they’re the wrong kind of glasses, and come to think of it that doesn’t make sense — he’d look a lot more like an owl if the glasses were like Archie’s windshie…oh never mind, there’s so much to say it almost isn’t worth getting bogged down in every little specific. We’ll be here all night. Speaking of which, crazy to think poor old dead Jon still possessed vanity enough to reconstruct himself with both a steroidal physique and a huge schlong (superpowers!) — and yet the key is right here, eh? The key to everything is that the world is no more ready for a superman with a tiny dick, than it is for a masked avenger of the night with real feelings like the kind we’ve got.
“Mommy, is that Jesus?”
Snyder unwisely lets the moment stand. Though at least Mommy says “no”.
But the point remains: this isn’t nostalgia, it’s mawkishness. And the violence is the most mawkish of all.
Christ, I feel a little bit like I’m picking on a little kid, though. Does the world really need another excoriation of the Watchmen movie? I mean I want to make my point, but I don’t want to be an asshole about it myself, you know? There are just lots of little mistakes in this movie, that’s all. But it isn’t more deserving of scorn than other Moore-derived movies. “From Hell” was actually far more shortsighted than this is. The Watchmen motion comic was far more horrendous. So, this hasn’t ruined the original experience for me like seeing the Star Wars Special Editions did. Good God, but in the age of computers haven’t we been well enough educated to know that “Special Edition” is the mark of death? I’m through with Star Wars now, man. Star Wars and I are done, finished. But Watchmen and I are fine. So what am I saying, it wasn’t as good as the comic? Well, I never thought it would be. Am I accusing Snyder of hubris or something, is that my point?
Am I saying it was shitty?
It wasn’t exactly shitty, but it was a bit WEIRD. If I had to think of a recent superfolks movie to compare it to, I’d probably pick the first Fantastic Four movie, honestly. Which makes sense: because I had the same sort of feeling of aversion to seeing it, as I did with that one. It wasn’t hate. It wasn’t fear. Maybe it was embarrassment? Or more likely it was a kind of sympathy after all. Christ, I couldn’t even make a Watchmen movie that I’d like, you know? In the end, the squid didn’t matter as much as Dan telling people he’d be seeing them all the goddamned time. That was one of the inexplicable mistakes. The ludicrous gore was more understandable, as was the loss of the supersymmetry. But it was the B-grade “understandables” that were really frustrating. Most of Rorschach’s journal came across like the Architect’s speechifyin’ in the second Matrix movie: as text, totally fine, but as spoken dialogue WHAT? I do understand the necessity of having the journal end up in Seymour’s hands, with us knowing what it is, but…seriously, someone says “abattoir of retarded children” aloud, that’s not arresting, that’s either hilarious or it’s disturbing as shit, or it’s both. But are we supposed to think of Rorschach that way, really? Well, I think it was not really considered, I think the question never came up in a serious way…like I said, it’s a bit weird. Do we need to have the name of the military base that houses Jon and Laurie narrated to us, after seeing the sign almost a whole minute before the voiceover gets around to it? In the comics, lots of things can be made to work, that are radically superfluous in film. “Obsolete Models A Specialty” is not necessary in film — and stripped of supersymmetry it looks ham-fisted. Listen, here’s the absolutely AMAZING thing, okay? Movies already trade on supersymmetry. Nobody in a movie ever has a dream that isn’t prophetic. Movies put the foreshadowing in your face ten times a minute. All this shit’s completely normal to movies. Which is why Hollis’ sign is something that won’t make anyone go “ahhh! how clever!” in a movie — in a movie, no one will see the places the camera goes as anything but totally intentional. Hollis’ sign isn’t brilliant decoration in the movie as it was in the comic, “In Gratitude” would be grating even if it were set up properly, there is nothing brilliant about filling spaces in a movie with movie-type-stuff, no one looks at Orson Welles movies and says “that’s so innovative how he has the actors scold the camera like they can see us”, they just DON’T.
And so this may be another key to this movie, specifically to its weirdness: that the comic already looked like a movie, just not enough. Or occasionally: just a little too much. So much hammering, but somehow — somehow — we lose the details of “Watchmaker” that attach us most powerfully to Jon’s experience of time. Little trivial pieces of nothing, they’re just words, so easily replaced…yet without them something’s lost. And why are they not there, if they’re so trivial? I’m not saying we need whole scenes back, although I don’t think it’s very hard to see that Billy Crudup would’ve hit the “photograph lies at my feet” business right out of the park, I mean look what he accomplished just with “perhaps nothing is made” and “it’s too late” — as Jackie Earle Haley would’ve crushed the audience to tears, no doubt, with the dogs — but I love it when he scratches his head later on, you know? — I mean I’m not asking for the whole wide world, but where is the sense that Jon is reassuring Janey in one room, can hear her swearing at him in another? Not all of Moore’s prose is deathless, but the technical fine-tuning is fairly impeccable, and doesn’t take any more time than anything else…that someone made the choice to get rid of it astounds me. Did the non-comics folk in the audience really get Jon’s perspective?
But maybe they weren’t really supposed to — maybe they weren’t supposed to dwell on it that much. Rorschach with the dogs, that would’ve stuck in the mind like a splinter. Could I have appreciated him scratching his head, after that? The movie’s only so long. Jon’s story could fill twice the space it took up, and probably more. I saw the Director’s Cut, it was skinny at a hundred and sixty-eight minutes. In the theatrical release, you wouldn’t want people just zoning out thinking about Dr. Manhattan, would you? And as for Laurie’s parentage, my goodness. It isn’t pretty, the way we get to it. But at least I saw the snowglobe. And you can’t have everything. You can’t have all of it.
And it’s too late now, anyway.
But there are definitely some negative things to say about it all, that deserve saying, deserve hearing, deserve something anyway. Because I may’ve said that nothing really needed to be held sacred in this movie, but then again the movie itself is all about what needs to be held sacred and what doesn’t…and I, myself, am actually so very fondly attached to the book that if given the chance to make this movie I probably wouldn’t’ve. Sacred, I dunno. It’s funny what cooks down as essential, here. It’s very wobbly. The logic of physical damage, punishment both dished out and taken, is tough to make work…if you care about that sort of thing. It’s so exclusively tonal: Dan pounds on Adrian’s face and makes a little scratch. I have to tell you, it set me back a little: earlier we saw teeth floating in a bloody mouth. This is the logic of bodies and how they work, what they can endure, what they symbolize, how they suffer and why. Adrian’s little drop of blood is meant to touch us. His fight with the Comedian is supposed to fill us with desperate urgency. The violence is the music, here: emotional texture. Watchmen needs a lot of it. Well, that’s what realism is, for heaven’s sake! Dan’s gawping after Laurie is so empty that it needs something, and it was either brutal over-the-top ultraviolence, or it was gonna be “Oh Yeah” by Yello…
Oh yes, folks, don’t kid yourselves! These same choices could’ve been made much, much more poorly!
As for the Comedian himself, his funeral is confusing; camera looks down as rain falls on the mourners, we’ve seen this before, okay, it’s not exactly pure genius but it isn’t unendurable…still, if they’re gonna do that, why didn’t they do the bit where the mourners’ posture at the grave recalls their posture when the Comedian messed with their heads? I mean, I don’t really care a whole lot, but I also don’t understand the choice. Not when Rorschach gets to play with the “fine like this” callback-dialogue thing, and my GOD when did that shit become so de rigeur in American movies, I really really really would like to know. I’d like to have someone to blame for it. I mean if they can do that stuff, why couldn’t they do any of the other stuff, that’s better and less hackneyed?
Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like how he delivered the line…heck, the way it ended up, I didn’t even mind the song. But you know, this is like “The Golden Army”, this is just somebody’s fan-fic, like a backhanded review of the source material rather than an adaptation of it. There really are music-video parts — like those long-form videos people used to do, it’s sort of like six or seven of those strung together, with bridges made of “movie”. I’m going to say this is not the most heinous thing there ever was: music does indeed add texture to poses and shots, possibly is the only thing that might add back tension that script revisions removed. The score, the shots, the dialogue in voiceover…that’s the symphonic aspect of film, and it isn’t forceless, it isn’t valueless. Maybe it’s even where the seeds of adaptations take root, translating something difficult from another medium into a kind of Universal Donor form of artistic dynamic, a plug that fits all sockets…”music video”, I mean how did anybody ever even come up with this idea? I remember reading X-Men comics while listening to the Red Album, and it fit weirdly, just as all this does. In the old mixed-tape days, I wrote down themes I was trying to get across, flows for a rainy day, a bad breakup, a party. On to the sampling and mixing of today, and even I, Mr. Old-And-Tired, have just plugged part of the opening of “Ziggy Stardust” into a song’s middle-eight like an insane person, to switch the “logic” track over from Words to Music, a temporary inversion of how meaning is delivered in an ordinary song. We shouldn’t just discount this. This is how we make our own personal fan-fic in our heads, isn’t it? How we play our games of “what would I do”, “what would I match”…
It’s sort of a kink, you see. “Oh, if I could do whatever I pleased, I’d do this…!” Hmm…something to be said for a job where all you do is cross your own boundaries, make illicit fantasies into normative behaviour…
Let’s see…what else? It is of course nice to see drinking buddies and old professors getting work. What else? Under The Hood is absolutely awful. SURPRISE! Bet you expected it to be good, huh? Me too. But it really wasn’t. The Black Freighter made me laugh, though.
God, I don’t even know. The Nixon is like a Sin-City Nixon, remarkably like a Nixon in a comic-book…for some reason I grew not to mind this.
Ah. And of course, there’s the matter of “was it worth it” and “was it enjoyable to watch” and so on and so forth. You do have to be happy for Dave Gibbons, who got to see some of his masterful artwork diligently recreated by someone who obviously understood just how good it was. How many comics artists get that kind of compliment? How many, who’ve accomplished something as stunning as what Gibbons did in Watchmen, have been so ignored and denigrated by the very people who claim to love his work the most? On the higher plane of human beings getting the respect they deserve, Watchmen’s a success in this sense: Dave Gibbons is in every scene, his name is on it and he got paid for it and people went out and bought his book because of it. And he was happy with it. Good for him. So does it matter if it was any good, if I thought it was “worth it”?
Well, sure it does. I just don’t know if I do think that, because my “review” of the source material is considerably different from the one Snyder’s given me to chew over. Watchmen the book and Watchmen the movie were always going to be miles apart from one another in terms of content — no one thought we were going to get the Gordian Knot, surely? The inside of the Bestiary? The Black Freighter? Blood From The Shoulder Of Pallas? Even the outstanding colouring. Watchmen doesn’t even mean the same thing to me as it did back in ’86 — like me, it’s aged well, but it’s aged nonetheless. The movie, by contrast, is never going to age at all — it’s going to be stuck in the summer of 2009 for all eternity, pinned ruthlessly to the corkboard of this time, this place, this cultural concern. The special effects will one day look primitive. The politics will look as glued-on as the costumes. The story will stay pretty much linear. The particular humour and particular seriousness of Moore and Gibbons will always be absent, as will the true character of their accomplishment. What we were always looking for here was an interesting failure; that really was all we were ever going to get, that really was the best we were ever going to get.
So…was it interesting?
Dave Fiore thought it was. Focussing on the political dialogue between the comic and the movie, he thought it was worth it to consider an Adrian who was more than just an extradimensional-squid inventing madman. And he has a point: in the comic, Adrian’s far madder than Rorschach, more inhuman than Jon, more pathetic than Dan…his life more damagingly composed of lies than Laurie’s. Of course it’s just this that causes the Comedian’s sense of humour to shatter, in the end — a fucking space squid!? — and as Jog noted at the time, Veidt’s apocalyptic landscape is a pretty sanitized one in the film. Very little horror, very little blood. He says he’s made himself feel every death, but in the comic you know he hasn’t; you know he couldn’t. Whereas in the movie he’s allowed to get away with saying this — well, he is the smartest man in the world, after all! Maybe he knows something we don’t! Because we can’t make ourselves feel every death, can we?
So, is it deck-stacking? In the comic we know something Adrian never will, because we’ve been to the bloody Lovecraftian deathscape of New York with Jon and Laurie — so “smartest man in the world” won’t cover anything, for us. It just won’t wash. In the movie we aren’t confronted with this sort of perspective, though, so we do get Dave’s interesting political dialogue coming at us in a more unforced way…the only question is, what should we say about the difference? In the dialogue between movie and comic, a principal difference becomes how much judgement of himself Adrian is permitted — how much certainty he can afford, or manufacture. In the comic he yells “I DID IT!” in childish triumph, but then looks to Jon to solve his dreams of the Black Freighter…and finds no solution forthcoming. One in three go mad, in the new Millenium. However in the movie there is no triumphant schoolboy shout, but there’s no madness either, so…I don’t know, is it enough? True, we can grapple with the same problem Adrian grapples with, using the same tools, and decide for ourselves if his results are reproducible…or worth reproducing…but it’s only Adrian’s tools we’re given, and not (as the fellow named Kieran points out in that long-ago comments thread of mine), Moore’s. Which is to say: our own. We are not really shown anything but what Adrian can see on his TV screens, so naturally we, like him, think the tools he’s got are up to the job. And for myself, I think this constitutes a shortfall in meaning…
…But, yeah: it’s probably interesting enough to argue about, anyway!
And anyway, as I said, we knew we wouldn’t really be getting Watchmen. So maybe the argument is all there is?
I don’t know. There are few scenes that don’t have something to quibble with in them. It’s hard to get around Adrian having an Egyptian statue standing there with Yeats’ lines scribbled beneath it, even though at this point one pretty much expects it. It’s tough to feel bad for Laurie when she could’ve just taken the cab and not killed that guy. The little voice argues that this is just how kids talk, this is just how real-world superheroes would be: they’d be horrors, they’d be fascists, I mean look at their suits. It says: hasn’t Moore made a big enough meal of this in his other comics, for you to accept seeing it here? And yet I did not think Dan was such a big hypocrite in the comic, so…was I supposed to?
Was that the message I missed?
Was it all just a big joke, from the beginning?
Nah. All that hyperviolence stuff, y’know…that’s new. They stuck it in there on purpose, because they needed it. Dan and Laurie in the alley? You think of all the things that sequence was for in the comic; it isn’t for any of that here. It’s for quite another sense of proportion. Nothing “sacred” about it! And so that explains why the defence of this movie seems not to have been centred around the question “did they hold it as sacred”, but around the question “did they blaspheme against it” instead…with the corollary question being “is it even possible to blaspheme against it?” So we’re into the Frankenstein questions here, appropriately enough: is it just a matter of reassembling the pieces in the correct order?
Perhaps Dave is right, and the dialogue between movie and comic is interesting enough in itself, to make the movie worthwhile. I only wish I knew if he saw it a second time, though! Because when I finished my second viewing of it, all these words just about went flying out the window. Depressing? It surely was: largely empty-hearted, dripping crocodile tears, a series of nods to scenes that were presumed to have something in them just because they were there. Snyder drops most of what is in Watchmen, to show us what is on it: owlship crashes spectacularly on Antarctic cliffs, ACTION sequence! But where’s the meaning in it? Dan and Laurie lose my sympathy in the alley, but for what?
Here is a thing about meaning: it’s about thinking globally, and acting locally. One scene doesn’t mean all by its lonesome, but it’s part of a tapestry of cause and effect — a cause and effect whose nature the scene reveals, through being a part of it. So by themselves — and even together! — the scenes in Watchmen might mean anything, you see? And so it always is, with superficial copies — their perceived faithfulness depends on how low they can set the value of faithfulness. Is Watchmen, the comic, any good? Why do we even like it so much? After all, it’s just a bunch of scenes of people doing stuff and saying things, hell I can get that out my front street…so what’s the difference? Thus from Mary Shelley we move off further back in time, to Rene Descartes…
What is “mind”, anyway?
You can’t touch it, or taste it!
And don’t a live body and a dead one have the same number of particles in them?
Structurally, there’s no difference…right?
Well…maybe there’s just a little bit of difference. Mark Kardwell told me, in the last comments thread, that it would be awful and that I would complain bitterly, but that I would still wind up enjoying it…because at the end of the day it is Watchmen. I think he was probably right, when it came to my first viewing: for all sorts of reasons, I felt involved and invested in what would happen, what Snyder would do…how I myself would respond, and what I’d discover from that response. The second viewing absolutely swept all that excitement away, however; as I began to realize that the movie was actually mostly crap. And yet, you know, Mark’s still right. I didn’t enjoy it on second viewing. Quite the opposite. But somehow I have still wound up having something to say about it…because at the end of the day, it was Watchmen.
By which I mean: the comic was.
And of course, it still is.
…But I think that’s all the time we’ve got for today, to talk about it.