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Jul. 26th, 2008 @ 07:09 pm Why "Watchmen" sucks eggs
I read the graphic novel over a decade ago. And it still appalls me.
More below the cut, for those of you who don't want spoilers of a 20 year old comic book.
(you whiners.)


Massive plot summation: Superheros "deconstructed." It's the 1980s, There are costumed adventurers, but only one real "superbeing," Dr. Manhattan, whose exposure to a nuclear reactor has given him nigh-godlike powers and put America squarely ahead in the arms race. Suddenly one of the retired superheros is murdered, and the only active hero, Rorscharch, begins to uncover a sinister world wide plot-- that is being conducted by none less than Ozymandias, another "retired" superhero and the smartest man on earth, who is trying to "save the world" from nuclear holocaust. His plan consists of faking an alien attack, destroying New York city and killing millions, in order to unite America and the USSR against a common, albeit fictional, enemy.

1) First honk-me-off point: the assumption by the authors that American nuclear superiority (in the form of Dr. Manhattan), would make the Cold War WORSE, edging us CLOSER to nuclear war. To even propose this as a plot point requires a catastrophic level of stupid. No war in the history of the human race was triggered by the defending nation being MORE powerful than the aggressor. If America had developed an unshakeable military superiority over the Soviet Union, the USSR wouldn't have lasted to the end of the eighties. It would have imploded under its own weight.

2)Second dose of vinegar to the teeth: the idiotic notion that a sudden, violent attack on New York City by a supposed alien invader would "convince the Russians and the Americans to set aside their differences" and unite to face the common threat.
Horsepucky. If two nations are at the brink, a sudden, violent, devastating attack on one of the primary economic, military and political hubs of one would be a provocation to invade by the other. Look at the devastation caused by the 9-11 assaults! Can you imagine if it hadn't been just two or three buildings, but the ENTIRE CITY? And the range alone would have posed a threat to D.C....The white house, the pentagon, God knows how much of the US government and military command would have been killed in that strike... and only an unrepentant new york socialist bauhaus bozo--- like the author and artist for this piece of drek--- would think that the Communists wouldn't have taken that as the perfect opportunity to bomb the bejeezus out of the rest of America while it reeled about, suddenly headless.


3)And now we bite down and start chewing the tinfoil: The whole "Heroes as Fascists" crap. If I have to explain to you why that grinds my butt--- in a day in age when patchouli-stinking wastes of skin are out in the street screaming that Bush=Hitler and Jews=Nazis and Soldiers=Gestapo jackboots, spitting on the very people saving their worthless, whiny, diaper-wetting spoiled-brat lives--- then there's little point in me expanding on it.

4)Let us also remember the typical heaping scorn poured by the authors upon the only character who isn't a moral subjectivist or situational ethicist, Rorscharch. Rather than being the moral backbone that holds the sanity and the vision of the struggling heroes together, he is portrayed as a freak and a loser, a maladjusted runt with Oedipal issues and, of course, no nuance in his understanding of the "complex morality" of Ozymandias' mass-murdering scheme.

5) Ozymandias murders THREE MILLION people and drives millions of others insane... and the other "heroes" let him walk. Not only that but Dr. Manhattan actually kills Rorscharch in order to maintain the coverup.

There you have it; a pinnacle of the comic arts where heroes are freaks, perverts, losers and scum, where only a complete quasimodo has any consistent moral code, the threat of nuclear annihilation is the fault of AMERICA, and the smartest man on earth "saves the day" by committing mass murder on a scale not seen since the death camps of Germany. The whole book is a product of minds that have nothing but a craven, visceral loathing for the concept of heroism, and they basically took twelve issues of comics to pee on the leg of every cultural standard they could reach... moral absolutes, heroic ideals, American strength, human autonomy and liberty (this was the first example of the Regulated Hero concept, in the form of the plot device "the Keene act")

The usual suspects, of course, promptly dropped to all fours and began slathering the buttocks of these hacks with kisses of adulation. They have been showered with awards for this grotesque monument to deconstructionism, and are directly responsible for the ever more black and bleak scrawlings of modern comic book companies, and the everlasting slogan of "tear it all down and let it burn" that infuses the ink of every bile-soaked poison pen.

Rot them both.
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pestering
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 26th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)

Agreed, with small reservations

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While I agree in the main (Watchmen left a bad taste in my mind), I should point out the following:

1. Not seen "on-camera" were releases of information that would lead the Soviets to believe that Moscow was the next target after New York. It's briefly mentioned by Ozymandias in his monologue as part of the plan to force them to co-operate.

2. What can the heroes do? If Ozymandias' plan is exposed, the entire world will likely be plunged into Armageddon. Russia would never believe we didn't plan it, after all. And since Ozymandias is the only one of them without a personal code which forbids killing, that doesn't leave much they can do TO him, either.

3. Doctor Manhattan is a poor substitute for nuclear bombs. Because he's only one man, however powerful, the Soviets could imagine getting around him long enough to destroy America. Compared with mass-production warfare, superheroes don't stack up so well.

But, yeah. At least "V For Vendetta" ended with the anarchist realizing that his destruction and chaos would have to be followed by a rebuilding period... one that he was unsuited to supervise.
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From:rhjunior
Date:July 27th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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1. Neither the Americans nor Russia were staffed by the stupid. How long would it be before someone noticed that the "alien" was a little too biologically close to terran lifeforms?

2 they could kill Ozymandias, to keep him from trying that gambit again the NEXT time he felt the urge to "save" the world.... But no, instead they killed RORSCHARCH.

3 Dr. Manhattan counterbalanced Russia because his powers were so vast that he could stop the Russian's missiles as fast as they launched. (Plus, apparently, his research was panning out all sorts of gravy for the military.)

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From:jordan179
Date:July 27th, 2008 08:07 am (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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1. Neither the Americans nor Russia were staffed by the stupid. How long would it be before someone noticed that the "alien" was a little too biologically close to terran lifeforms?

I kind of wondered about that, though of course we have no idea what a real Great Old One would look like. Ozymandias no doubt felt that he had such a Cunning Plan that no one would ever suspect; it's occurred to me that someone might have gotten suspicious about all those murdered artists and biologists.

The real flaw in Ozymandias' plan is that America could get the idea that the Soviets attacked New York with that thing, in which case far from avoiding World War III, Ozymandias would have started it!

2 they could kill Ozymandias, to keep him from trying that gambit again the NEXT time he felt the urge to "save" the world.... But no, instead they killed RORSCHARCH.

Which strikes me as not only immoral but a tad dim-witted of the heroes, since wouldn't Rorschach be useful in case they wanted to stop Ozymandias a second time? But then, generally speaking, immoral actions are usually also foolish in the long run.

3 Dr. Manhattan counterbalanced Russia because his powers were so vast that he could stop the Russian's missiles as fast as they launched.

Yeah, but he wanted to leave the Earth. OTOH, if Dr. Manhattan could really do that, why not end the Cold War by taking out the entire Soviet arsenal, instead of attacking New York?


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From:rhjunior
Date:July 27th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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Actually he left the earth because Ozymandias convinced him he was giving people cancer.

By giving all Dr. Manhattan's old friends and associates terminal cancer.
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From:jordan179
Date:July 27th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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Actually he left the earth because Ozymandias convinced him he was giving people cancer.

By giving all Dr. Manhattan's old friends and associates terminal cancer.


Which means that Ozymandias tricked Dr. Manhattan, which means we should not trust Manhattan's assurance that Ozymandias' logic is sound on other matters -- such as whether or not Ozymandias' mass-murder is really necessary to stave off global thermonuclear war.

Thinking about it, it sounds more to me as if Manhattan was simply sick of protecting Mankind, and decided to turn the job over to Ozymandias, even though he may have suspected that Ozymandias was insane. If true, that's even nastier than what I originally thought.
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From:merlechaotix
Date:July 27th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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Neither Nite Owl nor the Silk Spectre (can't remember their actual names) knew that Rorshach was killed, I believe; Dr. Manhattan killed him outside the base. They may have thought that he would die trying to get back to civilization, but they weren't trying to stop him.

And as was mentioned, neither of them condones murder. They're of the "thou shalt not kill, ever" generation of heroes.

It was explicitly stated that Dr. Manhattan could not stop all of Russia's missiles, should an all-out war begin; the estimate, I believe, was from two-thirds to 70% of the missiles launched.


And in the end, it's implied that Ozymandias may have failed ANYWAY - depending on whether Rorschach's journal actually gets published. Alan Moore has said that he leaves it entirely up to the reader what happens after that.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 1st, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)

Re: Agreed, with small reservations

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I think you are assuming too many things. Alan Moore has said in several interviews that he totally agrees that what Ozymandias did was wrong.
Ozymandias is supossed to be a parallel to the main character of the pirate comic, that's why he mentions "I've been having dreams about swimming towards a horrible... forget about it" in his conversation with Manhattan near the end. Black Freighter destroying his home town is like Ozymandias' fear for war destroying the world. In the end, the Black Freighter never arrived to the town, and never planned to do so. And just like the guy in the poirate comic, he took extreme measures that only resulted in the death of inocents. He was a man who lost his sanity to his fear.

Just because the "hero" got turned into a pool of blood, it doesn't mean he wasn't the "hero".

Also, your assumption of what America would do or wouldn't do doesn't seem to take into consideration that America in the Watchmen universe had Richard Nixon as president for about 16 years. That's the guy responsible for murdering south american democratically elected presidents such as Salvador Allende and replacing them with puppet governments and mass murderers like Augusto Pinochet.
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From:jordan179
Date:July 26th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
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1) First honk-me-off point: the assumption by the authors that American nuclear superiority (in the form of Dr. Manhattan), would make the Cold War WORSE, edging us CLOSER to nuclear war. To even propose this as a plot point requires a catastrophic level of stupid. No war in the history of the human race was triggered by the defending nation being MORE powerful than the aggressor.

The real hidden assumption behind this was that America and Russia were in OTL equally to blame for the Cold War, and that it was caused by "suspicion" and "tension" rather than malicious intent. Naturally, this suspicion and tension would be worse of a stronger foe. Of course, this fails the reality test, to some extent even of the reality which Moore had to observe when he wrote the story. Today it fails completely.

If America had developed an unshakeable military superiority over the Soviet Union, the USSR wouldn't have lasted to the end of the eighties. It would have imploded under its own weight.

Indeed.

2)Second dose of vinegar to the teeth: the idiotic notion that a sudden, violent attack on New York City by a supposed alien invader would "convince the Russians and the Americans to set aside their differences" and unite to face the common threat.

Horsepucky. If two nations are at the brink, a sudden, violent, devastating attack on one of the primary economic, military and political hubs of one would be a provocation to invade by the other.


I don't know if that would have been true, because the weakening of America caused by the destruction of New York City would have really been enough for the Russians to gain that much of an advantage. Much as I love my old hometown, it was just one big city in a country which had several cities of equivalent size.

A bigger danger, I think, is that the Americans would have assumed that the "alien monster" was actually created by the Russians (or somehow summoned by them in a Charlie Stross strategy). The fact that the monster really was a fake would make things worse.

I can retcon this by assuming that Ozymandias had thought of this and had dropped, or was planning to drop, the hints needed to prevent this reaction.

5) Ozymandias murders THREE MILLION people and drives millions of others insane... and the other "heroes" let him walk. Not only that but Dr. Manhattan actually kills Rorscharch in order to maintain the coverup.

All this is based on the logic that only something like Ozymandias' scheme can possibly prevent a nuclear war, which would kill vastly more people (Alan Moore was probably going with the "all human life" version of global thermonuclear warfare). The problem with this is that there are self-evidently other ways to avoid such a fate (including what happened in OTL), and the second problem with this is that it leaves the human race at the mercy of the megalomaniacal sociopath Ozymandias.

Given that Ozymandias' "solution" is unnecessarily bloodthirsty (why not do something violent but less murderous toward innocents?), and given that Ozymandias' personality as a whole demonstrates murderous sadism (witness his murder of his secretary, which would be like a normal human killing a beloved pet dog), how long would it be before Ozymandias decided that another mass human sacrifice would be "necessary?" And another, and another, until he turned out to be as bad as the threat of nuclear war?

Granted, it's possible that once Ozymandias launched the attack (and remember that they didn't catch him until he'd already done this), he was the only man who could have prevented the atomic war that might well have erupted as a result of the revelation of his actions (US goes into civil war, Russians strike). But I notice that Moore didn't think of this.


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From:rhjunior
Date:July 27th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
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Moore's objective was to sneer at the notion of heroes. People lapped it up.To steal a quote from the Dark Knight, There are some people whose only desire is to see everything that was built up before they came along BURN.

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From:daemocles
Date:July 27th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)

Amen

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I found the Watchmen to be a colossall waste of my time, and I want those 3+ hours of my life back. It was by and far the seminal work of garbage, refuting heroes.

I have friends who say, "no, it was just a more realistic look at the drama that is human life and that even these super powered being have private, selfish issues". THIS IS NONESENCE, at best and idiocy at the worst. (I'm hoping for the former for the sake of my friend)

When the twisted freak that is Rorshack is the most moral among them, and is killed by them for it, this is not realistic human drama, this is nihilism at its finest. That this would be glorified in a media format that is used to promote the best in humans, makes me ill.

Now, I'll be fair and tell you the good points, the characters were well developed, (sick but well developed), and the comic was colorful. OK, I think that covered the fine points.
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From:rhjunior
Date:July 27th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)

Re: Amen

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People argue that it is about fearing those in power abusing their authority.
I contend to the contrary. The superhero mythos has never been about "those in authority." It has been from the very inception, with the creation of the one and only original Superman, an individualistic notion... the notion of someone with the gift, or the curse, of power and responsibility, someone who acts without the permission of the powers that be, who does the good thing for no better reason than that they can. It has been an ANTI-authoritarian concept... individualist, almost Libertarian in its notion.

In that light "the Watchmen" isn't about fearing authoritarians--- it's about fear, and loathing, and contempt for the individualist.
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From:tozetre
Date:July 27th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
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I agree with all you've said, but I opened the book with the title stuck in my head, along with the preceding phrase, "who watches the." Because of that, I thought of his superheroes, not as superheroes, and not the standard metaphor for truth, justice, and freedom, but as symbols of "those authorities we trust, look up to, and admire"- that is, the state. Taken like that, the whole story, especially Ozymandias' utter inhumanity in doing "what's best" for mankind, become a sort of cautionary, Orwellian tale warning the reader that power and morality are very different, and often exclusive, things. Plus, it makes the final page much more of a light of hope; there will always be those who speak the truth, free speech at its most debased is greater than the state at its grandest, etc.

I dunno. Maybe I'm full of it- God knows Alan Moore made some stupid points in V for Vendetta about religion, but some really strong ones about the dangers of the state- and then some more stupid ones that sound like lousy Ayn Rand fanfiction. But that distrust of the state is definitely there. I probably read too much of my own views into Watchmen, but even then I think it's got more pro-freedom, anti-statist message than you're giving it credit for.
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From:daemocles
Date:July 27th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
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Orwellian... Seems like a good reason to be cautious about reading it, to me too... :)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 27th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
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Religion and government totalitarianism are two sides to the same authoritarian coin, both out to crush human freedom because both asks you to be a complete slave to "something bigger" who of course knows better no matter how morally repugnant it is, except at least totalitarianism offers freedom upon death.
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From:gothelittle
Date:July 28th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
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Shouldn't you say "religion and government"? Unless you intend to include every single form of religion ever created or derived, which is kind of like saying "all vegetables are green" or "all cars have four doors".
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From:maulkin12
Date:July 29th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
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I'm assuming that when you say "Religion and government totalitarianism", you are referring to totalitarian religions and totalitarian governments, not religion in general and totalitarian governments? Because, if you mean religion in general... buddy, this is not the place for you.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 29th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
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totalitarian religions and totalitarian governments

Would be correct, and although certainly not all religions are totalitarian, some by their very nature as defined by their holy writ are either totalitarian or have a completely authoritarian and totalitarian god.
From:arkytech
Date:July 27th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)

Alan Moore & "The Watchmen"

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When this series came out, I was basically getting any comic books I wanted at no charge. I got 2 (two) issues of this drek and refused any others. I then sold those two issues to another person and considered myself ahead on the deal. Remember, this came out around the same time as the Batman deconstruction by Frank Miller (the "Dark Knight" series). Both of these were a waste of premium paper and ink.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 27th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
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No war in the history of the human race was triggered by the defending nation being MORE powerful than the aggressor.

It was strongly alluded to that the United States, because of it's superiority, became aggressive, so by the Eighties the USSR may have been the defending nation holding off with it's one remaining card (that some of it's nukes would get through) against an aggressor (the alternate world US).

Second dose of vinegar to the teeth: the idiotic notion that a sudden, violent attack on New York City by a supposed alien invader would "convince the Russians and the Americans to set aside their differences" and unite to face the common threat.

Dr. Manhattan hinted in the end that Ozymandias' plan may not work in the long run and we do not know if this plan indeed worked in the end, it is left up to the reader to decide what the outcome (and if his plan was justified).

Let us also remember the typical heaping scorn poured by the authors upon the only character who isn't a moral subjectivist or situational ethicist, Rorschach.

Rorscharch was also a murderous psychopath who would use torture or threats of torture to get information out of people, innocent or not (he threaten that former villain with bodily harm, for what, attending the Comedian's funeral?). He would also murder with impunity, deciding he would be jury, judge, and executioner, not exactly holding the ideals of American justice.

Ozymandias murders THREE MILLION people and drives millions of others insane... and the other "heroes" let him walk. Not only that but Dr. Manhattan actually kills Rorscharch in order to maintain the coverup.

That was the whole idea, that they were willing to cover Ozymandias' crimes for what they mistakenly believed is the "greater good", and therefore exposing their own moral ambiguity. It is an interesting question, keeping the secret of how millions really died to save billions, or tell the truth and risk all of humanity.
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From:rhjunior
Date:July 28th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
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1)Pan fried bullcrap. America never had, and never WOULD have, a motivation to attack Russia proactively. America is not a conquering state.

3) Rorcharch killed, yes. that did not make him a "murderous psychopath." And killing a rapist, murderer, or even an armed robber in the act is not "murder." It's the inevitable consequence of committing lawless violence against the innocent.

4)Every mass murdering monster on the planet has vomited up that excuse for their obscenities. It's a LIE. No lie ever lasts; no conspiracy can go undiscovered, no sin is not eventually shouted from the rooftops.

The Watchmen posits a preposterous, contrived, sociopolitical scenario so that the megalomaniacal Supergenius can justify concocting possibly the most reckless and stupid Xanatos gambit in the history of supervillainy--- so that the writer can set up the ridiculous and rickety latticework of --- Quelle surprise--- yet another crappy "morally ambiguous crisis." (Do we do the right thing and tell? Or do we take the word of the mass murdering megalomaniac that the truth will cause a nuclear holocaust?)

The fact that the Soviet union folded like wet toast less than five or six years after this crap comic book was written makes the whole "I must save the world by committing atrocities" scenario an even bigger pile of horseleavings than it was when it came out.


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From:rhjunior
Date:July 29th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)

Re: Well...

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If what Ozy had done had gotten out, nobody would have been blamed but Ozy-- though there would have been some chest thumping and allusions and accusations on one side or the other. With the coverup, accusations would have been a lot hotter when pieces of the truth finally began to come out... either America would have torn itself asunder seeking out the guilty parties amongst itself, or it would have concluded that the Russians, with their long record of psychic experimentation, had succeeded.

"The crazy man just killed four million people, but he says it was all for the better good. Let's go along with the crazy man and help the coverup!"

It is not, prima facie, believable.


3A guy chops up a little girl and feeds her to his dogs, and you call RORSHARCH the psychopath? Physician, heal thyself!

It seems to me that Rorsharch did nothing more than what any human being with a conscience and a soul would have been driven, in sheer horrified righteous fury, to do. No man could see something like that and not have it burn everything soft and compassionate and idealistic out of him like acid. The most idealistic cop on the force would have capped him.

And what would you have him do? Could you imagine him living with himself if he had turned this guy over to the "proper authorities" only to see him in a psych ward after copping a crazy plea, and back out on the street on a work-release program... to kill ANOTHER kid? Maybe two? Maybe twenty?
Could you imagine living with YOURself?

A psychopath, for your enlightenment, is clinically defined as someone who is literally incapable of feeling empathy for another human being. They are facile, witty, glib, masterful manipulators of others, egotistical (regarding other people as utterly inferior to themselves--- not with any hostility, just simply as you or I might regard a dog as being less intelligent), have a stunningly shallow emotional pool, and see other human beings as nothing more substantial than cardboard cutouts. They do things... like chop up little girls and feed them to dogs.... with no more emotional involvement-- no, with LESS--- than you or I would feel killing a rat with a stick.

Rorsharch was not the psychopath. Rorsharch KILLED the psychopath, in the most painful, vengeful way he could imagine, as retribution for the horrible death of an innocent little girl.


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From:rhjunior
Date:July 28th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
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1)Pan fried bullcrap. America never had, and never WOULD have, a motivation to attack Russia proactively. America is not a conquering state.

3) Rorcharch killed, yes. that did not make him a "murderous psychopath." And killing a rapist, murderer, or even an armed robber in the act is not "murder." It's the inevitable consequence of committing lawless violence against the innocent.

4)Every mass murdering monster on the planet has vomited up that excuse for their obscenities. It's a LIE. No lie ever lasts; no conspiracy can go undiscovered, no sin is not eventually shouted from the rooftops.

The Watchmen posits a preposterous, contrived, sociopolitical scenario so that the megalomaniacal Supergenius can justify concocting possibly the most reckless and stupid Xanatos gambit in the history of supervillainy--- so that the writer can set up the ridiculous and rickety latticework of --- Quelle surprise--- yet another crappy "morally ambiguous crisis." (Do we do the right thing and tell? Or do we take the word of the mass murdering megalomaniac that the truth will cause a nuclear holocaust?)

The fact that the Soviet union folded like wet toast less than five or six years after this crap comic book was written makes the whole "I must save the world by committing atrocities" scenario an even bigger pile of horseleavings than it was when it came out.

It just galls me that people are fawning all over Alan Moore for writing such bilious tripe. He wrote a comic book where American military superiority, and an american VICTORY in Vietnam, are responsible for the world being in peril of a nuclear holocaust, and only a plan involving lying, conspiracy, betrayal, and mass murder can possibly save the planet.
All so he can kick sand in the face of superhero fans.
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From:baileyflower
Date:October 1st, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
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1)Pan fried bullcrap. America never had, and never WOULD have, a motivation to attack Russia proactively. America is not a conquering state.

Manifest Destiny, bessa
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From:rhjunior
Date:October 1st, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Don't even try. Manifest destiny was already outdated by world war I. And it only referenced the conviction that pioneering America was destined to reach "from sea to shining sea." Not that it was foreordained to jump oceans and conquer the world.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 8th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)

About #5

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What would killing Ozymandias accomplish? If they did expose him, the 3 million deaths would be totally worthless, and the whole situation would become worse than it was before his plan was accomplished.
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From:rhjunior
Date:March 8th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)

Re: About #5

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The deaths WERE pointless, first off.
Second, He's a MURDERER. We used to execute those, not give them a cookie and a pat on the head.
And third, I don't know about YOU but I don't want someone like that running loose to try and "fix things" when his leaky plot bursts at the seams.
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From:puppetchaos
Date:March 12th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
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First off, I'd like to say I'm a conservative myself, so I'm not one of those Dirty Evil Scumbag Liberals you so hate.

The point of Watchmen's ending and Ozymandias' plan was that, meta-wise, it was meant for you to ask questions about it. It wasn't presented as a good thing, if you thought he was evil for it, that's a perfectly alright reaction. That's the point. I thought he was evil for it, too, and the book makes it clear that "nothing ever ends", in the words of Dr. Manhattan, and that his plan could well have failed in the long term in uniting the world.

Also, when I read the book, I got the impression that Complete Nuclear Annihilation would've been both the fault of America and Russia.

Honestly, without Watchmen, we wouldn't have Reconstructions/Responses like Astro City.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 20th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)

Watchmen comic

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You can be critical of Watchmen, but can't be justified in criticizing Moore's apparent illogic as expressed through the characters. He is working within the superhero genre, after all, which begs of any insanely absurd hypothesis that it be accepted without question so as to allow for the story to continue.

Moore's excuse in this case might be that we are more apt to accept a ridiculous premise or premises if the outcome is something we like. But then he does introduce his own, real-life ideas through the word bubbles of his characters. It's a clever technique, where he can introduce ideas that wouldn't ever survive a fair discussion, but then disavow others with the idea that they were menat as a "parable" or somesuch. Or, even more likely - use the Buddist techniques used by most hard-core fans of snickering at whatever criticism is made, no matter what, claiming that the person making it is "insufficiently enlightened" or simply stupid, etc.

It really was a masterful work of bullshit, with the idea of insinuating Leftist ideological stances as matter-of-fact truths (US participation in the Vietnam War was objectively evil, criticism of Castro was akin to criticisms of Elvis Presley, the CIA is monstrous and known to be so by US politcal leaders, US policies were bringing the world to the brink of Armageddon, and so on) while presuming to offer Leftist-based stances as "objective" talking points. As an example, the offhanded attacks on spirituality and religious belief are relentless, yet off-handed - at one point, through Dr. Manhattan, who is made to be a cross between Superman, Jesus and Vishnu (with maybe a bit of Zeus and his wandering libido thrown in), who is presumed to be an authority on the matter.

It's teh same kind of didactic crap I used to see in the old Swamp Thing, once Moore took over and ruined the series. This later work shows much more skill in sneaking the ideas through - this time, by trying to trick the reader into thinking that they are his own conclusions. And as has been saaid on the thread, it is true that he heavily stacks the deck in his favour - shamelessly violating history, the laws of reality, and common sense.

But here is where the "deconstruction" comes in - for can he not claim that all comics do the same, to different ends, and thus that his own scheming is simple fair play? Well then.

Incidentally, Veidt's "final scheme" was meant to mock a Reagan speech, where he claimed that an alien threat would bring the Russians and Americans closer together. The presumption was to invoke the old co-operation of the World War era, but Moore had a knee-jerk hatred of Reagan, and couldn't help but use his corporate villain to give the man a last-minute dig. The squid was meant to be ridiculous, to reflect how intellectually inept and morally bankrupt Moore, and many of his ideological sort, wanted to paint Reagan as.

If you lived during this time, Moore's endless denunciation of all the ideas associated with American cultural resurgance during the 80's, and Reagan in particular, is unmistakable. Some of these attacks are quite sophomoric and spiteful. Of Moore's most ferocious and foul-mouthed supporters, many are not so much "enlightned" as they are in agreement with Moore's Leftist ideology, see Watchmen as an excellent vehicle for introducing and perpetuating these ideas in the popular sphere, and are thus violently critical and sneeringly dismissive of anyone who dares question the work on any level.

Watchmen turns out to be simply one more Leftist propaganda diatribe from the late 80's. Which is unfortunate, since the underlying comic book story isn't half bad. I'm rather glad Snyder redid the comic in a movie form and, in the process, gutted much of the most objectionable, obnoxious elements of Moore's graphic narrative. It has been much improved in the process, in my opinion.
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From:puppetchaos
Date:July 21st, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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You just wrote a six hundred word response to a short random comment on someone's LJ, several months after said comment was made.

Congratulations.
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From:rhjunior
Date:July 21st, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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And he made good points, too.
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From:puppetchaos
Date:July 21st, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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Oh U.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 3rd, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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Did I forget to mention that Veidt's mass murder "in the name of peace" is supposed to be a lampoon on President Truman's justification for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks? I'm sure I forgot to. He even throws in the "felt their deaths" quote. The idea is that someone will react by saying that Veidt is a monster, that nothing would justify the destruction of a city full of women, children, babies, etc. Wherein the Left-leaning comic fans who are "in on the joke" exchange knowing smiles.

The real teeth-grating parts for me were in regards comments about US involvement in Vietnam. Anyone familiar with the history of Indochina after 1975? With the Vietnamese communists first conquering their neighbors (remember the Domino Effect?), then letting the Khmer Rouge join their party in 1998, culminating in the Marxists renting out their proletarian peasants to various corporations as slave labour...

Our typical US GI is personified in the Comedian. The defining image is of him shooting a pregnant Vietnamese woman in the belly (no doubt, an off-hand remark upon the plight of Amer-Asian children, so on). Doc Manhatten gets to play God in this one, as the Comedian lambasts him for not stopping his atrocities...

And it goes on like this, ad nauseum. All the old Leftist memes get covered at one point or another (Truman as war criminal comes from the post-war Stalinist era of the late 1940's, American soldiers as rapists and baby killers is from they late 1960's, and "God must be impotent or uncaring" is at least as old). My sense is that this is the real value and power of the comic to the hard-core fans, and not some nuance of coloring or panel layout.

Anyone with a strong knowledge of 20th century Western history and a dabbling in Eastern religions and myth will easily figure out most of what Watchmen has to say in the first read. Anyone familiar with Leftist propaganda from the 1980s - and you couldn't avoid it if you went to college during this period - will "get" Watchmen almost immediately. People who are familiar with and like Ditko's work would likely get teh joke on the first page. It's intentional. Moore isn't addressing issues of power and responsibility - he's taking a cumulative dump on anything remotely associated with the Left's opponents. Needless to say, none of the Left's sacred cows so much as gets nudged - when Left-wing protestors are portrayed, they appear as nameless (and, at a subliminal level, sympathetic) victims.

The greatest value of this work is that if you are a Leftist or radical, and some revealed series of facts or evidence from the real world has led you to question the nonsensical idiocy, outrageous hypocrisy and cruelty of your monotonic ideological belief system, a few read-throughs will help to rebuild within you a smug sense of superiority. If I were unsophisticated enough to be a liberal or Leftist, I suppose I'd love this thing too.

Well, I'm not. And I don't.
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From:rhjunior
Date:August 5th, 2009 06:17 am (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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With your permission I'd like to post these two entries on the "front" of this blog...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 8th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)

Re: Watchmen comic

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After reading these comments, I'd like to add a few. First off, I was incredibly disappointed by the conclusion. I was expecting something brilliant and grandiose, and all I got was an alien squid and a cheesy cover-up, courtesy of the world's "smartest" man.

Question: Is Veidt is truly the most intelligent man in the world (and thus clearly more intelligent than me, the humble reader), then why do I realize that his plan for world piece is complete and utter bullcrap? The way the world just suddenly became peaceful? Hopelessly lame. What's Russia's motive for peace? Are they afraid the aliens are going to blow up Moscow them too? If so, why make peace with America? We already know the US can't deal with an alien invasion (judging by the complete destruction of NYC).

The whole Dr. Manhattan-killing-Rorschach thing was stupid and juvenile too. For someone who just decided to leave Earth forever, severing ties with humanity, he seems awfully concerned as to whether Rorschach lives or dies. In fact, I don't know how Dr. Manhattan can justify killing off NYC in an attempt to pull off a plan that's obviously flawed.

That's what I thought about the graphic novel - and don't get me started on the pointlessness of the movie - so feel free to rip me apart as you please.

In the end, it made for an interesting read, but it was shoddy philosophy and a pretty damn ridiculous ending.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 14th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)

Thanks.

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Everything you say is right on. I walk the earth mystified at the masses holding up this ridiculous story as being the end-all be-all of comic book achievements, etc. I'm uplifted that there are people out there who are as repulsed by this story as I am,even if we're apparently in the minority. This is by far the best review I've ever read of why this graphic novel is the piece of crap that it is.