(urth) OT: watchmen on trial

zvi at vex.net zvi at vex.net
Tue Mar 22 08:06:19 PST 2005

James Wynn said:
>Blattid said:
>>No. [The Watchmen is] not a "profoundly fascist" work. It is a profound
>>work_about_fascism. Gaaaaah.
>I'd be interested in your explanation of how it was "about" fascism rather
>than founded on it. I'm not sure how you can say Alan Moore did not
>**embrace** the most fascistic elements of the comic book superhero genre
>in "The Watchmen".

James, you're right: Moore was interested in exploring the fascistic
elements in comic books and wanted show how a world with real super-hero
types in it might deform and react to their presence.

However, Moore is playing with the conventions of superhero comic books,
while still being internally consistent and informed by them. (Not to
mention being a formally powerful work with great art.) This is why both
the fanboys and the critics hailed Watchmen as the milestone it is. This
is also why the two of you have this difference of opinion: seen SOLELY as
an internally-consistent comic book story, it's a triumph of the
ubermensch -- Ozy and Dr. M do 'save the world' from itself; and the
morally ambiguous Comedian and Rorschach are point-of-view anti-heroes.
Seen from the outside, it reveals the core humanity of the superhero
behind the mask and their weakness; as well as the way the world deforms
around superheroes: it is the fascist NATURE of the superhero/overman that
changes the world so that a war comes to be that the superhero saves it
from. Dr Manhattan warps the world he comes to exist in: he wins the war
in Vietnam, he acts as a deterrent to the Russians, and he helps prop up a
(presumably) corrupt presidency (Nixon); this agression and power leads
the world into a world war.

Watchmen belong in the company of Disch's _The Genocides_ and Russ's _We
Who are About To..._ and and yeah, even Wolfe's Wizard Knight (yay, got it
back): books that twist convention and really ask the question: what if it
REALLY happened to the world-as-we-know-it: superheroes, alien invasion,
crash landing on an alien planet, giants and gods and knights.



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