Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I watched Watchmen

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us - for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto." — The Gay Science

I went to see Watchmen (IMDb) at The Magnolia. Sunday noon, alone. There was only one other person in the whole theater (theatre?) — way over to the side — who watched it.

I haven't read (yet, if I ever do — I'm not into that sort of thing) the newly released Watchmen (Paperback), nor have I read
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (Paperback).

One thing I try to do is, if I go to see a movie at the theater, is to see the movie, and then go to Rotten Tomatoes and see where I fit in, Tomatometer-wise. Today, it's like this: T-Meter Critics — 64%, Top Critics — 43%. Fresh, that is. Not good.

I fit into the "Fresh" batch. In fact, I would be a ★★★★ (out of 4 stars) critic. It's a great movie, and I am going back to see it again.

Why the "disconnect" with the public and practically every critic? First, like I said, I was totally ignorant of the comic ("graphic novel"), except I knew it has something to do with a 1980s world where Richard Nixon is president in a fourth term, and it has some sort of "superheroes" in it, one who is blue, massively built, and with a massive penis. (Two "tricky" dicks. I get it.) That's it.

I think it's because I think I "get it". It isn't a superhero-genre movie, like Spider-Man, Batman, or even X-Men at all. It's a deft deconstruction of the entire genre of Superheroism (proxy Gods) and its entanglement with American-wayism*. It makes all of those movies look ridiculous now. Not like a comedy spoof, like I suppose Superhero Movie was supposed to be (though Watchmen is severely, darkly comedic), but as a philosophical bulldozer razing American-hero iconography and morality. (And, as pure cinematic art, it triumphs.)

Perhaps that's why (potential) audiences have fled in droves — away from this movie. (Why destroy their well-worn myths? The American audience wants its superhero the American-way, and when this myth is undermined — there were none in the first place, and there never will be any in the future — they are baffled and confused.)

One thing was missing: One doesn't get to see the big blue dude's big blue tool erect, and see how really big it is. (Perhaps he should have popped a big blue pill.) That would have boosted its ratings, I think. But then, would that mean it would be NC-17 and not R?

"The Superhero" is dead. And we have killed him ...

* How it does this would involve getting into the story and plot, and constitutes spoilers. One spoiler: The key to the movie is watching the scene of Dr. Manhattan, the only "real superhero" in the movie, exploding the living bodies of Vietnamese, thus winning the Vietnam War — for America.