Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My 'Watchmen' Enthusiasm Is Waning

You may have heard that a little flick called "Watchmen" is coming out on Friday. I'm just gonna put it out there: I'm kinda over it.

"Watchmen" is the Holy Grail for serious comics lovers, but as I've said before, I waited too long (way too long) to appreciate it. Do I understand its impact on the genre? Absolutely.

It's no secret that "Watchmen" writer Alan Moore wants nothing to do with the film adaptation or that he has absolutely no use for D.C., which owns the rights to it. Moore has frequently criticized the comics industry, and justifiably so in many cases. Hollywood isn't much better, as the film version of "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman" proved. He's got a right to be disdainful of the practices of both industries based on his past treatment.

But I'm weary of his seemingly dismissive attitude toward mainstream comics as art and the people who enjoy them. It's one of the themes in his recent Q&A interview with Wired magazine. As usual, he has a lot of interesting things to say. But some of his statements bugged me a little.

On superheroes: "But looking at the superhero today, it seems to me an awful lot like 'Watchmen' without the irony, that with 'Watchmen' we were talking very much about the potential abuses of this kind of masked vigilante justice and the kind of people that it would in all likelihood attract if these things were taking place in a more realistic world. But that was not meant approvingly."

Is it such a bad thing to enjoy "Green Lantern" without irony? Especially since it's, um, not real? Besides, he admits that he hasn't read comics closely in many years ... so how would he know?

On people who read comics: "They're being bought in many cases by hopeless nostalgics or, putting the worst construction on it, perhaps cases of arrested development who are not prepared to let their childhoods go, no matter how trite the adventures of their various heroes and idols."

Stereotypes contain a kernel of truth, as this statement certainly does. But what about the discriminating comics readers who sift through the dreck and take reading and literature seriously? Besides, if an otherwise responsible, productive adult wants to spend an hour a week with the Flash, why is that something to look down upon?

Obviously, parts of that interview took me there. And as opening day approaches, the less certain I am that I want to spend almost three hours in the relentlessly dystopian "Watchmen" universe. I'm not a person who thinks that art should never be upsetting, but I'm feeling particularly protective of my psyche right now. Maybe I'll feel differently by Friday, but it's not like Alan Moore wants my money anyway.


Christina said...

Alan Moore is tiresome. But as he has said many times, from the rooftops even, he has nothing to do with Watchmen. So going to see it or not going to see it shouldn't have anything to do with his cranky ass.

And, since he hasn't read comic books in a long time, I can't really take him seriously there, either. It's like someone who proudly proclaims they never listen to hip hop, weighing in on how awful it all is.

You know that I only knew what Watchmen WAS a few years ago; I managed to enjoy and consume many, many comic books before I even knew the name Alan Moore. So I'll take his utterances for what they're worth -- not much.

Christina said...

Nothing to do with Watchmen "the movie," I should have said.

EDP said...

All true. He totally sounds like a crank who thinks nothing worthwhile has been done since he was a young man. I'm sure I'll see the movie at some point. I'm just not nearly as jazzed about it as I thought I'd be.

Christina said...

The special effects seem exciting. And a local book club that I've just gotten involved in read the book and is going to see the movie as a club outing, so I'm game. Otherwise, i don't think I'd rush down to see it, not like I'm going to for Wolverine:Origins.

EDP said...

I'm so excited about that movie that it borders on the shameful.