Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Watchmen can suckit.

Last night I saw The Watchmen - a live action film based off of an illustrated graphic novel - like a comic book but a series of them. It portrays a distopic alternative reality - where Nixon is elected to 3 or 4 terms, lawlessness rules and The Watchmen (previously The Minutemen) are a gang of masked crusaders who keep the world from ripping apart at the seams.

After watching the movie, I wanted to fling dishes off a very high building, or go to the batting cages, or pummel a punching bag. In short, it made me very, very mad. The movie is so profoundly anti-woman. I know, I'll get people telling me I'm oversensitive or I'm misinterpreting things. But this is my response to them: I'm telling you what I see, what I feel, and it's a potential interpretation and set of observations that COULD be derived from this film. I haven't read the graphic novel yet, and not sure that I will. But my hope is that my interpretation was not the intent of the novelist or creators of the film.

Paul MacInnes much more eloquently put down what I'm about to point out.
"The real disappointment of Watchmen the movie is not its stodgy pacing or its unconvincing climax, it's the way it treats its female characters."
His post poses the same question that I do - for an author that generally creates strong women characters, why in the movie do they all lose their powers?

Other reasons why I think the film is infuriating:

- Silhouette - who is seriously hot and creates an alternative post-WWII picture, kissing a nurse during a parade - is one of my more favorite scenes in the film. She is brutally killed, and the shot of police taking photos of her and her murdered lover look more like a weird photo-shoot, rather than people taking care of what could be seen as a hate-crime. As MacInnes points out - this attention is paid to a character that isn't even illustrated in the original book. The other gay couple of superheros in the movie (and book) are killed - barely mentioned in the movie.

- There are no people of color in this film - one of the psychologists that tries to help Rorschach is Black. Everyone else is White. I don't know why that bugs me but it does. It's the least irritating thing about this flick.

- The ladies costumes are trifling. Any costume made out of PVC or latex that close to the va-jay-jay does not say to me "empowered woman". It says "extremely bad YEAST INFECTION."

- At one point Miss Jupiter finds out who's her daddy (The Comedian). You have to understand that her daddy tried to rape her mom once. Then the mom (Silk Spectre) ostensibly seduces The Comedian and Silk Spectre gets pregnant. Without digressing into a 3rd wave feminist discussion about whether or not a woman is conquering her victimization by boffing her former assailant, one thing is beyond argument: rape is VIOLENCE. Anyway, in the scene, Silk Spectre, Miss Jupiter's mother, says to her with tears in her eyes - I know it doesn't make sense and he was an evil man but he gave me you and that makes it ok.

Yeah, ok. Maybe that's a very warped version, a twisted attempt to somehow speak to female empowerment and the power of life. But the way I see it, it sounds apologetic, pro-life and condoning of rape.

Also - I have seen enough naked tushies of dudes (digitized and real) for a long time. Not really complaining because they were well-formed behinds, but seriously? Lots of cheek going on.

I get that the comic was written during the height of the Reagan Era. That politics - both in governance and personal mores - were different. That the author was trying to deconstruct the concept of the superhero. There are elements of this movie that are wonderfully shot - particularly some of the scenes on Mars, and the one scene where Nite Owl finds Rorschach in his house. But I can't shake a bubbling rage that the movie evoked in me.

8 comments:

Ruadhan said...

Complain about perceived misogyny, yet you can't even bring yourself to write "vagina"?

Yeah, I'm sure smart women, like some of my friends, will listen to you about "empowerment".

TaraGL said...

I can't speak for the post, but I use words like "va-jay-jay" or "bajingo" as nods to pop culture references and a way to work a wry note into a piece of writing, not an avoidance of the word vagina. I can tell when someone is using a euphamism out of fear and avoidance; I spoke to a friend today who insisted on saying "lady doctor" instead of gynecologist. Vagina has a bit of a medical twang to it, and I'm using mine more often for recreation than medicine, so I prefer a more casual word that brings a smile to my face.

Ruadhan said...

Also: You *really* oversimplified the relationship between Silk Spectre and The Comedian -- it's beyond "warped", it's simplified and edited to the point employed by propagandists.

If you can take a moment to get off your high-horse and actually read the GN, then the complexities of the characters would be apparent -- at least to those intelligent enough to discern them. Alan Moore considers the GN "unfilmable" for a reason.

And you can rationalise it any way you feel, but there's something very unempowering about resorting to cutesy speech for genitals. That was kind of the point of The Vagina Monologues.

Also: Wonder Woman is all about rope bondage. Seriously. Depending on who was writing for it at the time, it's been expressed as either a subtlety or an outright endorsement of said, but the entire history of that comic has been about buxom gals getting tied up erotically -- sometimes willingly, sometimes not-so-much. WHOO EMPOWERMENT!!! LOL!

My gawd, it's blogs like this that will ensure for the next decade or so that there will be a significant-enough Western population that refuses to take feminists seriously. You admit ignorance of the GN, you oversimplify things in order to point your finger and shout "Misogyny! Right there! Whaa!!!", and... You know, I've already summed up perfectly why this blog is a shining example of why I choose my women friends selectively (of course, I choose my men friends and Trans* friends equally selectively, though for slightly different reasons on both other counts). Take care of yourself.

Nerdette said...

Ruadhan - I say "va-jay-jay" because I think it's funny.

And I'm just writing my reaction. Thanks for stopping by.

Silky Johnston said...

nice blog..change the name.
Although I agree that watchmen sucked

Meredith,Destroyer of Beach Bodies said...

I absolutely agree with you. I walked out of the theatre and demanded my money back. I don't pay to see women brutalized. Also, why are the men STILL stronger than the women, even as superheros? What the fuck!

Ruadhan said...

Because, Meredeth, Silk Spectre doesn't want to be a superhero -- she's allowed her mother to force her into that mould since childhood.

and Nerdette -- your "reaction" is uninformed and thus ignorant of the topic. Alan Moore has proclaimed The Watchmen "unfilmable" for a reason. To know what's going on, you *really* need to read the GN or you're, well, in your positioon -- lost, uninformed, ignorant, and producing "reactions" based on that ignorance. And if you *really* think that Manchester Guardian writer is speaking "truth" when he says that Silk Spectre's costume was "better covered" in the GN, you're *really* proving that you didn't read the GN -- the costume in the GN was basically Vampirella fare with a see-through peignoir over it. I think it's funny that you consider yourself a feminist, since you're obviously the "type" of feminist that makes other feminists look stupid.

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