Friday, January 7, 2022

Don't Be Any Of These People

I'm not the biggest fan of Watchmen but it occurs to me that one of its strengths is that it presents an oddity in heroic fiction: a compelling and differentiated cast of characters who are all wrong.

At least from their creators' point of view. We know this was intentional because neither Dave Gibbons nor Alan Moore are exactly quiet about their beliefs or their takes on the characters.

Watchmen arguably says a lot of things, but it unarguably says these:

  • Don't be Rorschach--don't be so focused on whatever injustices blows across your windscreen that you become a right-wing crank blind to finding ways to fix the bigger picture.
  • Don't be Adrian Veidt--don't be so arrogantly obsessed with your clever solution to the bigger picture that you are willing to ignore the horror and injustice right in front of you that it creates.
  • Don't be Dr Manhattan--if you have the cleverness and power to fix things, think about it and then help fix them, don't just pull a technocratic Pontius Pilate and go along with whichever of those other two assholes moves first.
  • Don't be Laurie and Dan--yes, you get to go home and be in love and have weird sex and act normal and relatable in your quiet home--but you let millions of people die because you want to pretend all this interdimensional squid-murder is over your head and too big to take on.
I have met all these people in the last three years, honestly, and they are different monsters. It has been important to know that.


We now know for a scientific fact that, at least so far, fictions where you're personally asked to try to model the good guy don't make people who play them any better. We also know for a scientific fact that reading and enjoying Watchmen hasn't made people better or more thoughtful either.

However, the richness and plausibility of its moral grays does, at least, seem to give it a better chance at entertaining smart people than a fiction whose main selling point is reminding them that good things are good.





Benjamin Cusack said...

What about the comedian?

Zak Sabbath said...


I guess I forgot because he's not there at the end.

But anyway, if someone's not smart enough to see what's wrong with Comedian, I doubt they'll get much out of reading the blog entry.

Simon Tsevelev said...

Also don't be doc Malcolm, turning sick people into useful tidbits for your career, don't be the people on the island, creating monsters for someone's grand plan, et cetera et cetera. Out of all the monsters in the book, I find Rorschach to be the less monstrous.
Or maybe he's just the monster I prefer to be, I dunno.

Zak Sabbath said...


He has half the best lines and the best costume by far, but I think trying to pick one that's "less monstrous" or trying to pick one to be is another way of missing the point. Don't be a right-wing crank.

Be someone not in that story.

Luca Lorenzon said...

Bubastis, maybe...

Zak Sabbath said...


Don't be a pet, waiting to be disintegrated as collateral damage.

Simon Tsevelev said...

Yeah, I see your point, it's a good point.

Savage Wombat said...

You could be Bernie (either) I suppose - even as doom is closing in, reach out to your fellow human beings

Zak Sabbath said...

@Savage Wombat

In Watchmen those bystanders are clueless and die and so do the people they reach out to.

So: they're sweet but their ignorance is their undoing as surely as Dan and Laurie's "oh this is over our heads".

Adamantyr said...

Pretty much you don't want to be ANYONE in the Watchmen universe. Who wants to live in a place created by Moore's mind?

That said... what about Seymour? Who may just change everything at the end.

Zak Sabbath said...


Adamantyr said...

The New Frontiersman assistant who finds Rorschach's journal in the crank file and appears about to publish it. (I had to dig to find his actual name myself.)

Zak Sabbath said...


Adamantyr said...

Actually let's flip this... who is a character in a fictional narrative (comic, book, TV show, movie, video game, whatever) you should actually STRIVE to be?

Zak Sabbath said...

Bouncing Boy

Adamantyr said...

Oh hell yeah!

Simon Tsevelev said...

Bouncing Boy is cool. That's a part of you that I never expected to see.

Zak Sabbath said...


Erased—no anonymous comments allowed, mp.

Zak Sabbath said...


I've said many times:

I am doing the work necessary to fix the situation and hold the people responsible accountable.

Why do you ask?

Zak Sabbath said...


You were asked a question and didn't answer.

You're banned until you address that.