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Friday, February 20, 2009

RedState's Dysorthographical Approach - or - How Another Conservative Just Misses The Point

I loathe a film critic.

They are often overpaid hacks that lacked the mental fortitude to create films of their own and opt to tear down that which they wish they had created.

Then again, some film critics have a valid point to make. But, that usually ends up getting lost in a tangle of tangentical ramblings and overt self-agrandization.

The later is where we find Warner Todd Huston and his commentors at RedState in a review of the original WATCHMEN series called "Unheroic Superheroes, Watch out for the Watchmen".

During Huston's seemingly endless preamble, clearly meant to give the reader the impression that he knows what he is talking about, he talks about how "dark" art has become and the saddness that he feels that art doesn't reflect the sunny nature of the world.

When he finally gets to "reviewing" WATCHMEN, it becomely blisteringly apparent that he has no clue what the material is about.

As to subject matter, it wasn’t “just a comic book.” It hit all the 80’s hot-button issues. Homosexuality, rape, war with Russia and “the bomb,” crooked US politicians, corruption, murder, sexual impotency, welfare mammas, and homicidal maniacs were all aspects of the story line. It even indulges in demonization of Nixon directly, and Ronald Reagan by inference. But it’s philosophy of nihilism and anarchy was its underlying message.

Having been a fan of the series for many years, the final sentence in that paragraph brought out a healthy dose of laughter.

In Alan Moore's own words, the series was primarily about deconstructing the superhero mythos and placing them in a "credible, real world".

How would a superhero act if they were forced to "retire", banned by the government, had to face the fact that their days of glory were gone - as well as those that once adored them?

This next part is where Huston's thought-train derails at top speed.

Obviously, the series is a commentary on the human condition as much as it is on the politics contemporary to the publishing of the work as intended by writer, Alan Moore. Moore is from a long line of political leftists and has repeatedly said in interviews that his comic series was intended to be a left-leaning commentary on political ideaology. Man is the greatest evil of all, despair is the only possible reality, and peace is but fleeting seem to be the core messages in Watchmen. And in all of this, the western world makes it even worse. Watchmen is all told on the backdrop of a fallen and corrupt western society.

But, this idea, that man will ruin everything eventually, could certainly have been told sans the ill informed and badly thought out political commentary running underneath. The basic tenets of leftist thought that forms the basic point of view in this series are proven failures and this detracts from what could have been a better story. The fact that the Left’s ideas are failures was even realizable during the era in which the book was written and not just in hindsight as we re-read it today. From the hatred of American politics, to doubt of American character, and the equalization of all ideologies to the lowest common denominator, this series fails in its political philosophy.

Huston's obvious inflammatory dig at Moore's alleged political ideology aside ( how exactly does Huston know of Moore's family background? Is he speaking in abstracts with the intent of directly his moral outrage at the comics industry? ) he greatly underestimates the ability for a writer like Moore to put aside his own socio-political preconceptions and write from the perspective of his protagonist(s).

To put it simply, Moore has a way of taking prominent elements of the present-day, as well as the past, and placing them within the clearly defined construct of a story that is speculative fiction. He has the ability to divorce himself from the notion a comic-character has to be of a "comic" nature. WATCHMEN is not, and never was, marketed toward children, despite any claims by Huston or any other conservative writer attempting to change the intended meaning of whatever story they are misrepresenting.

And when talking about "meaning" and WATCHMEN, that term - in and of itself - has to be used in the most general of ways. The reason being, is that there are multiple levels which the story operates on.

To simply claim that Moore is attempting to produce a story that is nothing more than thinly neiled "anarchistic" or "nhilistic" thought is to completely misunderstand the source material.

With this one sentence, Huston reveals himself as simply another lunatic-fringe right-winger with a blinding ideology he is attempting to push. Not only that, but he falls prey to the proto-typical "anti-American" meme used by people like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. If a story doesn't portray America or her governing body - at the time WATCHMEN was written and published it was Reagan who was President - as nobel, as a country and a people that can do no wrong, then you are wrong. This is the thesis statement of far-right thought.


Huston's review drags on with hamfisted attempts at explaining the traits and meaning behind each of the characters, and then actually asking why Moore's doesn't write something "uplifting".

WATCHMEN is not about one political thought versus another. Moore, in this writer's opinion, would find that concept not only laughable, but utterly pathetic.

I know that I can't say that I know WATCHMEN more than another person. This was, and more than likely will remain, Warner Todd Huston's complete failure in writing this particular ream of clap-trap.

The only person that knows the material well enough to have the final word is Alan Moore. There are plenty of places for you to read or hear what he has to say about it. And, knowing Moore's attitudes towards bringing up WATCHMEN, I'm sure he would be as apt to tell Mr. Huston to kick-rocks rather than have to address such a feeble attempt at twisting a story's intended meaning.

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