Debbie Schlussel completely misses the point of ‘Watchmen’
You’ve probably heard the schoolyard snap: "Yo’mama’s so dumb she failed a Rorschach test." I never thought I’d find a case where it’s actually true, but lo and behold, Arne Starr pointed me to one.
Perhaps you know the old joke: A man goes to a psychologist and says, "Doc, I got a real problem… I can’t stop thinking about sex."
The psychologist says, "Well let’s see what we can find out", and pulls out his ink blots. "What is this a picture of?"
The man looks the picture upside down then turns it around and states, "That’s a man and a woman on a bed making love."
"Uh-huh. And what is this a picture of?"
"Well, that’s a man and a woman on a bicycle making love."
The psychologist tries again with the third ink blot. "What is this a picture of?"
"Obviously, that’s a man and a woman in a volcano making love."
The psychologist states, "Well, yes, you do seem to be obsessed with sex."
"Me? Doctor, you’re the one who keeps showing me the dirty pictures!"
Which brings us to Debbie Schlussel. Debbie is a conservative activist and occassional movie critic and she thinks that if you see Watchmen, you’re "probably a moron and a vapid, indecent human being."
She spends the first half of her review saying that the movie isn’t for children (no "kidding", Debbie, that’s why it has an R rating) and bemoans the fact that "plenty of clueless parents brought their young kids and kept them there for the entire almost three hour "experience" at the screening I attended". Now, her article went up on March 4th, so the only way that she could have seen it would have been at some sort of industry screening or press event. I’ve been to a few of them in my day, and I never remember children being present at such events.
She also decries the amounts of sex, violence, brutality, bad language, and other things that make her feel icky.
But most amazingly, she claims to be a great conservative thinker, and yet somehow never connects with the core question of the film. And that core question is this:
How far will you go to save your world?
It’s really a simple question, but it has very complicated answers.
Would you kill a child molester who fed his victim to his dogs? Obvious sexual deviancy, right? What about killing lesbians, then?
Would you break into prison to release a criminal? What if you knew he wasn’t a criminal, but couldn’t prove it?
Would you shoot police officers who were getting in your way of saving the world? How about if they were just preventing you from beating up on crooks?
Would you lie to bring down a presidential candidate, perhaps by accusing him of being a Muslim (like that’s bad in and of itself) in order to save the country? In Debbie’s case, we already know her answer to that question, character assassination is okay— so how about assassinating the President outright? Is that cool? Or assassinating reporters who might bring government misdeeds to light?
Would you kill a person to protect the world? How about killing someone in self-defense?
How about more than one person? How about three? Thirty? Three thousand? Three hundred thousand? Three million people? How many people is it okay to kill in order to protect the world? Would you fly a plane into a building? Would you invade a country? Would you nuke a city?
Who appoints themselves to make these decisions? And who watches over them?
All of these are valid questions brought up, implicitly or explicitly, in Watchmen. And if Ms. Schlussel was a deep thinker, or had any self-awareness at all, some of those questions might occur to her.
But Ms. Schlussel, sadly, can’t see any of that.
All she sees… are dirty pictures.
One more note: Ms. Schlussel goes way overboard in a follow up piece, complete with a Godwin’s Law violation:
Poor Hitler. If only he’d made Mein Kampf into a comic book instead of an actual written screed. Then, the ovens of Auschwitz and the human lampshades would be all the rage and cool of kitsch.
As it happens, I happen to have Hitler’s thoughts on the matter: