Watchmen: the problem with critics

A stimulating analysis of some of the big themes in the graphic novel Watchmen and a critique of criticism and its relativism.

Shot Behind The Theatre

Who-Watches-the-Watchmen-watchmen-14960175-1440-900Watchmen is a novel where one agent of authority needs another agent of authority to monitor the decisions of the first and, if need be, steer it in the right direction. The monitoring agent is a “watchman”. The watchman will interfere if the authority is about to do wrong or a problem could not be solved without their intervention. The situation in the novel is that the American government, a watchman of the American people, is in a Cuban missile crisis-like situation with the Russians and are about to initiate an attack that will hopefully wipe out the Soviets with “acceptable American losses”. You’ve heard this buzzword if you’ve seen Dr. Strangelove. However, in order to avert nuclear war, Ozymandias, a self-proclaimed superhero, devises a plan with his money and intelligence to prevent a confrontation, and manages to sacrifice a few million less than originally projected for the greater good…

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4 thoughts on “Watchmen: the problem with critics

  1. I’m a bit behind-hand on your blog, but working to catch up (I’ve a long way to go!). The original post raises interesting points about *Watchmen*, but I found myself writing a long response to the ideas about criticism — and then deleted it. It was starting to sound like a diatribe. No one needs to see that.

    In brief, I don’t believe critics see themselves as objective arbiters. Anyone who has watched Siskel and Ebert, or compared book reviews across newspapers, will understand the role of individual tastes in interpretation. “Web of conversation” is the most apt metaphor for criticism — few actually join the conversation (most of us are happy watching from the sidelines), but those who do must (I hope) recognize the futility of discovering the “truth” within any text, but join the conversation anyway because it’s so much fun.

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