(My actual review of the film can be found here. That post I'm holding off on is still M.I.A.)
I’m holding off on that other Watchmen post because I think I might, um, be wrong about something fairly central to my argument. In the meantime, I have a declaration to make: I love Debbie Schlussel. Her review of Watchmen is simply to die for. To wit:
If you take your kids to see “The Watchmen,” you’re a moron. If you see it yourself, you’re also probably a moron and a vapid, indecent human being.
Set aside the fact that she punts the film’s title. Set aside the fact that she punts the film’s title even though the poster is included in the post. Concentrate instead on how she castigates hypothetical parents who would take their children to an R-rated film. Who is her audience? Who does she imagine it is?
I know, it’s being heavily marketed as a superhero movie, with action figures for your kids.
I see now—her audience consists of people who never click on links. Because if they did, they’d see Schlussel links to a limited run of 5,000 figures designed for I-buy-Power-Girl-statuettes crowd. But what about the hypothetical children? Who will care for the hypothetical children?
But then, we see cops looking over their naked, bloodied, dead bodies on a bed, with the words “LESBIAN WHORES,” written in blood on the wall.
Mommy, mommy, what’s a lesbian? What’s a whore?
So our hypothetical terrible parent takes her hypothetical toddler to see an R-rated movie and—what’s an R-rated picture again?
An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.
Thank you, official Motion Picture Association of America guidelines. Let’s compare rubric of the R-rating to Schlussel’s litany of offensive scenes in the film:
Schlussel: Two superheroes have an explicit sex scene in a spaceship–she’s on top, then he’s on top, awesome–you can teach your young kids multiple sexual positions before they even reach puberty, by taking them to see this (there’s a less explicit sex scene between the slutty superheroine and another superhero not long before that).
MPAA: . . . sexually-oriented nudity . . .
Schlussel: Superhero “The Comedian” (a bad Robert Downey, Jr. look-alike) brutally beating and raping another superhero[.]
MPAA: . . . adult themes . . .
Schlussel: [S]uperheroes hurling obscenities[.]
MPAA: . . . hard language . . .
Schlussel: A man’s hands and arms being sawed off with an electric saw–we’re shown the bloody stumps and the bloody sawed off limbs in close up shots[.]
MPAA: . . . intense or persistent violence . . .
Seems Schlussel has been offended by the very elements the MPAA guidelines predict will be in an R-rated film. Her whole argument, then, is that some parents would be dumb enough to take young children to a film that no one believes young children should see—and that only Debbie Schlussel can save them from their own craven stupidity. That can’t be right. She can’t possibly fashion herself Debbie Schlussel: Defender of the Morbidly Obtuse. Or can she?
THE THING IS THAT MOST PARENTS DON’T READ THE GRAPHIC NOVELS AND ARE UNAWARE THAT IT’S NOT REALLY A SUPERHERO MOVIE.
Of course she can. That she responds to criticism in ALL CAPS* means we should rename her DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL: DEFENDER OF THE MORBIDLY OBTUSE. But only some of them:
UH, I DON’T NEED TO “DO MY HOMEWORK” WHEN I WATCH AND CRITIQUE A MOVIE THAT’S SICKENING AND MARKETED AT KIDS. ALL I NEED TO DO IS WATCH IT AND KEEP MY SANITY, WHICH ALL OF YOU WATCHMEN IDIOTS APPARENTLY LONG AGO GAVE UP. NO, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE INTELLIGENT TO FULLY ENJOY IT. ON THE CONTRARY, AS YOU AND THE OTHER WATCHMEN IDIOTS HAVE DEMONSTRATED, YOU HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE FLIPPING IDIOT WITH ZERO INTELLECT AND SOUL. CALLING THIS STUPID STORYLINE A FANTASTIC PLOT JUST SHOWS HOW SIMPLE AND EMPTY YOU ARE.
Calm down now, Debbie. See? No more ALL CA—
AND THANKS FOR EDUCATING ME THAT RAPE AND GRISLY VIOLENCE IS HIGH CULTURE THAT I DON’T “GET.” GO TELL IT TO YOUR FRIENDS AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE FILM CLASS OR G.E.D. SCHOOL. IT MIGHT FLY THERE. FYI, MEIN KAMPF IS A VISION OF AN ALTERNATE WORLD. MAYBE WE SHOULD WORSHIP THAT, TOO, AIRHEAD.
Now look here, Deb—
THANKS FOR EXPLAINING TO ME THE COMPLETELY IDIOTIC REASONING BEHIND SUPPORTING AND MINDLESSLY DEFENDING THIS PIECE OF CRAP. WE KNOW WHO THE IDIOT IS–THE GUY YOU SEE IN YOUR MIRROR. IF SOMEONE RAPES YOUR MOTHER AND SLICES OFF YOUR LIMBS WITH AN ELECTRIC SAW, I WON’T CARE, BECAUSE, AFTER ALL IT WAS IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL FIRST, “YOU IDIOT.” SO WE SHOULD CELEBRATE THIS KIND OF THING. OH, AND I THINK I’LL DONATE A CAPE AND MASK TO THE RAPIST/LIMB-CUTTER. BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, WE MUST BREAK THE MOLD OF THE SUPERHERO AND CELEBRATE IT. ANTI-CHOICE? SHE MADE THE CHOICE WHEN SHE HAD A KID. THIS IS CHILD ABUSE, BUT HEY, IT WAS IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL AND BREAKS THE MOLD OF SUPERHEROES.
Could someone grab the thoraz—
THE BACKGROUND EXCUSE. SO, IF THERE’S A “BACKGROUND” OF A “GRAPHIC NOVEL” THAT MAKES ALL OF THIS GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND DEPRAVITY LIKE TOTALLY AWESOME. I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IT’S ABOUT AND THE BACKGROUND, AND THAT DOESN’T JUSTIFY A THING. SO SAD FOR HITLER–HE COMMITTED SUICIDE WAY TOO SOON. IF HE’D ONLY HUNG ON TO THE YEAR 2009 AND THE “BACKGROUND” AND “GRAPHIC NOVEL” EXCUSE, THAT WOULD MAKE THINGS SO MUCH BETTER. I GOT THE “MESSAGE”–NOT SURE HOW IT JUSTIFIES A THING. SOME SAY HITLER HAD A “GREAT MESSAGE.” EVER READ MEIN KAMPF? I GUESS MAYBE A MESSAGE JUSTIFIES COOKING PEOPLE IN OVENS, TOO. BUT, HEY, HE FORGOT TO MAKE MEIN KAMPF INTO A GRAPHIC NOVEL. BIG MISTAKE.
I’m sure she’ll calm down and realize that her reaction was a little rash.
We know there are bad people and that people are everyday people with problems. If you don’t know that, and you think a movie like this is necessary to make the point, you’re even more warped and stupid than I originally diagnosed. And maybe your sister should be fed to dogs and your mother raped and your brother should have his arms sawed off.
Or not. I’m sure she speaks for conservatives everywhe—
I love Rorschach was amazing . . . [a]nd Rorschach is this Conservative’s hero.
Must be an outlier. There’s always someone who mis—
I think Rorschach will do in the general population exactly what he did in the comics community. He’ll seem to be disturbed at first, but actually come away unintentionally by the creators, as the hero of the piece.
So . . . more on Manhattan as a figure of the reader as soon as I quell my doubts.
*I’m aware she has an explanation for why she does this. But as I noted in my first post about my course, even when Alan Moore uses ALL CAPS in 1985 he still looks like an internet crank. Schlussel seems to not understand the rhetorical effect of her purely practical explanation. It doesn’t help her case that the content of her ALL CAPS commentary frequently scales the heights of internet crankdom . . .