Friday, January 30, 2009

Who's watching the Watchmen?

I'm sure I will be seeing the upcoming film adaptation of Watchmen.It is far too enticing for me to be able to ignore. I have, to a certain extent, enjoyed seeing the trailers and film stills from the movie. It has been interesting and fun to see the images from the book brought to life.
However, if I could, I would go back in time and prevent the movie from being made. I've said this on various occasions to various people and am always asked why I would do such a thing. So, here are my reasons! (Many of these reasons may come off as being slightly self-righteous or sentimental, but when you've spent as much time and money on comics as i have you can feel a little bit of righteous indignation or emotional strain about the subject of your passion)

Even the best film adaptations of comic books are poor substitutes for the comic book upon which they are based (the only exception i can think of is Sin City, which is nearly an exact replica of the book). The original fans of the comic book have subconsciously adapted to the influx of Hollywood interest in comics. The most we can hope for is not a good adaptation of the comic, but that whatever Hollywood decides to pass off as an adaptation will be a good film. There have been many good films. I have liked many of them. This being said, none of them have ever been able to match the scope of wonder or the fantastic nature of a comic book.

If you've read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, or any other book on comic book theory (yes it exists), then you know that comics only function because of a certain amount of mental participation on the part of the reader. As such, comics provide the ingredients that your mind needs to create the story. Your mind creates the action that links what may often appear to be unrelated images. It is not a straightforward story-telling style like film, or arguably even prose. I cannot sit in front of a comic for a few hours and allow it to tell me a story and lead me through the plot until i reach the conclusion. Instead i have to participate with the story, and provide it with the energy it needs to tell the story. This lack of participation on the part of the movie viewer alters the very nature and feeling of the story, until the connection between the comic and the film is superficial at best.

Further, comics have no budget, no sound effects, no special effects team, no actors. In other words, comics have no limitations. If you can imagine it you can make it into a comic book. The same cannot be said of film. Subsequently, comics are often changed drastically in order to facilitate the making of a movie. I won't go into details, but one part of Watchmen has been altered entirely because what happens in the comic "just wouldn't work in a movie." As such, the film adaptations of comics water down the imaginative qualities of the original creation, leaving us too often with more high budget action movies (obs. I love high budget action movies, but not when it rides the reputation of a comic book to its grave. Case in point: Wanted).

Watchmen is such an intricate and context specific comic that any film creation of it will invariably lack the significance of the comic. As we have seen already by the removal of "Tales of the Black Freighter," and the missing plot point I mentioned above, among other things, the nature of Watchmen and it's story telling is too layered for a 2 to 3 hour film to do justice to.

Contextually, Watchmen came about as a paradigm shift in comics. The comics of the Silver age had all been awash by bright colors and 4 colour half-tone printing. The characters were often 2 dimensional do-gooders who had lost any depth of character and been emasculated by the self-imposed comic code. Watchmen, along with a few others, shifted the focus of comics away from the flat stories of meaningless vigilantes and decided instead to focus on characters, tone and theme the same as any other form of literature would. It was, in essence, the deconstruction, of the superhero. This post-modern (yipes...sorry guys, grad school) approach to superheroes is what made Watchmen revolutionary and important to comics. Will that be the case with film? No.

Further, Alan Moore, the CREATOR of Watchmen, doesn't want it made. As someone who aspires to write comics, I can't help but sympathize and side with him. Hollywood has already ruined some of his other works. They turned V into a crusader for democracy instead of the hellbent anarchist he was (In Moore's own words, V was "specifically about things like fascism and anarchy. Those words, 'fascism' and 'anarchy,' occur nowhere in the film. It's been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country"). They made such a mess of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that its not even worth talking about. From Hell was a weak attempt at translating the comic to film. Alan Moore's genius (yes, i feel justified in saying that he is a genius of the comics artform, and there are not many i would say that about) has been exploited and abused so many times, that he has asked for his name to be removed from the films based on his work, and the comics themselves. I can't imagine dedicating myself to my work and then being so repulsed by how they were treated as to want my name removed from them. Sad. In reference to Watchmen, Moore has stated "There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can't." And yet, that will be disregarded and made into another big-deal comic movie.

As a comic fan, I am tired of hollywood leaving its muddy footprint in comics while the comics industry is slowly dwindling and breaking down under the current economic conditions. I don't want to buy a comic just because it has Milo Ventimgilililila's name on it. I don't want the latest issue of the Jenna Jameson comic. I don't care to read Nick Cage and his son's comic. And on the other side of the coin, I'm tired of seeing my favorite character ruined by Ben Affleck. Im tired of directors treating comics like they are just another piece of campy kitsch that should have "BOOM!" and "SLAM!" all over it. Watchmen is not just another comic book. Watchmen is the masterpiece of comic books. It is our magnum opus. It is the great hope for all comic nerds that someday comics will be respected as a legitimate art form, and perhaps even economically viable. Instead, in recent years, we have only been reassured that comics only matter insomuch as they can provide fodder for big budget, poorly made, summer blockbuster films, and merchandising rights (for example the prequel video game that is already being made (or is made? i dunno) BARF). I may try and fist fight every douchebag i see dressed as Rorschach this halloween. (yes, im aware that half of my friends probably will.) Seeing bad variations on the joker last halloween made me just about lose my mind.

Those are my main thoughts about it. I think that's about it anyway, im tired and can't think of anything more.

They are all probably selfish reasons, but i'm ok with that. Watchmen is something special to me, and will continue to be after this movie is forgotten (go ahead: "so what's the problem if it isn't going to effect how you feel about it?!" eff you). None of them are very pragmatic, but im not interested in pragmatism right now. And like i said- will i see the movie? probably.

Please feel free to argue any point you want. I feel like i know all the counter arguments, but i'd like to see if something new comes up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


"The demand made by the imitatio Christi -- that we should follow the ideal and seek to become like it -- ought logically to have the result of developing and exalting the inner man. In actual fact, however, the ideal has been turned by superficial and formalistically-minded believers into an external object of worship, and it is precisely this veneration for the object that prevents it from reaching down into the depths of the psyche and giving the latter a wholeness in keeping with the ideal. Accordingly the divine mediator stands outside as an image, while man remains fragmentary and untouched in the deepest part of him. Christ can indeed be imitated even to the point of stigmatization without the imitator coming anywhere near the ideal of its meaning. For it is not a question of an imitation that leaves a man unchanged and makes him into a mere artifact, but of realizing the ideal on one's own account --Deo concedente-- in one's own individual life. We must not forget, however, that even a mistaken imitation may sometimes involve a tremendous moral effort which has all the merits of a total surrender to some supreme value, even though the real goal may never be reached and the value is represented externally. It is conceivable that by virtue of this total effort a man may even catch a fleeting glimpse of his wholeness, accompanied by the feeling of grace that always characterizes this experience.
If the supreme value (Christ) and the supreme negation (sin) are outside, then the soul is void: its highest and lowest are missing."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

If I were Arsene...

It's time for me to talk about soccer on my blog again...
January Transfer Window is upon us once again and Arsenal is facing real deficits in the squad. Fans have high hopes for signings that will plug the wholes and keep Arsenal from leaking goals like they have been for the first half of the season. Truth be told, i think every Arsenal fan knows that we are not going to get the signings we want. Arsene has a plan and he's sticking to it, though at the current moment, it looks as though he is doing so to the detriment of the club. If Arsenal doesn't come in at least 4th place...well, i dunno. People will be really really angry. We will lose out on Champions League play and it will probably do real financial detriment to the club. With 5 losses on the season the club is already finding it slightly more difficult to fill the stadium for every match. The club's poor form in partnership with the economic downturn felt world wide (if i hear the phrase 'credit crunch' one more time im going to lose it) makes it difficult for anyone to want to shell out more or less 50 quid to go see their team lose or draw a match they should easily win. As one of England's 'Big Four' it is not out of line for fans to expect that Arsenal wins EVERY game. Granted, it's not going to happen. But as one of Britain's most prominent team there is no other team in the league that should intimidate us; we should never enter a game thinking "well, let's shoot for a draw".
Anyway, if I were Arsene during this transfer window who would I buy?
Our most major concerns are, as every Arsenal fan knows, a central defender and a defensive midfielder. With Cesc's injury we should also be looking for someone to step up and fill the role of creative midfielder. There is also talk of wanting a secondary striker, it may be superfluous, but having a strong attack force is never bad.
I think two of these positions (maybe three) can be solved with a single purchase. Podolski. yes, he is a dick. but that's what arsenal needs right now, a real battler. Oh, and he's inexpensive (valued at 9.5? CHEAP)
For Germany/Bayern Munich he plays left midfield or secondary striker. There's no question the kid is good. He would score goals for us. I would buy him, and place him on the left in the midfield. This would free Nasri up to become the centrally positioned creative midfielder that he really is (i think Podolski and Nasri are cut from the same 'i've got heaps of talent, and i know it' cloth). This would force Diaby, Denilson, Song, Ramsey, Wilshere, and whoever else to compete for the defensive midfielder role. They should be selected NOT on account of their performance in training. But on their defensive track record. Diaby keeps talking about wanting to be an offensive piece, well pal, that's not what we need right now. If you REALLY want to be helpful, learn how to time a tackle and win the ball instead of your current role of losing the ball and short passes resulting in lost balls and injuries. I think Ramsey has the right kind of attitude and spark to fill the defensive role, but instead we are grooming him to be Cesc part II. That's great that he can pick the right pass and has great vision. Those are two of the kids NATURAL talents. Now imbue him with the ability to run NON-STOP (a la Flamini) and tackle, and you would have the most valuable midfielder in the world.
If we were to buy Arshavin (and let's face it, we're buying Arshavin) and picked up Podolski as well our attacking would be second to none.
Defending, i have less of an opinion on. I feel as though the main problem is that our defenders don't communicate and cannot defend together. That can be fixed. Or if you want to throw in Upson. Go for it. But for the most part i think that our defense can be improved a lot by making them have a slumber party and stop treating each other like dicks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

it's been a while...

in what my mother would consider "avoidance behavior" (doing things to avoid the responsible things you have to do) i've been looking through old emails. i never throw anything away so there's lots of old weird stuff in there. There's stuff that makes me laugh, stuff that makes me cry, stuff i wish i didn't remember etc. etc.
I've encountered two emails that made me laugh/made me wonder what made me think i was cut out for grad school. i thought you might like to see them and laugh too.
#1 (after having been arrested)

This is Joshua Everett from the Political Science 357 class. I'm
afraid I won't be able to make it to class tomorrow as I have to spend
the morning in court. I don't know how long I will be in court, but I
can either email you the paper in the afternoon, or bring a printed
copy on Wednesday, however you prefer. Just let me know, and I will do
my best to oblige.
Thank you so much.
Joshua Everett


Wed is fine since that's when it's due.

oh jeez.
My name is Joshua Everett and I'm in your Book of Mormon 122h (sec 91)
class. We just got our tests back yesterday, and I encountered a
problem with mine. I have no idea how it happened, and i feel somewhat
sheepish about it, but somehow when taking the test I missed the
entire back page. I suppose that somehow it must have stuck together
or i just was oblivious to it's existence. Subsequently I missed an
extra 50 points on the test. Is there anyway I can fix this? Maybe
something I can do to make up that 50 points? I would be pretty bummed
if my grade were affected so heavily by a case of human error.
If there is anything I can do, please let me know. I'd be more than
happy to do it.

Seriously josh, you missed the entire back page?!
more will probably follow soon.