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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Blind Watchmenmaker

The internet will look up and scream, "Write us an article!"


And I'll whisper, "Come on, guys, I've got a headache and I've had a rough week. Oh fine, I'll write the damn article. Damn internet."


Does this make me crazy? Probably.


Keeper's Journal, February 10, 2012.


The Tubes are full of nerds, and the nerds are full of rage.


Nerd rage.


DC announced a whole slew of prequels, prequels to WATCHMEN, the Sacred Cow of Comics. Alan Moore denounced it. Dave Gibbons stayed out of it. Might be the only sane man here. Might be a coward. Might be losing the thread of this article. Hrm.


Problem is, there's not a lot more to say about WATCHMEN. DC is trying, but like a dumb blogger aping Rorschach's prose style, final product bound to come off as a cheep imitation.


It all comes back to theme.


See, the power of WATCHMEN was a deconstruction. Its power came from its theme and how it used the warped, twisted psyches of its characters to strip away the assumptions of the Superhero Comic. It laid the dark truths inherent in the genre bare. But in the process, it mined the whole of its promise. Entire premise based on deconstructing the characters individually in a compressed space. Result is a series of portraits that seem complete in and of themselves. So, the theme and characters have nowhere to go. It's a thematic planned obsolescence not seen in the ongoing stories told about nancyboys like that Superman or half-rate losers like Spiderman (Possibly homosexual? Hrm).


So where do you go when all avenues explored with character and theme?


You start tearing down the previous work.


Good Fanfiction is a model for this. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality good example. Responds to the work by telling a new story while analyzing the nature of the old one, in this case by picking apart the nature of Wizard society. Hell, it's what Watchmen did to comics in the first place.


My suggestion? Simple. To make the Prequels good respond to the original work. Don't just write prequels, write responses. One good way: where Moore and Gibbons made everything grim and gritty, find way to reintroduce hope. Of course, limited by the nature of the chronology, but wouldn't it be cool to see prequels used to deconstruct some of the original's qualities? KINGDOM COME good model for this: it's a comic that pushes back against the grim darkness of the 1990s and ends up finding hope and beauty in superheros again.


Another suggestion: patch the holes in the original. What's the biggest hole?


Rorschach.


People keep making the mistake of thinking he's awesome. This is a failure of both the reader and of Moore and Gibbons. Sooner we acknowledge that--and the fact that WATCHMEN isn't an unassailable work of staggering genius--sooner we can start picking apart why a murderous, psychopathic, ultraconservative, heterosexist, misogynistic monster appeals so much to comic fans. I would love to hold in my hands a comic that expresses just what a warped, inhuman individual Walter Kovaks is. Would be a creative masterstroke, and hugely important to the culture of fandom as a whole.


Weird thing is, this isn't going to happen. Doubt it will, anyway. And, indirectly, it's because of the fans--fans like me who are criticizing the venture.


Not to say the fans are wrong. No, I don't think it's crazy to feel like DC is pulling something sleazy here, and I know crazy. I know all about crazy. I think most fans sense what I wrote about above, even if they're not consciously aware of it. See, people know how stories work. We're wired to get stories. So we know when a story is over, even if we don't know consciously that we're experiencing it that way.


Problem is, that gets translated into Sacred Cow phenomenon. Fans interpret the completion of the story as the PERFECTION of the story. They look at the self contained nature and conclude that nothing more can be said. So, the conclusion is that WATCHMEN is untouchable when really it's just very cohesive in its scope. It's a misunderstanding similar to FILM CRIT HULK's concept of tangible details.


The unfortunate result of that conclusion is that you can't start picking WATCHMEN apart without nerd rage flooding the streets like an ocean of blood. Hrm. All the whores and liberals and politicians look up and scream, "WHERE IS THE SQUIDGINA?! WE WANT TENTACLE MONSTERS!!" and your movie spawns flamewars that ignite whole message boards in holy cleansing fire. Talked about this before in another article.


So what would happen if DC tried to publish a prequel that deconstructed the original work?


Mayhem.


Really, think about people who love Rorschach. They're wrong about loving him and admiring him. But what would happen if DC published a prequel making that clear? Again, mayhem. The reaction would run something like:


"DC is totally ruining WATCHMEN! They don't understand it at all! They made Rorschach suck!"


Misses the point, of course. Hypothetical!DC only exposing what's present, but unclear, in original text, but the fanbois won't see it that way.


So let me predict what will happen. DC has hired fans of WATCHMEN that will treat the material with respect, but ultimately won't take the themes anywhere new, because A. the company is probably aware of what the fans would do if they tried to put out something as revolutionary as the original work and B. the writers and artists are, themselves, fans and, I suspect, probably feel an obligation to the original comic. It's the Sacred Cow. You don't mess with the Sacred Cow, or Rorschach breaks your fingers.


All this totally ignores the ethics of DC's contract with Moore, of course. Not sure what I think about that. But I think it shows that creatively BEFORE WATCHMEN is a non-starter. And people can sense it, even if they can't articulate why. Deep down in their bones they know that it's just too lofty a goal.


And besides, writing like Rorschach is enough to drive anyone nuts. Wouldn't wish this shit on anyone. Going to go watch MY LITTLE PONY or something. Hrm.

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The comments section is afraid of me. I've seen its true face. If you like what you've read, share it--Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Equestria Daily, Xanga, Netscape, or whatever else you whores and liberals are using to surf the blogoblag these days.

In a double blind test, how many people could tell the difference between Rorschach's journals and Frank Miller's tirades? Research this later. Hrm.

3 comments:

  1. I thought this post was pretty hilariously written. There were a few times you dropped character, but I think it was probably necessary - there's a lot of things Rorschach probably doesn't have the capacity to say. Not a bad article! =D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Honestly, the entire time I read this, I was just reminded of the letter to Fox regarding the Watchmen movie and eating all the dicks.
    http://www.cracked.com/blog/fox-can-eat-several-dicks/
    It kind of made it hard to focus on the actual article with that in my head. Still, well done. I don't think you mimicked the Rorschach writing style perfectly, but close. In my head, I read it in your voice doing a Rorschach impersonation, which, really, I think is probably for the best.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So it basically comes down to sequel-itis, right? The new work restates what the old work did, but without the relevancy. This happens on a smaller scale all over comics. See the Crisis on Infinite Earths sequels for the most ridiculous version. It's easy money. We can't really blame DC for that. You did a great job of showing how the fans are responsible for this crap.

    Now, here's the practical question; Can we fix this?

    ReplyDelete

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