Monday, March 02, 2009

Against The New (The Watchmen )

I was addicted to superhero comics when I was young and not so young ; the Watchmen promises to be an interesting addition to the film oeuvre. As ever I see a philosophical purpose in my predilections .
One of the things I detest about the steam-cleaned soulless world we have made is its obsession with the new. In the fin de si├Ęcle fag end of the Blair Brown period I look back on its endless initiatives with a weary contempt .Even now the confusion between fidgeting and useful activity besets them, as they seek to combat a rising tide by energetically making sand castles like children ,but I digress .Today I am exercising my atrophied culture muscle .
In artistic terms the “Cool Britannia “zeitgeist was best caught by the “Angel of The North” .This 'Regional initiative ',( the very words are revolting )..parachuted in an an obet d`merde “ which makes a virtue of its disconnectedness with the North , its landscape ,and angels .As a contribution to national barbarity it earns its corn well. There is also a faintly unpleasant gesture towards corporate figurative horrors that scar the City and ornament the antechamber of accountants and hairdressers alike . It is New Labour in statue form.

Super hero comics are an organic genre with archaeological layers available for the artist and audience . The Watchmen saga was published by
DC Comics in single issues during 1986 and 1987, and originated from a story proposal Moore submitted to DC featuring superhero characters that the company had acquired from Charlton Comics. The character were re invented but they have roots going back to the 1940s , the so called golden age and reinventions on the “Silver age” of the 50s. By the 80s the form was ripe for deconstruction and shared understanding allowed vastly complex narrative structures and contemporary myth.
I love the way the innocent 40s are called the golden age with its echoes of Greek myth , I love the accretion of meaning over decades . Malory probably started work on Le Morte d'Arthur in prison but although he was transcribing stories with centuries of retelling behind them . The tales of knights and adventures have much in common with the super hero stories and a direct line of descent can be traced via the Gothic novels of the 19th century . These tales are almost sub literary and refresh ancient archetypes . Here the depth and freedom of tradition in art has been retained while high culture disappears into its fundament .
The Watchmen is set in an alternate reality which closely mirrors the contemporary world of the 1980s. The primary point of divergence is the presence of superheroes. Their existence in this iteration of America is shown to have dramatically affected and altered the outcomes of real-world events such as the
Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard Nixon. In keeping with the realism of the series, although the costumed crime fighters of Watchmen are commonly called "superheroes", the only character who possesses obvious superhuman powers is Doctor Manhattan.The existence of Doctor Manhattan has given the U.S. a strategic advantage over the Soviet Union..... Now how intruiging is that !
This tale is a “Fallen “ story in which aging and disappointed characters manouver in a Noire world of savage surrealism but it relies on an intense relationship with an innocent past , of Captain America and the “Golden age .I have so often been disappointed but I will be sitting in cinema on my own hoping to be transported into myth.

3 comments:

Auntie Flo' said...

Brillant post.

You're right, there is a sort of golden thread of universality that runs through these wonderful heroic archetypes. Here, the eternal battle of good versus evil is played out and it stretches back to time immemorial.

It weaves through our glorious medieval morality plays too, with their echoes of Greek Drama and Roman Comedia d'Elle Arte. And those morality plays were an inspiration to Shakespeare.

Newmania said...

Thanks Flo you are a weety , I thought it was only me but these things are my secret passion

Newmania said...

sweety !

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