…I’m sorry if the only comics your mommy let you read were Richie Rich and Archie, but before you go hating on comic book fans, you might want to get to know a few. You know, like your fucking president.
The New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane, in his review of “Watchmen,” casually dismisses comic-book fans as “leering nineteen-year-olds” who fear “meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation.” Adam Serwer offers a welcome response.
I’m not going to argue with Lane over the quality of a film I haven’t seen, but I really find it hard to understand why comic book fans are the subject of such persistent abuse. You’d think we clubbed baby seals for a living or perhaps sold sub-prime mortgages. The unbridled contempt for people who like comic books reaches something close to the feelings people have for parking cops and tax collectors.
Comic book nerds can count Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow and Patrick Leahy among us…. Whatever Lane’s opinions of Watchmen’s source material, comic books are the closest thing Americans have to folktales, and their content is about as close as a reflection of American cultural identity, for good or for ill, as we have. You’d think that for that reason alone, the material and its consumers would be worth at least a minimum of respect.
As it happens, right around the time Adam was posting his defense of comic-book readers everywhere, Matt Yglesias (comic-book reader) referenced a remark by Ana Marie Cox (another comic-book reader) about Watchmen and contemporary politics, which Matt then expanded on to make a point about Cold War policy towards Russia.
It’s almost as if comic books have something compelling to offer to those who aren’t socially-awkward teenagers.
Which you would’ve known if you’d ever bothered to read one, you lackwit.
Observe what Watchmen has to teach us. In a post entitled “What Obama Could Learn from Watchmen,” Yglesias relays the following:
Ana Marie Cox does a webchat for The Washington Post:
Singapore: Obama likes comics; can he learn anything from Watchmen?
Ana Marie Cox: We can all learn something from the Watchmen. Personally, I hope he repeals the law against costumed vigilantes soon.
More seriously (tho not totally so), I think Cheney and Bush modeled their presidency on Ozymandias.
Watchmen was written during the Thatcher and Reagan years, when it seemed the whole world was going batshit insane (subsequent myths notwithstanding). Nonfiction books on politics don’t achieve the level of discourse this comic does. It’s one of those things that shows us how our world really works by holding a mirror up to it and watching while we recoil in horror, and then edge closer in fascination. We’re in 1984 territory here. And yes, if you’ve never read it and you’re wondering, Ozymandias is an excellent analogue for Bush. Both of them did horrific things with a relentless sense that they were right and good. Both of them seemed incapable of introspection. And both of them suckered people in by appearing heroic at the outset – although in Bush’s case, it took a nation too shell-shocked by 9/11 to think so.
Social commentary? Relevance? Meta-themes? Oh, it’s got it, in spades.
So look, you pissant little wretch of a reviewer, before you uncap your pen again and make an absolute ass of yourself by hating on those who have better reading comprehension skills than you, try actually reading some comics. Hang out in the comic store on New Comic Wednesday. Chat up the people who’re coming in for their fix… shit, no, on second thought, don’t. It’s always sad when someone who thinks they’re all that and a box of pet rocks gets taken off at the knees by those with superior intellect. Wise yourself up first. Read Watchmen, read these, and then maybe you’ll understand that the Comics Code Authority stopped castrating comics a long fucking time ago.
But I’m not holding out much hope for you. Someone who apparently didn’t both to watch Watchmen before reviewing it is probably far beyond rescue.