Friday, June 3, 2011

Decosntructing "The Watchmen": Rorschach

If you fuck up, he WILL fuck you up.
Last time I expounded on the complexity of the character The Comedian, and after I wrote it I got the feeling that he was sort of a representation for absurdist thought.  Then when I started thinking about Rorschach and what I would say about him, I realized that these two characters are not only diametrically opposed, but that they are representative of personalities in human society.

Rorschach was easily the most hard-core out of all the Watchmen.  When he was young he tracked down a child kidnapper only to discover that the kidnapper had chopped up the little girl and fed her to his dogs.  At that moment he dedicated his life to brining brutal, violent justice to criminals.

Throughout the movie it becomes apparent that the word “compromise,” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary, except to deny that it is a viable concept.  “Never compromise,” he often says.  He proves to be difficult to get along with, even for his friends, and it is largely due to his brutal, abrasive nature.

He and The Comedian are similar in that both of them, at one point, had “seen the true face of human nature.”  They understood what life was really like, and they both knew that it was cold and harsh.

The difference between them, though, is in how they chose to deal with it.  While the Comedian thought it funny that he was tasked to protect humanity from itself, Rorschach took it seriously.  It might be because Rorschach, although in his moral absolutism felt that most people were disgusting wretches and not worth saving, actually believed that he could save humanity by rooting out its evil wherever it may surface.

That makes sense as to why Rorschach was a vigilante to the end.  He never gave up his fight against the injustice of the world, and he was never willing to compromise.  Rorschach represents most people in today’s society, I think.

If it isn’t most people, then I think he represents too many people in society.  It’s really easy to be an absolutist, whether it pertains to morals or political ideology.  Life was simpler for Rorschach (although he was on the lamb a lot after vigilantes were outlawed in that universe), because his choices were easy: if you’re a law abiding citizen, you’re good to go; if you’re a criminal in any way, shape, or form, you’re going to get beaten badly.

It’s either right or wrong.  There’s no in between for most people.  Either the facts are correct or they’re complete lies.  Most believe either that the budget deficit is a problem or it’s not.  There are few people who would look at any given situation objectively and try to take their own personal bias out of it.  We’ve all seen the girl fed to the dogs, and I would argue that most of us come unglued like Rorschach.

Although most people don’t become violent vigilantes for their ideas, they are vehemently opposed to any sort of compromise of their ideas.  One dumbass on Crooks and Liars tried to tell me that there’s no such thing as welfare lifers anymore because Clinton passed a law in the 90’s that made it impossible to be on welfare for life.  When I told him that welfare lifers exist, that I’ve worked with teens whose parents were unemployed and still getting welfare, and that there are welfare lifers even in my own family, he flat out called me a liar.

Rorschach gets vaporized at the end of the film when he discovers the truth about Ozymandias’ plot.  He threatens to expose the plot, and Dr. Manhattan kills him to cover up the truth.  Rorschach willingly meets his doom, because he knows that he cannot allow himself to remain silent.  He would rather die than compromise his beliefs.

Many American ideologues aren’t faced with physical death when their beliefs are challenged, but they do opt for an intellectual death.  They would rather kill any sense of inquiry, doubt, or self-examination than compromise or admit that they might, by some chance, be mistaken.


Silverfiddle said...

We like the warm, comfy bubble. Many people do not realize that breaking it yourself by investigating on your own is much less painful that having the inevitable reality do it for you when you least expect it.

Jack Camwell said...

Very true. I think of Javert in those type of scenarios when reality bursts your bubble for you.

Harrison said...

I saw the film but, to be honest, I really didn't get into it that much. Perhaps I missed something but I think you need to know the backstory of all these people to really "get it."

Jack Camwell said...

Well, it's an extremely dense film, and I think you're right that background knowledge on the characters is a good thing to have.

The Watchmen is definitely something that you have to watch more than once in order to unpack and understand it all.

Wade said...

It's very sad, in my opinion, how so many people are indeed dense in their beliefs.

If people learned to be more open-minded, especially towards opposing subjects, and learned to compromise - instead of merely "reenacting" nature's flaws - there would be a LOT less confusion in the world.

In a way, Rorschach is kinda who you don't need to be because you'd be completely closed off to compromise and reason, except for justification of your own reasoning. Therefore meaning ecological coexistence with someone like Rorschach would be impossible, save for opposing reasons.

In an ecological sense, Life is a much less valued commodity than Intelligence, given the fact it is in less abundance than what's naturally present on our Earth. And in that respect, intelligence can be extended for longer than the average lifespan by passing that information on through books and recorded media. In a plausible future, life will possibly lose value significantly against intellect, being that synthetic and augmented life-forms will have value based on the amount of information they can create - and that life could possibly be extended indefinitely, lessening its value substantially.

Yes, my ideas are that far ahead.

Jack Camwell said...

Thank you for visiting my little patch of internet space.

I honestly can't add anything to your comment, because I think you're right. Your response is very well reasoned, and I like where you went with it.

Greater open-mindedness in myself and other people is something I'm trying to achieve, in an ironic way.

P.S. - Your comments didn't publish immediately because the spam filter flagged it for some reason. Please don't think I was trying to censor you or anything (comment moderation is off here, because I don't even want the temptation of censoring anyone).