Watching People Watch the Watchmen

Posted: August 24, 2015 in DC, Watchmen

This was originally written in the Spring of 2009 and it was rediscovered after discussing it with Brian Baer during a CommentaryCast recording recently. I figured it would be worth posting on here, due to the subject matter.

Amen, Doc.

Amen, Doc.

I don’t think there’s any secret in how I feel about the general theatre-going public. I hate them. I don’t just hate them, I sincerely, unequivocally hate them. I go to the movies to (gasp) watch a movie. I don’t go to have conversations, I don’t go to talk on my cell phone and I don’t go to text. It has been a disturbing trend over the last few years that the public’s actions once the lights go off seems to be getting worse and worse. I could chalk this up to a prevalence of technology in our daily life, but that would be irresponsible. It’s not the phone’s fault that you can’t stop texting. The fault lies solely with the people who don’t think that the blue glow of their phone is disturbing anyone. Really, this is just a new spin on an old problem. 10 years ago these same assholes were loudly unwrapping candy, kicking seats or asking questions like “Did you see that?!” This is just a natural progression of their irritating behavior. I have always hated movie audiences and I’m sure I will continue to until the day that I die. However, I’ve noticed something recently that transcends the rudeness of theatre etiquette. I have come to the conclusion that these are not just annoying theatre-goers; they are terrible people. That may be a gross over-simplification, but allow me to explain.

Gah! DISGUSTING!!

Gah! DISGUSTING!!

A film was recently released called Watchmen. As a money-making film it was almost certainly destined for failure. It was based on a beloved literary work and was too dark, realistic and artistic to find an audience. I think a majority of the fans of the book liked it, but the general public seems rather unconcerned. I have seen this film no less than 4 times. I am willing to choke past my distaste for audiences just to see this film more than once in the theatre, that’s how much I enjoy it. Each viewing brings new details to light, both in the film and in the cinema. This is a violent movie. It is rated R and it earns that rating. Any idiot who knows anything about the source material will tell you that it is chock full of murder, rape, genocide and morally ambiguous characters. There’s no good or bad and there’s no perfect happy ending. Needless to say, this is not a children’s movie. Yet every showing I’ve gone to has been full of kids and unconcerned parents. At my last two viewings I’ve taken to focusing on audience responses to certain story points. So I picked a family near me (An obese mother and father with two boys between the ages of 6 and 9) and watched them watch the movie. They were unfazed during the opening fight scene. While it was brutal, it wasn’t incredibly gory so that could be forgiven. However, they didn’t bat an eye during the rape scene or the murder of a pregnant woman. Neither the parents nor the kids seemed to care what they were seeing. While I suppose that is a bit disheartening, I spent a chunk of my youth consuming violent media, so even that I couldn’t completely judge (though I did have appropriate responses to clearly despicable acts within film). Then something happened that made me completely lose hope. The character of Dr. Manhattan was introduced. For those who don’t know, Manhattan is a glowing blue god. He is omnipresent and detached from humanity. Also, he wears no clothes. Every time his blue penis was shown, the fat-asses in front of me forced their kids to cover their eyes. I swear to glowing blue god, these boys had to shield their eyes for fear of seeing a penis. I had to wonder if they’re forced to do the same thing while in the shower or bath. So these people had no problem with visually grotesque scenes of broken bones or exploding bodies but an occasional blue penis (probably about 15 seconds, all told) was a bridge too far.

No problems here...

No problems here…

If this had been the exception, I would move on from this point and chuckle at their ridiculousness. Yet every single showing I’ve been to, someone laughs or whines or has some other vocal response to seeing a naked man. Keep in mind, these images were not of a sexual or humorous nature. They could best be described as “artistic”. Would these same people snicker and giggle while viewing Michelangelo’s David? Who knows? In an earlier showing, I was disturbed by a group of young people near me feigning disgust at a scene of two women sharing a kiss. Again, the scene is not sexual or humorous (in fact it was an homage to Victor Jorgensen’s infamous V-J Day photo), yet they felt the need to verbally convey their distaste for this woman’s lifestyle. Have we really made such little progress as a society? Are we still the barbarians that I thought we had evolved past? Like Dr. Manhattan, I am confused by this society and those who inhabit it. I am tired of these people and being caught in their lives. However, unlike him I cannot simply leave the planet. I am forced to put up with that which I hate in order to be in the presence of the cinema which I love so much.

“Come on and join me, Colby. The weather’s awesome!”

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