Or specifically, the really idiotic reviews. Like Anthony Lane's piece in The New Yorker, which has had fandom all riled up since yesterday. I think Lane has been waiting a long time for this moment, sharpening his knife in slow, delicious pleasure in order to plunge it into the heart of geekdom. Lane is proud of the fact that he didn't get it; in fact he relishes it. He "never quite worked out" whether the costumed heroes had superpowers or not, and he's puzzled as to why the film is serious when it's based on a comic book. " "Incoherent, overblown, and grimy with misogyny, Watchmen marks the final demolition of the comic strip, and it leaves you wondering: where did the comedy go?"
So what the book was one of Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels? Poo to that! It's a geek thing, worse because it's a smart geek thing, and only the most pathetic of individuals could enjoy it: "Watchmen, like V for Vendetta, harbors ambitions of political satire, and, to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose deepest fear-deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation-is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along."
I'm not sure which is more amusing -- the thought of The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine* being staffed entirely by anxious virgins or that implication Mr. Lane would like us to know he doesn't fear women of intelligence.
Before you think I'm complaining because Lane gave it a negative review, let's look at the flip side of the coin from our favorite reviewer, Ben Lyons: "The Watchmen [sic] works for the same reasons that Batman and Iron Man did last year. The movie makes you think while simultaneously entertaining you. Sounds simple, but it's always the sign of a good film. And it seems like this is going to be the one film we're gonna see of this franchise. It wasn't like Zack Snyder was trying to setup the sequel. I really appreciate that." So do we, Mr. Lyons. So do we. Personally, I'm glad that you won't be spending sleepness nights wondering how the next installment of Watchmen will wrap things up.
So I'm sorry, Mr. Snyder. I'm in your corner, but I think Alan Moore might have been right on this one -- story complexities aside, the novel was unfilmable because the end result (good, bad, or ugly) is a gleeful ignorance. No one should revel in that (especially at The New Yorker) and film criticism is poorer for this kind of dreck. And the week is early. There's undoubtedly more to come.
* These are the publications quoted on the back of my copy of the book. Many intelligent and cultured individuals have praised it over the years, but they're all afraid of brainy women.