Sunday, March 01, 2009

Get as many people as you can to read Alan Moore's "Watchmen" this week - or else.

(Looking at the pages she is reading in this picture, if this is her first time with "Watchmen," I envy her)

With the release of Watchmen less than a week away, I felt it was important to remind all fans of the book to do everything we can to make sure everyone we care about has read the original novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons before March 6. Reason being, when the long-awaited movie hits, there is no turning back.

The first time I read “Watchmen” was about five years ago. As I made my way through this dense lasagna of visuals and text, I immediately dreamed of the day that someone would make a movie based on the book. Why? Because of the characters, my favorites being Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan. No two characters could be more different from each other. Rorschach has no powers to speak of nor wealth to compensate this fact, is publicly despised, but persists in his quest due to very rigid moral standards. Manhattan, on the other hand, has the powers of a God, is a beloved national celebrity whose presence keeps America on top of the global power totem pole, and his morality veers into gray pools of ambiguity. These contrasting details actually set both of these characters directly against one another in the most gut-wrenching finale since George told Lenny about the rabbits for the last time in “Of Mice and Men.”

Many readers also like Moore’s story. It’s a great sci-fi mystery labyrinth, filled with treasures to reward those who read the book on multiple occasions. It also juggles themes like humankind’s search for meaning in this life, whether or not certain levels of evil are necessary - or even justifiable - in the creation of world peace, and yes, the book's oft-repeated question of "Who watches the watchmen?"

But when the movie hits theaters on Friday, I now realize the book is going to lose some of its purity. Even if watching Zack Snyder’s film somehow manages to be just as great as reading Moore and Gibbon’s book, the urge to compare, contrast, or even confuse the two experiences will be commonplace. Also, if the movie sucks, the chances of new readers picking up “Watchmen” for the first time will be reduced to nil.

I’ve already seen it happen to a buddy of mine who watched part of that ridiculous slow-motion Glamour Shots trailer they plopped in front of The Dark Knight. Other footage released since then has shown that the overall movie won’t be quite so ridiculous. However, for this person, that trailer has become his definitive “Watchmen” experience. Now there is no reason for him to read Moore’s work for the fist time – an experience I would liken to the first time I watched The Graduate or Annie Hall, or listened to Radiohead’s “OK Computer” – because he’s got a strong feeling now that reading the book will be a lot like this:

How wrong he is, folks, but I can’t necessarily blame him. If any of the Twilight movies actually turn out to be any good, chances are, I won’t know, because I will only assume that they were just as lame as the first one. I won’t even bother reading the books for that very reason, not that Stephenie Meyer will be hard pressed for my money.

That means it’s up to us to fire up our Owlships and save as many people as we can. We’ve only got five days left, so make up a list of everyone you know who hasn’t read “Watchmen,” grab all the loner copies you can spare, and pester as many people as you can, starting with the ones you love most dearly.

Now’s the time to get people to read “Watchmen.” Awareness is high because of the previews and trailers, but if the movie sucks, our ability to convince more people to crack the book’s hallowed pages for the first time will take a serious hit. Perhaps this is why Moore hated the idea of a “Watchmen” movie from day one.


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10:01 PM  

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