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Talk about the Watchmen comic book mini-series and film
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:29 am 
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t3cii wrote:
I think the reason there are no black crime fighters in Watchmen is simple enough. It is very doubtful, I think, that in 1930's-1960's America, a black man or woman would willingly run around the streets of New York, in costume, with a mask on. Think about the potential risks involved. Imagine what might happen if "Black Lightning" is about to thwart some bank robbery, when the police show up. He puts his hands up and says casually "It's OK, everything is under control!". And he's standing there in a ridiculous getup and wearing a mask. And it's the 1930's. And these particular cops aren't too cool with them "colored folk". It's just a potential for disaster if you ask me.

Also, with the possible exception of Rorschach, crime fighting seems to be a hobby for those with time and money on their hands. That might also weigh on Black Lightnings mind. "Well I'd love to get out there and clean this town up, but I have to work a second job at the shipping docks. And I only got so much time with the wife and kids, so I guess that's that".


Good call. I would also add that prior to the introduction of the '60s/'70s Black Power-inspired heroes like Black Panther and Luke Cage, most black characters in superhero comics were either insulting Stepin Fetchit-inspired sidekicks (like The Spirit's Ebony White) or stereotyped African tribal folk. The black heroes that have appeared over the last 30 years have had their own issues to overcome (namely the omnipresent "I'm a bad mutha" syndrome), but the differences in depiction have shown amazing progress in spite of all that.

Bringing it back to Watchmen, I think the main reason we don't have a black character is for precisely that reason -- the treatment of black heroes in comics was still evolving in the 1980s, and as a result the subject wasn't quite ready to be dissected in satire. I agree that the racial assimilation question is dealt with pretty handily by the implied/hidden ethnicities of the other characters, as stated in the posts above.

BTW, Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier graphic novel has a fantastic subplot (predictably cut in the direct-to-DVD movie) about the problematic nature of being a black vigilante in the late '50s/early '60s. It also provides a sorely-needed non-Death of Superman origin for the character of Steel, casting him as an anti-Klan freedom fighter in the mold of Harriet Tubman or John Parker.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:34 am 
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Tada wrote:
Minorities tend to have social problem like not being able to get employed, racism, etc., not something you solve by kicking ass.


Muhammad Ali might disagree with you there, although he was less "kick-ass" and more "punch-face."

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:43 am 
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DrFünkehattan wrote:
Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier graphic novel has a fantastic subplot (predictably cut in the direct-to-DVD movie) about the problematic nature of being a black vigilante in the late '50s/early '60s. It also provides a sorely-needed non-Death of Superman origin for the character of Steel, casting him as an anti-Klan freedom fighter in the mold of Harriet Tubman or John Parker.


I enjoyed that subplot. I've thought for some time that an interesting out-of-canon Superman story would have a phenotypically black Kal-El landing in Kansas in the 1930s. The superhero narrative would have to be fundamentally revaluated if not abandoned altogether.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:48 am 
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The certain mindset that one needs to dress up and physically enforce your will on another is not unlike that of the serial killer, an occupation that is also overwhelmingly white and male. Although this trait is most obviously portrayed in Rorschach, I think that it is apparent in several other characters, as well, namely Hooded Justice and the Comedian.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:28 am 
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RLS wrote:
DrFünkehattan wrote:
Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier graphic novel has a fantastic subplot (predictably cut in the direct-to-DVD movie) about the problematic nature of being a black vigilante in the late '50s/early '60s. It also provides a sorely-needed non-Death of Superman origin for the character of Steel, casting him as an anti-Klan freedom fighter in the mold of Harriet Tubman or John Parker.


I enjoyed that subplot. I've thought for some time that an interesting out-of-canon Superman story would have a phenotypically black Kal-El landing in Kansas in the 1930s. The superhero narrative would have to be fundamentally revaluated if not abandoned altogether.


That reminds me of Asian Superman, a micro-budgeted short mockumentary I saw a few years ago at a local film festival that posited that Superman (played by a chubby, goateed Filipino guy) was actually from an obscure region of China called Krip-Tan, and crash-landed in Kansas as a result of a failed Communist Chinese space launch. It was mostly just sort of silly, but there was some pretty sly commentary about the "model minority" stereotype and the way Western culture sometimes ascribes "super" characteristics (i.e. "they're so good at math/music/martial arts!") to Asians in general. I just found a trailer on YouTube which doesn't really show much of the actual satirical content, but hopefully gets the basic idea across.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:48 pm 
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A pity about that trailer: the idea is great, and it would have been nice to see some shots from the film itself. Still, thanks for providing the link!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:05 am 
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Broken Finger wrote:
The certain mindset that one needs to dress up and physically enforce your will on another is not unlike that of the serial killer, an occupation that is also overwhelmingly white and male. Although this trait is most obviously portrayed in Rorschach, I think that it is apparent in several other characters, as well, namely Hooded Justice and the Comedian.


Good observation. Keep pursuing that line of thought and we might well end up with a serial killer hero in the mainstream media!

Oh, hang on. 'Dexter', anyone?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:37 pm 
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I mentioned this in another thread, but I never understood the dislike of the Polish people in Watchmen (mainly in the Minutemen flashback). I'm rather rusty with 20th century history...why all the Polish dislike?

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:33 pm 
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^ Here.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:04 am 
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BlackDoomShadow wrote:
There's some irony at the end when the German/Aryan man lets the Jewish man and woman live.


I think Laurie and her mom are Christian, or at least secularly non-Jewish, considering Sally's apartment is all decked out for Christmas in the last few scenes (if I remember right).

As for Veidt physically fitting the "Aryan ideal" that the Nazis used, there's some real irony added to the film version when you take into account that Matthew Goode added the personal backstory that Veidt's parents were Nazis, and it was his revulsion toward that ideology that contributed to his giving away the family fortune as much as his desire to be able to start from nothing. However, his obvious devotion to perfecting his physical strength and performance is likely a remnant of those ideals that were drummed into him as a child- he's just created a more egalitarian version of that discipline. If the Veidt Method flyer in the GN is any indication, Veidt has tranmuted the idea into the idea that anybody has the potential to be "the superman", regardless of race.


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