This week, Daniel and Jack are honoured to be joined by Prof. Megan Squire, Antifascist data-miner. Geeking-out ensues. You're gonna love it.
Megan's Twitter: @MeganSquire0
Spoilers: probably not.
Content Warning / Contains Clips
Notes and Links:
SPLC article 'Two Prominent Neo-Nazis Recant, but Their Actions Sow Doubts' https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/05/14/two-prominent-neo-nazis-recant-their-actions-sow-doubts
Everything You Love Will Burn. https://www.amazon.com/Everything-You-Love-Will-Burn/dp/1568589948
Vice White Student Union documentary (from 2013). https://youtu.be/GJ_MHp8iqtQ
Matt Heimbach assaults woman at Trump rally 2016. https://youtu.be/-YeYZtXHo8E
Kelly Weill article on Night of Wrong Wives. https://www.thedailybeast.com/matthew-heimbachs-traditional-workers-party-implodes-over-love-triangle-turned-trailer-brawl
Matt Heimbach joins Light Upon Light. https://youtu.be/w4DGkvsJLP8
Light Upon Light Upon Light (independent blog critical of LuL.) https://lightuponlightuponlight.home.blog
Take A Walk On the Right Side podcast. https://anchor.fm/take-a-walk-on-the-right-side
Relevant previous episodes:
The core of the problem was that from DC’s perspective, the lesson of Watchmen could only ever be one thing: things like this sold. And within the post-Crisis reality of the direct market, what DC specifically cared about was what fans said. The simple reality is that what the vocal fans who showed up and bought Watchmen in their specialist comic book stores liked most about the book wasn’t the moving explorations of sexuality in “A Brother To Dragons”; it was Rorschach being a moody badass in “The Abyss Gazes Also.” And so this is what DC imitated.
This, of course, was not unique to Watchmen—the kind of hard-edged and violent antihero represented by Rorschach was, to DC’s mind, part and parcel of a trend of dark and violent superhero comics that also included Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. This, in other words, was something they already knew how to imitate, and that Moore was always one of several writers capable of providing. Indeed, in most regards Moore was always an imitator in this regard, putting his own spin on a foundation that had been laid down ...
CW: rape, sexual assault, violence against women, transphobia, and homophobia. This chapter contains multiple NSFW images.
There is, however, another important sense in which Rorschach represents a myopia within Watchmen and, more broadly, Moore’s larger artistic vision. As mentioned, a crucial part of Rorschach’s psychology is his tortured relationship with sexuality. Sex is a major theme of both Watchmen and Moore’s career, and one that he has much of value to say about, but there is something unseemly about the directness with which Rorschach’s disgust with sex is pathologized, not least because it’s a character trait inherited from his underlying relationship with the apparently asexual Steve Ditko. More broadly, there is something oversimplified and unsatisfying in Moore’s approach to sexuality—a flaw intimately connected to his persistent inadequacy on the subject of sexual assault. This would be a relatively minor issue were it not for the awkward fact that the relationship between superheroes and sexuality is one of the comic’s major themes.
The theme of sex within Watchmen ignites in the seventh issue, “A Brother to Dragons,” which forms, along with “The Abyss Gazes Also,” a symmetrical axis at the center of the series. Watchmen can be divided into ...
The line, of course, belongs to Rorschach, the glamorous poison at the heart of Watchmen’s appeal. Moore is self-effacing about the character these days, joking that his popularity is down to the fact that Moore “had forgotten that actually to a lot of comic fans that smelling, not having a girlfriend - these are actually kind of heroic.” But unlike a lot of Moore’s self-deprecation, there’s an edge to this quip. He’s emphasizing his failure to anticipate the reaction to Rorschach, but only as a means to insult Rorschach’s fans even more spectacularly. There are obviously a lot of things about Watchmen that have gone sour for Moore, but at times it seems that there is nothing he resents quite as deeply as the reception of Rorschach.
|Figure 977: The Zodiac Killer, a Californian serial killer named for his literally cryptic letters, has nothing to do with either Watchmen or From Hell.|
In some ways it’s no wonder. It’s not just the throngs of fans eager to tell Moore how much they admired Rorschach, a phenomenon that is surely associated with the sudden spike in Moore’s popularity that turned comics conventions into deeply unpleasant experiences where he felt crushed ...
In this edition of IDSG, recorded less than 48 hours ago at the time of publication but already looking like an artefact of a dimly-recalled epoch, we talk about the savage 'ropeless lynching' of George Floyd by police, the subsequent explosion of protest and repression that has rocked the US, and a little bit about Trump's escalatingly bloodthirsty fascistic rantings. Daniel addresses the question of whether the violence has been stoked by fascist agents provocateurs. Basically the answer is: yes, but they're in blue.
'The Boogaloo Movement is Not What You Think' by Robert Evans and Jason Wilson: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/05/27/the-boogaloo-movement-is-not-what-you-think/
Other links to follow.
Moore’s disorientation and confusion in the wake of Watchmen is wholly understandable. Even reading Watchmen is, at times, enough to generate a sense of dazed exhaustion. And this is very much the point - an effect consciously generated by Moore’s use of the dense uniformity of the nine-panel grid. As Kieron Gillen puts it in Kieron Gillen Talks Watchmen, “if we’re talking about the many icons of Watchmen, [the nine-panel grid] is the invisible one. It underlies everything. We’re to watch these little boxes - hundreds of them - and make sense by combining them all into a larger piece of meaning. Watch,” he says, and snaps his fingers to cue his projectionist to advance his PowerPoint to a shot of Ozymandias watching his wall of television screens. Gillen talks about the comic as a “clockwork machine” in which “everything is predetermined. The forces that are put into motion mean this… the clock will carry on ticking, and if you read Watchmen enough you’ll know what the next tick is.” Gillen, here, is talking about the comic’s famously ambiguous ending, making a strong case that in fact there is only one possible “next step” for the book to take, and that ...
It is January, 1988. Alan Moore is thirty-three, and writing the introduction to the collected edition of Watchmen. His relationship with the publisher is in tatters, a fact he alludes to only vaguely when he notes that it is “the very last work that I expect to be doing upon Watchmen for the foreseeable future.” He looks back to 1984, when the idea originated, and the giddy enthusiasm of it all. And yet there is something he cannot quite locate in this. He notes that at the start “we wanted to do a novel and unusual super-hero comic that allowed us the opportunity to try out a few new storytelling ideas along the way. What we ended up with was substantially more than that.” But he cannot pin down the transition. Instead he describes a growing realization of the story’s complexity and scale, but without a sense that the realization had an end point. Instead, “there was the mounting suspicion (at least on my part) that we might have bitten off more than we could chew, that we might not be able to resolve all these momentous strands of narrative and meaning that seemed to be springing up ...