Something is better than nothing: more Watchmen (Page a Day day 7)

The following is part of my Page a Day project and some rough writing from my forthcoming essay on Watchmen, music, and nostalgia.

Another lite day of writing–although I got tons of work done today. I was going to skip this altogether, but I am glad I did something, however litter. This follows directly from what I wrote yesterday.

The contrast between these images of death and the self-assured, good-natured interviewee of the interchapter that immediately follows is jarring. In the interview Veidt discusses his past as a costumed hero, his conflicts with his peers (especially that with the Comedian, a man Veidt refers to earlier in the novel as “practically a Nazi”), and his interest in electronic music. He comes across as a humanitarian and, perhaps above all else, as a sort of “sensible liberal”—a believer in social justice but a hard nosed businessman nonetheless. In short, he appears to be the sort of person who had been, in the historical United States, a hippie in the 1960s before finishing college and then becoming a captain of industry. (He had even been a world traveler upon coming of age and, subsequently, a student of Eastern religions and ancient mythology.) However, we know that in the 1960s Veidt was a costumed hero, following in the footsteps of others, especially Dr. Manhattan. Again, Dr. Manhattan is perhaps the reason that there is no counterculture and therefore no hippies. What’s strange, or perhaps not so strange suggests Watchmen, is that despite not being a hippie in the 1960s, despite having no Bob Dylan to draw inspiration from and then reject, Veidt becomes a businessman and himself begins to draw upon and deploy imagery very close to Nazi propaganda. To be clear: despite the presence of superheroes, and despite the absence of the counterculture, America winds up, in the 1980s, very much as it would in reality.

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2 Responses to “Something is better than nothing: more Watchmen (Page a Day day 7)”

  1. A couple of thoughts:

    Aren’t the topknots the equivalent of a punk counterculture? It seems like there’s an angry alternative movement, just not a peace-and-love side to the counterculture of this alternate America.

    The film adaptation’s opening sequence (hardly canonical, I know) presents the iconic image of the protester putting a flower in the gun barrel, except the flower gets blasted away, signaling the death of hippie counterculture.

    • I suppose they are punks, but they are punks from the fascist end of the punk spectrum, the one that gives us “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “And God bless President Bush”, “Oy Oy Oy”, among other things. Also, they are punks gone mainstream, perhaps because they came to be not as a reaction to the hippie culture of the 60s (punks did not have beards to distinguish themselves from hippies), but as a manifestation of a more overtly aggressive United States. Pale Horse is, after all, playing in Madison Square Garden–this ain’t no Mudd club, no CBGB (they ain’t got time for that now). American under Reagan was, obviously, very conservative, but Reagan appeared to be a more friendly figure than Nixon–certainly a more charismatic one. The alternative history in the novel might reflect that.

      Of course, all of this is speculation as there is no explicit description of any of this, only implication and my wild ass guesses.

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