Who watches the Watchmen? Everyone!
Admittedly, I came to the series a bit delayed. Some of my trepidation was caused by potentially retreading territory that I feel Alan Moore handled excellently already. I’m a fan of the Zack Snyder movie, but I was in no rush to see it rehashed. Imagine my surprise when it was something completely different.
The morning after it aired, the internet was already abuzz with new Watchmen developments. That was my second and most stifling source of reluctance. I read the words “Tulsa Massacre” and had no desire to watch those events unfold. Rosewood, Roots, 12 Years a Slave, Birth of a Nation, and countless other films have visited the cruel and torturous past of my forbearers. I had no desire to see that. Much like the trepidation many felt when confronted with the truth in When They See Us, the reality of those events is traumatic, it’s felt on a soul-wrenching level. As the first notes of the piano score started and the black and white film played on the screen, the palpable fear of Will Reeves’ mother unscored the masterpiece unfolding in front of me. The Tulsa Massacre is rendered with frightening realism. It was hard to hold back the tears as I watched a recreation of the destruction of Black Wall Street. Damon Lindelof did an excellent job of creating the emotional center of Watchmen’s narrative.
Make no mistake, while Watchmen starts in tragedy, it is an all-out assault on a multitude of social issues, namely Systematic Racism, and White Supremacy. Nightsister shines as the heart and soul of the Watchmen series. Much like Laurie Juspeczyk functioned in the original graphic novel, all plot threads go through Regina King’s Angela Abar/Nightsister at one point or another. She brings heart, wit, charm, and depth to the role. Being the masked police officer, Nightsister, spinning out of the events of the White Night and “Redfordations,” the symbolism is apparent. In a blistering attack on the insidious nature of white supremacy’s infiltration of current law enforcement, Nightsister’s mentor and fellow survivor of the White Night, Chief Judd Crawford, played by Don Johnson, is a member of Cyclops and its successor, the Seventh Kavalry unbeknownst to anyone. Chief Crawford’s assertion that he’s, “trying to help you, people,” before he dies at Will Reeves’ behest in an elegant strike at the subversive nature of history’s rebranding of the bloody colonialism that birthed this country.
There’s so much to unpack, that I will be covering each character in depth throughout the year, dissecting their motivations, racial or otherwise. Again, Watchmen is a masterwork, turning the microscope of the human condition directly back at us. America has an ugly tradition of racism and Watchmen explore it in interesting ways. From the Seventh Kavalry wanting to obtain the powers of Dr. Manhattan and its allegorical similarities to the phrase, “everyone wants to be black, but no one wants to be black,” to the implications of the Seventh Kalvalry themselves being “culture vultures,” by co-opting the Rorschach mask as the new symbol of their rebellion, Watchmen is a non-stop commentary, not for the faint at heart.
An interesting observation is the character of Looking Glass. By all appearances, to include speech pattern and stature, Looking Glass is a perfect candidate for the Seventh Kavalry. What we don’t know as the plot unfolds, is that Looking Glass is the new Rorschach. Down to the way he’s more comfortable in his Looking Glass mask than he is with no mask at all, Looking Glass puts on his “face,” the same way Rorschach did. His analytical observations of suspects and then the events themselves are fundamentally the same. He’s even locked inside the Seventh Kalvary stronghold leading up the climax of the series, just as the original Rorschach was. Looking Glass is disturbed and opposed to the Seventh Kalvary and their beliefs, as much as Rorschach was to crime. While not as extreme in his methods, Looking Glass is every bit Rorschach. He even succeeds where his spiritual predecessor fails; he captures Ozymandias, played by Jeremy Irons (more on Ozymandias in part two, I promise). But let’s get to it. Let’s talk about the revelation. THAT revelation.
I will say, I’m honestly disappointed by how the relationship between Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis was portrayed. While I understand that they had to pack so much inside that single episode, but I wanted a further exploration of their relationship. I was interested in how it was sparked, what led to it, how it was even broached. The dichotomy of Captain Metropolis wanting a black body against him and inside him, but not wanting the responsibility that came with loving a black soul is an issue black people deal with daily. Captain Metropolis wanted to feast on Hooded Justice’s body and share a bed, but not share his struggle nor his life. That
speaks to Captain Metropolis knowing the issues plaguing Hooded Justice’s existence, but his careless indifference spoke even louder. It reminded me of the current thought of “not alienating your allies,” or “finding common ground,” among the treacherous waters of systematic racism, bigotry and white supremacy. Captain Metropolis was completely fine turning a blind eye to the bloody war that Hooded Justice raged, but still wanted that untamed rage inside him. It’s the fetishizing of black pain, black culture, and black power. I would have loved a deeper exploration of that dynamic. I understand why it couldn’t happen, but I wanted to explore that relationship more. Captain Metropolis is an observation of America’s obsession and disregard for black pain and suffering. It needs to be explored, not just in film, but in reality, as well. As I take a deep breath and look over my notes for Watchmen, I realize that like the troubles of racial America, my thoughts can’t be compartmentalized into a simple one-off article. The potency of the topics at hand course through my veins as I type each word. Like the exploration of Captain Metropolis, the exploration of Watchmen deserves time to gestate. So, I welcome you all to Watchmen, the Life and Times of the black struggle in film and life, a blog series by Brian J. Lambert.
Brian Joseph Lambert is the lead contributing writer and editor at Wingless Entertainment LTD. He specializes in bringing diversity to action/adventure, fantasy and sci-fi worlds. In 2017, while earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University, he published his first novel, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. In 2019 he earned a Master’s degree in Entertainment Business and released JUSTICE- ISSUE #0 for Wingless Entertainment LTD and Konkret Comics. Brian's current projects include WAR FOR THE SWORD- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 2, a CG animated feature film entitled, RUBICON and JUSTICE- THE FALL, an ongoing graphic novel with KONKRET COMICS. Brian recently was selected as a Reader's Favorite Book Award Finalist in 2019 for, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. Brian has edited numerous independent works including, Is’Nana the Were-Spider by Greg Anderson Elysée, Akolyte by Derek Allen, Nia Caler by Dorphise Jean and the upcoming Beyond 13th by Michael Ralph. When not writing or editing, Brian works on creating a functioning lightsaber so that he can pass the Jedi trials.