18 July 2008

Ipsos Custodes

The first Watchmen trailer is officially online. Thoughts:
  • Love the rendering on Dr Manhattan. [Ed: I meant the CGI in the trailer, although I have always really loved the way Gibbons did the shading differently for him than all the other characters.]

  • Nite Owl's vehicle breaching (or just slightly after breaching) looks very wrong to me. The Incredibles had more dynamic liquid effects than that. Likewise the glass shattering during the defenestration of The Comedian looks off somehow, but I can't slow it down enough to figure out why.

  • For reasons I can't express, I just love the look of Dr Manhattan's legs in the background as The Comedian lays waste to Vietnam. It almost reminds me of the Stay Puft Man, except with the power to control the universe at an atomic level, and not made of gelatinized sugar.

  • The crystal palace thing (I forget the real name) on Mars is very well modeled.

  • I also like the general color tone and shading. I think it might get a little dreary and hard to watch throughout a full feature, but it sets the mood well and gives the world some character.
Something about Rorschach's ominous line "The World will look up and shout, 'Save us!' And I'll whisper, 'No.'" made me think of this picture posted by TJIC this morning:

He comments that "Leftists would call this 'hegemony.' I call it 'awesome.'" There's really no arguing with this:
Awesome (adj): inspiring awe.

Awe (n): 1. A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might. 2. (archaic) The power to inspire dread.
Tell me with a straight face that staring down the business end of an M1 Abrams would not fill your heart with dread. (And you pants with something even less pleasant.) You know what would scare me the most about this scene? That the crew has casually stashed a cooler on top of their vehicle. Not only will they unload serious Old Testament firepower, but they plan on breaking later for frosty beverages. It's a true badass that can level half a village in the morning and still be ready for a picnic in the afternoon.

But anyway, back to American "hegemony" and Watchmen. I thought a major theme of the book was what happens when the guys who do bad things to the bad guys go away. As much as I may not like the US military gallivanting across the globe to "build democracy" or whatnot, I am very thankful that that's an option. Were we to loose the ability to project that kind of force around the world everybody would need to start asking themselves very quickly who's going to take our place doing bad things to bad people. And I think the answer is that no one will. No one can. We are the biggest dog on the block by such a wide margin it's really as if there are no other dogs in town, just a pack of mildly rambunctious chipmunks. Even with heavy American logistical support there might be three or four countries that could lay down the law half a world away. And without our transportation and supply and communication and intelligence infrastructure that list falls to maybe the UK.

I don't like government sponsored violence, but to be perfectly honest I like the idea that there are big scary men with big scary weapons ready to reign down truly biblical amounts of destruction on people who might try to harm me and my neighbors. It's ugly, but somebody has to be ready to do it.

Finally, it would not surprise me at all if an American president, ten or twelve years from now said (privately at least) exactly what Rorschach does. When trouble is a-brewing in Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Sudan or Bangladesh or Iran and people start yelling "Do Something!" I think we'd be perfectly justified in explaining that the last time we confronted a psychotic despotism with a history of genocide things did not go so well, so we're going to be sitting this one out, thank you very much. You are more than welcome to step up to bat this inning, everyone else.

Maybe this response will be better for the US or the World, and maybe it won't. Though the simplicity and consistency of isolationism has a visceral appeal to me I still have to admit that when he chips are down, I, like everyone else, am a consequentialist, so I really don't know if this Rorschach attitude would be ultimately good or bad. Be that as it may, an argument of "you didn't like our results last time, so clean up the mess yourself" will be very hard for me to fault.


  1. BDunbar points out that in all likelihood that cooler is holding nothing more than water. I had the same thought myself, but I still can't dissuade myself from thinking that maybe, just maybe, they have some Budweisers, a bucket of fried chicken, maybe a little pasta salad and some cornbread. And some more Buds. Would that be unprofessional? Perhaps. Dangerous? Perhaps. But it would be much, much more entertaining.

  2. I should also have noted that bdunbar posted that Abrams picture in the first place, whereupon it was reposted at TJICistan, where it first came to my attention. My apologies for not sending that credit back upstream, especially since, as bdunbar points out, "jaunty" is by far the best word for the cooler, in addition to being a word I need to work into my life more often.

  3. If I had to do it all over again, I'd go for armor. Sure, they're in a great big moving target, but you can carry stuff around that grunts can't.

    Like lawn chairs. I saw a picture of some tankers in Desert Storm, sitting in the shade of their M1 in lawn chairs. If you gotta go to war, going comfortable is the way to go.

    And somehow .. I can't see the SS 10th Panzer Corps going to war with lawn chairs in the bustle rack and a cooler perched on the turret.

    It's just not something you can see a bunch of humorless Nazis doing, is it? But how American it is!

  4. I should also have noted that bdunbar posted that Abrams picture in the first place,

    In turn, I should point out that the picture comes from the excellent Military Motivator Blog at http://militarymotivator.blogspot.com/