So, Luke rang me yesterday. I was like, word up Luke! Seen any good steam trains lately? And he as like, never mind that Dr The Don, I have an assignment for you. Fancy going to see Watchmen tonight at the Imax and reviewing it for The Quietus? And I was like, dude! No way! OMFGdotcom forwardslash FUCK YEAH! And he was like, stop talking like a twelve year old. And I was like, NEVER!
Then I crashed my bicycle into a white van but I didn’t care because I was SO EXCITED!
Then I went home and my new PC got delivered. Then I went to the Natural History Museum to see the Darwin Exhibition courtesy of my good friend BJ who works there. The I went to see The Watchmen with my hot girlfriend, who was suffering some terrible agonies. Then we came home, and I wrote this.
Watchmen Reviewed: Has Zack Snyder Killed The Comic Book Adaptation?
Adam Narkiewicz, February 27th, 2009 04:10
It’s one of the most talked about graphic novel adaptations in cinema history. But will creator Alan Moore’s misgivings about filming Watchmen be realised?
You probably know that Watchmen is a movie based on this totally awesome comic book that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons did in the 80s that pretty much single-handedly dragged the superhero genre (and the public’s perception of it) kicking and screaming into the Modern World. This led to comics being sold in book shops and all sorts of neat stuff like that (it was also responsible for acres of really shitty comic books about ridiculously emo superheroes with creepy sexual hangups, but so what? Hunter S Thompson was responsible for more shit “journalism” than you could shake a sack of coke at – cough – but I was still hyped about that Fear And Loathing movie.)
The work’s author, world-famous magician and Northampton resident Dr Alan “RZA Rings” Moore has notoriously refused to have his name on the credits, and has been telling anyone that asked for as long they’ve been asking that the comic is unfilmable, and that any attempt would fail harder than the Titanic did at Being A Reliable Method Of Water Transportation.
But no-one listens to comic book writers, especially when comic book movies have been making almost as much money as drugs and guns and bestial ninja pr0n lately. “Fuck Alan Moore,” my overtly-manly geek-off Welsh buddy Gwilym spat at me, when discussing the subject recently. “Unfilmable my arse. That hairy fuck hasn’t got a clue. They’ve got the technology to do anything in films now.” Gwilym loved 300, incidentally – Watchmen director Zack Snyder’s last comic book adaption, an intensely racist and magnificently dumb affair, that manged to be both homophobic AND homoerotic all at once.
“I would rather not know [about the movie],” said Moore, last year. “[Zack Snyder] may very well be [a very nice guy], but the thing is that he’s also the person who made 300. I’ve not seen any recent comic book films, but I didn’t particularly like the book 300. I had a lot of problems with it, and everything I heard or saw about the film tended to increase [those problems] rather than reduce them.”
Yeah, but so what? Watchmen is based on Watchmen, and Watchmen is the best comic book ever! Or one of the best comics ever, anyway. Zack Snyder says he loved Watchmen more than his mother and his God combined, and has made an “unprecedentedly faithful adaption”… How could it go wrong?
You have no fucking idea.
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is the most incredible feat of “faithful adaption” fail this side of The Bible (ask Jesus if you don’t know what I mean). It’s like somebody traced a picture of a lovely shiny tasty apple, then scrawled maggots all over it, then wiped their arse with it, then decided to feed it to a passing toddler and draw a picture of a banana dipped in pestilence instead.
You kind of realise it’s going to be shit from the first moment. The Bob Dylan song used to illustrate the effect superheroes had in this alternate reality between the 50s and the 80s is about as subtle as a Spiderman outfit at a funeral, and then they go and set their stall out for all to see by adding a load of unnecessary post-Matrix superviolence to The Comedian’s death scene – those cartoonish, slow-mo blood-spatter sequences that gave all those 12 year old boys who loved 300 all those cute little erections. That shit runs rampant through this movie like acid diarrhea. A part of you does go, “ooh, that looks just like the comic!” when he gets chucked out of the window. It really does, and that happens a lot during the film – most of the key moments are indeed, perfectly executed, filmed versions of panels from the comic book. But that’s it. That’s the only thing that is any good about the movie. And that’s where any connection between the comic and the film ends.
A comic book is – shock fucking horror – more than a storyboard. There’s stuff that goes on in a comic book, in the panels, in the drawings, in the speech bubbles, and in the gutters (the space between the panels, ign’ant non-comic reading scum). To successfully adapt Watchmen, a filmmaker would have to be able to recognise this. He would have to be able to read, and understand a comic book. Something eight-year-olds the world over have learned to do just fine, but something that, on this evidence, Zack Snyder has not.
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is a travesty. Dialogue and plot points are butchered, moments of true emotion are rendered lifeless, dull, and at some points quite mirthful, by a combination of bad acting, bad editing, bad direction and outrageously populist, woefully inappropriate music choices (Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ is dropped on a sex scene, seemingly for comedic effect) Stunningly bad lines are added willy nilly (there’s even a tacked on “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” at the end, which made me laugh out lout), and that’s not even getting to the wholesale abuse of the characters and the story. The most important stuff is gone, and what’s left is exaggerated beyond reasonable comprehension (right down to giving Dr Manhattan Donkey Dick) and dragged out for what feels like seventeen years, until all memory of what was great, moving, beautiful and true about the comic is gone, and all you’re left with is a gang of whiney arsehole lead characters you don’t give a fuck about (Jackie Earle Haley put in an admirable effort as Rorscharch, to his credit), a convoluted, nonsensical mess of a story, and an outrageously shitty 911-evoking new ending (!!!!!!!!!!!) that ruins the whole point of the book. Were it a horse, it would be dragged out back and shot. And made into that knock-off Pritt Stick that doesn’t work. And sniffed by NME readers at Pete Doherty lookalike parties.
Incredibly, Snyder has taken one of the greatest comic books ever published, and made the the single worst comic book movie ever to see daylight. Batman And Robin was Apocalypse Now compared to this. Watchmen: The Movie! is a goonish, damp, moronic, downright rude travesty. Alan Moore’s worst fears could not prepare us for what Snyder has done to his most beloved work. Watchmen may have single handedly killed the comic-book movie genre. And you know what? Good. Maybe Snyder and his ilk can try coming up with their own ideas, and curling off huge diseased shit-heaps all over them, and maybe comic book scribes can stop trying to write movies, and get back to doing what they do best, and what only comics can.
I haven’t been listening to too many girls lately. Girls don’t make too much music, for various reasons – my old man says its cos they don’t have the “balls” required, and there was actually a scientific study conducted recently that linked testosterone to creativity (I bet it was done by menfolk, though, right?)… others would point out that our creative arenas are just totally ruled by dudes (what was it, 3% of Hollywood movies last year were directed by women?!), and you know how they love to keep the status quo rocking balls out and hairy like, ur, Status Quo. There are myriad other factors also – I went to see Rolo Tomassi live last year, and the Sunday afternoon neanderthal doood audience spent most of the gig bawling “get your tits out bitch,” at their female singer, egged on by their merrily brainwashed female companions. That sort of shit is going to put you the fuck off, right? Plus you’re not allowed top be publicly creative if you’re a girl and you don’t look hot enough to grace to cover of Front (or Bizarre, if you’re a bit cooky.)
Speaking of which, I haven’t been really really really into a female music type since Tori Amos. Or maybe PJ Harvey. Or Feist. Or Bjork. Or The Indelicates. Anyway. Tori was my biggest musical infatuation though, that Under The Pink LP got a solid year of play from me when I was 14 and locked in my bedroom drawing comic books, and has been a frequent returner ever since. Tori got a lot of shit, what with daring to be a girl, and talking about how much getting her period freaked her the fuck out, and stuff.
And now, another brilliant, daring, unapologetically frank female has appeared on the landscape, terrifying the males and their slaves by having the audacity to talk about issues that affect people with tits, and is naturally getting a whole load of stick for it.
Amanda Palmer’s close-to-genius Oasis – a song about a girl who gets raped and has to have an abortion, but is cheered by the fact that her favourite boorish Britpop outfit have sent her a signed photo in the mail - has been BANNED IN THE UK! Check it out, before we go on.
Awesome, non? Weirdly, that song reminded me of Ben Folds 5, who had this really sad song about abortion called Brick, that I used to weep teenagedly to when me and my girl of the time were going through that whole ugly mess. Anyway, turns out Ben Folds produced Amanda Palmer’s new album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, which I am going to go ahead and recommend highly.
Anyway. That song’s awesome right? And the video makes it even better, right? Laughing in the face of terrible adversity and tragedy is what make us human, right? What keeps us from going totally fucking rarse-clart batshit and shooting up schoolyards, right?
And you’d expect The Daily Mail to take offense, but NME? Kerrang? Radio 1? Really?
Rah. I shall go ahead and post Amanda’s blog on the subject, in its entirety, for your perusal.
first the belly thing, now this.
please take a deep breath before you read on, it’s long and rambly.
my label in the UK has been gearing up to promote “oasis” as a radio and video single.
a few days before i left for london i got this email from someone at roadrunner:
Hope you are both well,
I just thought I’d let you know that we have been met by fierce opposition on the Oasis track.
Which is disheartening, as combined with the video, we all felt it was a great promotional tool and track.
All our TV outlets have refused to play the video due to it “making light of rape, religion and abortion”. This is the audio as well as visual.
Many of the stations like the track, and even the video but are bound by strict broadcasting rules. I personally find this quite ridiculous.”
wasn’t this the UK, land of black humor blacker than blackest black itself?
i emailed back and asked which outlets. the reply:
“NME tv, Scuzz, kerrang, MTV, Q, the box … to name a few. There is only a few networks: bauer, chartshow and MTV. They control all stations and they all had the same issue….”
and i sat there thinking, wow. here we go again.
why can’t ANYTHING just be effing EASY this year?
it isn’t a simple issue, obviously. but the fundamentals seem clear to me.
i sat down one day in or around 2002 and wrote a tongue-in-cheek, ironic up-tempo pop song.
a song about a girl who got drunk, was date raped, and had an abortion.
she sings about these things lightly and joyfully and says that she doesn’t care that these things have happened to her because oasis, (her favorite band) has sent her an autographed photo in the mail. and to make things even better (!!), her bitchy friend melissa, who told the whole school about the abortion, is really jealous.
if you cannot sense the irony in this song, you’re about two intelligence points above a kumquat.
i then recorded this song with ben folds (who is way more intelligent than a kumquat) for my record, WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER, in 2007.
he produced the song to sound fantastically happy, a full-on peppy beach-boys style number complete with ba ba ba back-up vocals.
we were very proud of it. it was funny, and sad, and made sense. to us.
then i made a video with michael pope that portrayed a VERY literal play-by-play of what was being related in the song. it also made sense to us.
now people in the UK are telling me that the song “makes light of rape, religion and abortion”.
can i simply state:
WHEN YOU CANNOT JOKE ABOUT THE DARKNESS OF LIFE, THAT’S WHEN THE DARKNESS TAKES OVER.
the song is not a lecture.
the song is a SONG.
it’s a reflection, a character sketch.
as i was walking over to the bbc the other day and my label rep mentioned that they might not let me play “oasis” on the air, i suggested that i might be allowed to play it if i just slowed it way down and played it in a minor key.
think about it. if they heard the same lyrics against the backdrop of a very sad and liliting piano, maybe with some tear-jerking strings thrown in for good measure, would they take issue?
imagine these lyrics to the tune of “strange fruit”. or “yesterday”.
“when i got my abortion, i brought along my boyfriend
we got there an hour before the appointment”…
(cue swelling strings, tears well up in singer’s eyes)
“and outside the building”
(singer looks down, brushes away invisible oncoming tear, lights change, strings ease up mournfully)
“were all these annoying fundamentalist christians”
(singer’s voice breaks, a pin could drop in the audience, the strings suspend their sorrowful bowing for a breath)
“we tried to ignore them…”
(the singer lets a single solitary tear flow down her right cheek and turns her head away from the audience in an i-can’t-even-face-you-right-now moment).
and the crowd goes wild!!!!! such PAIN. such GRAVITAS!
would this make people happy?
maybe. it would be within a context they could rely on, feel safe in, write off.
“she’s sad! of course she’s sad! she had an abortion! abortion is sad! abortion is personal and emotional! look, she is expressing directly the way she should feel about this! and we don’t joke about things that are personal and emotional and sad!”
i have to.
you’re damn right this shit makes people uncomfortable.
it makes people uncomfortable to hear ANYONE talking about abortion and rape bluntly, much less talking about it LIKE THIS….
and i think it makes people uncomfortable to hear the truth about a very real and sick situation:
if you don’t know – or have never encountered – a teenager who is going through intense heavy experiences (like rape, abortion, eating disorders, abuse, fill-in-the-blank)
and is laughing these things off like THEY DON’T MATTER, then you are not ALIVE and AWAKE and living on this planet.
IT’S HAPPENING EVERYWHERE. i see it all the time. it’s called being a confused teenager. it’s real. it SUCKS.
abortion is serious. rape is serious. lots of things are serious. do they think i’m blind?
the song isn’t even so much ABOUT those topics, it’s about denial, it’s about a girl who can’t find it in herself to take her situation seriously.
that girl exists, everywhere. you probably know her. you’ve probably met her. you might be her.
you might not even like this song.
it doesn’t matter.
our COLLECTIVE freedom to approach situations with humor, with irony, with anger, with sadness, with darkness, with an edge, from a different perspective, from within the situation…it’s ESSENTIAL.
we have to agree about this or we ALL get in trouble.
the minute you discount humor, you give evil things POWER. you fuel them. you let them rule you.
so, amanda (you ask)…should we joke about cancer? dead babies? the holocaust?
have you seen “life is beautiful?”
that movie is not a joke about the holocaust. it does not make light of the holocaust…the same way that my song does not “make light” of abortion.
it shows how humor exists in darkness. how it can, how it MUST.
humor and darkness are opposite sides of the same coin.
there is a reason that our funniest comedians have usually had bizarre and fucked-up childhoods.
we can’t afford to abandon the disposition of humor, if we do….we’re lost.
humor SAVES us. sometimes literally.
humor is one of the strongest weapon that human beings have against suffering, death and fear.
i could try to win points by talking about how i’ve been date raped (i have been, when i was 20) or how I have every right to joke about this if i want to because i’ve had an abortion myself (i have, when i was 17), but i actually DON’T believe those experiences should lend me any credibility, any more so than i believe the director of “life is beautiful” had to have been an auschwitz victim in order to direct that film.
i should be allowed to write about, sing about, joke about anything that moves me.
so should you. so should everyone.
an artist’s (and a human being’s) freedom to do that, without fear of retribution, is the cornerstone of what keeps the world moving forward, not backwards, not standing still.
i’m sure there’s a part of me (it seems obvious) that was processing my pain, coming to terms with my experiences through the song.
that’s what i do. i’m a songwriter who writes about personal shit.
but because i chose to do it in a black-humor way, with my tongue shoved firmly in the side of my cheek….does that make it less valid?
in art, everything must be fair game, everything must be explorable, everything must be speakable, or we go BACKWARDS! we go DOWN!
everything can be offensive to somebody. of course.
i’d be HAPPY to know that the song out there is going to offend some people….not because i have any interest in making people upset, but because i think it’s better
to talk about these things, argue about them, be upset about them, push them out into the open air, stir the pot around. better that, always, than to sweep them under the rug.
in the united states in 1996, about 1.3 MILLION women had an abortion. about half those women were under 25.
and i can assure you, there were approximately 1.3 million different reactions, experiences and stories behind those abortions.
countless girls have been raped or date-raped. are we allowed to talk about it, joke about it, turn it over from every side and try figure it our own confused reaction to it?
or is that just too icky, uncomfortable … and shameful?
should we just cry about it demurely and hope that the proper reaction, the one that society deems appropriate, will make it go away?
fuck that shit.
p.s. these are the outlets refusing to play the video or air the song on radio. feel free to help me get the song on air. be nice to them.
they’re just people. write them a letter and tell them how you feel. request the song. if you want, tell them about your rape and abortion.
you know….hug it out!
if you’re from the uk, tell them so, and where. if you’re from elsewhere, just….i don’t know, hug it out internationally. thank you guys.
(and if you’re feeling extra nice, send the bbc a thank you letter for airing the song on bbc 6 yesterday: go to www.bbc.co.uk/feedback
and can i also point out the irony here that the BBC has historically banned several number one hits in the uk, including songs by the sex pistols and frankie goes to hollywood. maybe we should actually call and complain. they’re ruining my punk rock cred by spinning my shit.)
p.s.s. Hi Amanda,
Your Oasis video was one of the things that got me thinking about abortion in context w/ where the country is right now. I ran across some lame comments of the “ohhh, it’s not appropriate to joke about that” variety about Oasis by random “critics” & it drove me nuts. If you can’t joke about rape, abortion, & fundamentalist christians, what CAN you joke about?
So this & more led to me blogging about why (despite the setbacks w/ Prop 8 & its ilk) LBGTs have been more successful in making some inroads w/ Mainstream America™ than pro-choicers.
Happy day, fammo – Pete Fowler and The Super Furry Animals are Together Again, and Pete’s done this awesome drawing for the new issue of Artrocker to celebrate. And AkiraTheDon.com gots the EXCLUSIVE! Siv. Siv. Siv…
Colour below. I like the pencil version best, how about you?
Readers are advised to pick that up at the newsagents, and to visit superfurry.com, which you can now read in Cymraeg if you wish, and has a ridonculously thorough four camera video-diary of the making of the new album. You can vidi them playing darts and everything.
Pete Fowler’s website is always worth a look too – his Vice comics are on there, and they’re dope. He used to have his studio under my old office you know. He has this kid who worked for him, who spent all day colouring in pictures of monsters and rolling huge spliffs. I was jealous of that kid, I can tell you.
Saying that, I spent all day writing vicious nonsense about musicians, and rolling big spliffs, so I dunno what I was thinking.
I was like, who you calling a member? The I was like, dayme, them net piggies work fast! Then I was like, dayme, what on earth could have been in that video that was infringey? Sheeeeeeet. Then I remembered I used a shot of the lovely Web Sheriff Sheriff’s Badge (a fitting logo for these people, non?). So I’ve had to draw my own badge, and re-up the video. Despite the whole process having bitten a big chunk out of my afternoon, I do like my logo. I think it’s an improvement. How about you?
There ya go piggies! Snuffle that!
And in case you forgot what this was all about, here’s The Prodigy’s video.