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A&E Blog

Who Watches the Watchmen?

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2009-03-16 -

Not nearly enough people in theater audiences, apparently. Last week's $55 million opening for Watchmen was solid, but not earth-shaking. The 67% drop in its second weekend suggests that everyone who wanted to see it came early, but not necessarily often.

Look, I generally have no interest in the box-office game. Too many people use it as an equivalent for quality ("Paul Blart must be awesome, look how much money it made!"), or use the tanking of a film they didn't like as a justification. In a crowded marketplace, with a fragmented audience and certain demographics over-represented among ticket-buyers, sometimes box-office results only accidentally mirror artistic merit.

But this performance is gonna cost people jobs, no matter how absurd it was to use 300 as the measuring stick (hint: 300 had oiled-up hardbodies. Tell me what Watchmen has for women or gay men). Daring and expensive work just isn't going to fly ITCEC (the acronym I will now use for the pervasive qualifier "in the current economic climate"). No matter what I think of Watchmen in particular, that may end up being a loss for all of us.

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Posted // March 17,2009 at 20:35

Even though 300 had oiled-up hardbodies, I was surprised at how little they held this gay man's attention after the first 20 minutes or so. In fact, I wasn't able to make it through the whole flick--I gave up about the time the Mr. Bulgy and his friends got to Thermopylae.

That did not, however, stop my friends and I from going to see Watchmen over the weekend. And it only went to prove what I knew from previous experience--that is, we ignore Scott Renshaw's advice at our peril.

Now, you'd think that an epic-length picture about superheroes living during an alternate 20th-century history could hardly help but carry some transcendent, etiological message about truth and humanity. Or, failing that, at least provide some beguiling subtext or a literary device here and there to give the viewer something to think about during his/her three hours of forced sensory input.

But, no. Apparently, with Zack Snyder, all there is to a movie is what you see onscreen. It was the same with 300--judging from its reviews, if there were any truths to be drawn from it, they were only of the most obvious sort, a reflection of American fears during the Bush administration.

Still, there was one thing Watchmen had for women and gay men to rival the brutally chiseled male physiques of 300: a big, swinging luminescent blue penis. Can't say I've ever seen one of those before.