Essay on Alan Moore's The Watchmen
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Allen Moore’s sordid depiction of twentieth century life presents a complex world, where the distinction between a virtuous hero and a villainous wrongdoer is often blurred. In stark contrast to the traditionally popularized portrayal of superheroes, whose unquestionably altruistic motives ultimately produce unrealistically idealized results; the realistically flawed characters of Watchmen exist in a multi faceted world characterized by moral ambiguity. America’s imperialistic ambitions have long been justified as an expression of American idealism. Much like the portrayal of superheroes in popular culture, America’s intervention in foreign affairs was portrayed as the result of a clearly defined problem, where American intervention was…show more content…
Jaded from seeing humanities uprisings first hand, he knows that they are nothing more than symptoms of an underlying disease. Because of his experience, he is able to see more deeply into the truth of American ideology, but he is unable to do much about it. As he says, “Once you figure out what a joke everything is, being the Comedian's the only thing that makes sense” (Moore and Gibson, Part 2, Pg. 13).
Embittered by the emptiness of the American Dream and the savagery of human nature the Comedian becomes a brutal cynic. Seeing the rot and wickedness of the world clearly, he fashions his persona into a parody of it. When told of the difficulty of discerning whether he is joking or being serious, he replies with rancor, “I am the joke. The Comedian is a pointed critique of this dream. His vision of America is tainted by decades immersed in the festering guts of forgotten wars, he sees that beast that his nation has become, and rather than fight it he transforms into a monster himself. This is clearly demonstrated while Night Owl and The Comedian are fighting off a crowd rioting against costumed heroes. Night Owl asks, "What happened to America? What happened to the American dream?" As the Comedian fires smoke bombs into an unarmed crowd, he coldly replies, "It came true. You're looking at it" (Moore and Gibson, Part 2, Pg. 18).
"The superman exists and he is American" (Moore and
Dilip Bharti, 28, hasn’t missed a day at work in the past two years.
“Even if I have fever, I don’t take off from work. I don’t get holidays. I come for work at night and get off early in the morning; I know the houses by their numbers, not their residents,” says Bharti, who works as a security guard at a housing colony in Ghaziabad. His work timings: 8pm-6am.
Taking an off would mean less salary at the end of the month. “How can one survive in a city like Delhi on a salary of Rs.7,000. Had I not been poor, I would not have worked here,” says Bharti, who has studied till class VIII and has a one-year-old daughter. Originally from Bihar’s Samastipur zila, he came to Delhi about 12 years ago in search of work. Before starting this job, he was a daily wager.
Almost a kilometre away, Vasudev, 50, has a similar story to narrate—he works as a security guard in a supermarket store. “Four years of drought (in Bundelkhand) left me with no money, so I came here. I now somehow manage with Rs.13,000 each month,” says the father of three, who works 12 hours a day—his shift starts at 8pm. But he does enjoy the power and authority that come with the job.
“Once a bus driver ran towards me while a group of robbers chased him. I showed them my gun, and they took a U-turn instantly,” he says with a proud, gleeful smile.
The “power” aspect aside, the work of a security guard can be tiring and lonely. With a stick and a chair to keep company, these people spend 8-12 hours a day on the job, and take home a meagre salary.
We met six guards in and around Delhi, and in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, to get a glimpse into their lives. All of them had this to say—a “powerful” thankless job, with little money and lot of work.
So, may be the next time you are out on your morning walk and happen to notice the security guard, a simple “hello” won’t hamper your schedule. As Bharti says, “Even a mere acknowledgement is sometimes enough.”