I first read Watchmen when I was 11 or 12, far too young to understand it, but old enough, and geeky enough, to know it was a sacred text. I faked my way through Hebrew school and basically memorized the sounds of my Torah portion when it came time to be Bar Mitzvah’d, rather than actually learn its meaning. I did and still do devote effort to understanding the textual and metatextual placement of Tales Of The Black Freighter. If Alan Moore had decided that his tax burden was such that he needed to invent a cult, I and probably everyone who’ll be with me at Gallery Place’s 10:30 screening tonight would have pitied those who didn’t join.
Fans feel both invested in and implicated by Watchmen’s successes and failures. Our culture is on trial. We’re nervously watching each review, our hopes and fears ebbing and flowing as they pour in, like they were the stock ticker on the bottom of the screen during an Obama speech. I have enough in my life to stir the bile in my stomach, so I haven’t read any reviews. (Though thanks to Twitter I know that it’s at 70 percent from Rotten Tomatoes and got four stars from Roger Ebert.) Part of me doesn’t care if the movie is any good. What matters is that it exists. Twenty years of attempting to film one of the most challenging and innovative stories of the late 20th century has been filmed. If it’s as good as Tristam Shandy — the Steve Coogan version — that’s a success.
Seventeen years I’ve been waiting for this. No matter what happens, tonight is mine. Hurm.