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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Are you a 'moron' if you go see 'Watchmen'?

In the seemingly endless parade of crazed right-wing culture critics always eager to lambaste liberal Hollywood and kill a mosquito with an AK-47 (yes, we're thinking Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and Rush "I'm Rooting for Obama to Fail" Limbaugh), no one quite matches the inspired lunacy of Debbie Schlussel.

I confess to never having heard of her until someone showed me a blog post where she erupted in a mad fury after seeing "Defiance," Ed Zwick's drama about tough Russian Jews in World War II. Why?  Well, because Zwick refused to condemn Hamas and he's part of lefty Hollywood, which never makes any movies celebrating Israel's 60-year fight for survival against the bloodthirsty Arabs who want to wipe Israel off the map.

WatchmenposterLet's just say that Schlussel makes the saber-toothed Coulter look like Miley Cyrus. So you can only imagine what happened when those madcap publicists promoting "Watchmen" at Warners (who forced the woebegone David Poland to whine for weeks about not being invited to an early screening) happily allowed Schlussel into a screening so she could review the film.

Taking time out from attacking Oprah Winfrey for "frequently using her show to praise and whitewash Islam," complaining about the government providing tax dollars for special "digital switch-over training" to Muslims and deriding "The Bachelor" for giving a platform to "the skanks and bimbos who voluntarily make out on TV for base American voyeurs with nothing better to do," Schlussel has now trained her sights on the millions of poor slobs who might want to see "Watchmen."

In her current post, she got right to the point: "If you take your kids to see 'Watchmen,' you're a moron. If you see it yourself, you're also probably a moron and a vapid, indecent human being." She goes on to say that "I haven't seen a more violent, depraved movie in years. This movie makes the graphic bloodshed of the recently released 'Friday the 13th' look like 'Cinderella.' ... There were so many disgusting, morbid, grisly scenes and acts of killing, I had to start writing them down. And that's in addition to the rape scene between superheroes (complete with the violent beating of a female superhero) and an explicit sex scene between two other superheroes. Oh, and don't forget another superhero's swinging computer-generated penis frequently in your face."

Schlussel is also offended by what she calls the "slutty" behavior of various superheros, as well as by a "lesbian make-out scene," but what really sets her off is the idea that the big Hollywood studios behind "Watchmen" are marketing the bloody R-rated film to children -- or as she puts it in her classically overheated way: "... they are pimping the movie to all niches, especially your young kids." It's a pretty shocking charge, since the movie is clearly unsuitable for young children, which is why it's rated R in the first place.

So where is Schlussel's evidence that Warners is selling "Watchmen" to kids, as she charges? Ahem, well, actually, she has no evidence, not unless you count the fact that she saw a woman with a 10-year-old line up to get a free pass to the screening she attended. If she has any better evidence than that, she's saving it up for another diatribe. When I asked my 10-year-old if he'd seen any "Watchmen" ads on his favorite TV shows, he said no, adding, "Come on, Dad, that movie looks way too scary for kids." I think he got the message. Too bad Schlussel is too obsessed with whupping Hollywood with her whupping stick to realize that whatever you think of "Watchmen" (and Lord knows it's already earned its share of pans -- my favorite, from the New Yorker's Anthony Lane, is here), no sane parent has been hypnotized into believing it's a movie for kids.

 
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The 21st century has greatly broadened the line of what is acceptable and what is not in family movies. Even in the 2008 family-movie Marley and Me, which garnered itself a PG rating, several questionable scenes involving skinny-dipping, intense depression, and stabbing might have caught the parents of younger children a bit off guard. Let's face it- in this new millenium drenched with wars and terrorism, our children are constantly being barraged with scenes of violence and despair. But does Hollywood have the right to cash in on the provocative nature of these changing times by adding more violence and nudity into films?

The simple answer is yes, they have every right. Hollywood wants money. Entertainment is money. Be it gruesome and violent entertainment, the truth of the matter is that blood sells. Tv news stations thrive on death and injury because these stories captivate audiences. People have a natural morbid curiosity towards death and destruction. Why? Because it is so close to our heart. We view it in the newspapers, on the television screen, and yes, in the movie theaters on nearly an every day basis. As violence becomes more of the norm, movies must adapt to keep their audiences captivated. For example, watch the first James Bond Dr. No movie, and compare it with todays blow-your-head-off James Bond movies. Compare the flum-dingingness of the original Batman (1989) to The Dark Knight's dark, demented Joker. Definitely more gruesome.

Watchmen is following in suit with these darkening times, creating an experience that is darker, more mature, and more emotional than anything we will ever find in say, the original Superman movie. As the world around us shrinks into darkening shadows, movies like Watchmen have to press the limit of what is acceptable in order to reach a broader audience. Of course, this movie is rated R, but that most likely won't stop younger teens from seeing this movie. Nor should it stop them, as this movie is likely directed just as much towards the youtful audience as it is to the adult audience.

Yes, Watchmen may be a little more morbid than you're used to, as it pushes the boundaries of violence yet another step forwards. But honestly, would you really want it any other way?

Agree with everything you said. Except ...

What's wrong with wanting Obama to fail policy wise? If you don't believe in what he's doing, why should you want him to succeed? I believe Rush has said, pretty plainly, on many occasions that he doesn't want the country to suffer, for that to happen, Obama can't implement his policies. I think the term is loyal opposition, something the majority party displayed in spades and them some for the prior eight years.

Can you say with a straight face that Keith Olbermann wanted George W. Bush to succeed? If he thought Bush failing would help the country, he sure wouldn't. I know many, personally and in the media, who hated Bush to the extreme they were hoping we'd lose staggeringly in Iraq.

That said, this moron is on his way to the first Watchmen showing tomorrow. Keep up the good work on the blog.

Wow, let begin this post by cheap shots at right wingers. But I do agree that Debbie Schlussel is nucking futs. However, in the interests of fairness, you ought to link to Jonah Goldberg's piece on Watchmen over at Big Hollywood.

Sadly, you are highballing the intelligence of the American parent. The theater I was in had posted a warning in their window that "Watchmen" was rated R and detailed why, and also flatly stated that children wouldn't be allowed into the showing under any circumstances (which is why I love that theater). I asked them if that was a preventative measure: I was told they'd already had problems.

And I live, oh, less than five miles from not one but two Ivy League universities.

The surname "Schlussel" sounds very dirty with sexual overtones. I will not let my kids read anything with her name on it.

Ah, you might want to get a warm, damp towel and clean yourself off.

hey creep,

here are some watchmen lunchcans: http://www.wbshop.com/Lunchboxes/wmlunchboxes,default,sc.html
how's that for evidence?

So who exactly are the Watchmen lunch boxes targeted for? Comic-loving construction workers?

http://www.wbshop.com/Lunchboxes/wmlunchboxes,default,sc.html

So who exactly are the Watchmen lunch boxes targeted for? Comic-loving construction workers?

http://www.wbshop.com/Lunchboxes/wmlunchboxes,default,sc.html

Brilliantly, John Nolte at Big Hollywood has his rebuttal for you; they're totally marketing to kids, because look, there's merchandise! The merchandise he links to is merchandise for... geeks. Adult geeks. John Nolte is a little out of touch, I fear. Like many conservatives, he doesn't understand that the world is slightly more complicated than his prejudices will let him see.

 
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