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Thread: Rorschach

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    In Shamus Young's recent post there was an interesting conversation about Rorschach, and many people claiming they dislike him vs. some liking him. And one element that come often in favour of Rorschach is that "He never compromise his principles".

    Here is the post I just made in the comments, and I thought about opening up the discussion here.

    I dislike Rorschach, but for a single reason: he likes the Comedian.

    I donít understand why people say that Rorschach never compromises, he DID. Rorschach has no problem about the Comedian because ďhe serves his countryĒ. Yhea, a attempt-rapist, murderer, child/mother killer, is okay because he does the governementís dirty work?

    So, when you take that into consideration, the whole character collapse: No. Sorry. Rorschach is an hypocrit ******* that arbitrary decide whoís right and wrong. He beats innocent people just to get intel (I donít care what neighbourhood you hang around, just being in a bar doesnít warrant being attacked by Rorschach to give him a tip).

    Hell, how many innocent bones did Rorschach broke just to get the Pyramid tip?

    Ozymandia was my favourite character. He clearly had problem about what he was going to do, but.. he had to do it. He was afraid for humankin. He wants to have people to be healthier, richer, more propesrous. In peace. He kills only when he HAS to, and even then, he is fill with doubt and remorse afterwhile.

    Did Rorschach even shown a pinge of remorse, or the slightest possibility that he might be wrong about his suspects?
    Now, you may or may not agree about my interpretation of Ozymandia. Fair ennough, but this is isn't about Ozzy. It's about Rorschach.

    What do you think?

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    I think that's what makes Rorschach such a tragic character. Had an abominable upbringing, but was still a good person until chasing after bad ones finally broke him (see Nietzsche re: the abyss and monsters) and he went bat****. He clings to his code to the point of being a sociopath and a murderer. It makes sense for him to have some respect for the Comedian- the only other one of his social circle who, to his mind, hasn't sold-out. And finally:

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    When Ozy's plan demonstrates- unavoidably- that he can't even cling to that code anymore, he essentially commits suicide-by-Manhattan. (Hell, if he'd even pretended to accept the plan, Ozy might have let him live). And dies crying, with his mask off.

    I read it that the weight of everything he's done and how his brand of 'crimefighting' has no place in the world, finally hit him.


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    I like him; he's principled and that steady fast refusal to compromise is admirable, if a bit off. He likely respects the Comedian for being the only other person to be able to see the world as Rorasach sees it, and for also never compromising his own beliefs. Really, in my mind, Rorasach is the closest thing to a hero in Watchmen, but that's not saying much.
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    Rorschach never compromises his principles, or at least he never sees himself as doing so.

    Rorschach believes that everybody is either an upstanding citizen or criminal scum. If you're an upstanding citizen, you can do no wrong, if you're criminal scum, you deserve anything you get.
    The Comedian was a masked adventurer, Rorschach felt that justified his "Moral Lapses", therefore he was in the "Good Citizen" category. He assumes that people that hang around in bars like Harry's are criminal scum.


    Now, this is a ridiculous philosophy, it's unrealistic and hypocritical, but it is internally consistent.

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    Haven't read Watchmen in a long time but I'm not sure if any affection Rorschach had for the Comedian was as simple as that. I don't recall that quote much less the context it was in.

    Further more the logic that has such a statement equalling a violation of Rorschach's principles is dubious at best given Rorschach himself has little problem with violence and breaking the law. Also he don't know how much Rorschach knows about the Comedian's past given that he's not a mind reader who would know about say Comedian and Manhattan in Vietnam from the latter's recollection of it. Hell Rorschach only knew the Comedian was dead from snooping in his apartment and being slightly genre savvy about Clark Kenting, its entirely possible they only met once and that meeting didn't see much interaction between the two.

    Also Rorschach is supposed to be hypocritical and in fact not at all admirable. I think Alan Moore failed in this regard because in a world of compromising moral reletavism someone taking a strong view is inherently compelling, hence the large not-actually-misaimed fandom. The writer failed to construct his point to be his point. Now given Rorschach definition of "scum/evil should be punished" can be arbitrary, but its still a principle he holds too much much better then everyone else in the universe hold to theirs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    Also Rorschach is supposed to be hypocritical and in fact not at all admirable. I think Alan Moore failed in this regard because in a world of compromising moral reletavism someone taking a strong view is inherently compelling, hence the large not-actually-misaimed fandom. The writer failed to construct his point to be his point.
    See, I think that's a failure in the readers. Pragmatism is one of the most under-rated virtues. Can't deny Rorschach is entertaining as hell, but when the comic goes into his personality and background, he's absolutely pathetic. Unwashed, ultra-right wing, probably still a virgin, creepy, paranoid and bloodthirsty. In any other comic, he'd be the villain (albeit with a tragic backstory).
    Last edited by TheBST; 2010-01-15 at 12:36 PM.

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    Rorschach's philosophy doesn't strike me as hypocritical; it does have a very strong element of "Everything my side does is good and everything your side does is evil," but people with fanatically strongly held beliefs tend to fall into that. I think BRC really hit the nail on the head here; Rorschach only thinks in black-and-white moral terms, and Comedian was sufficiently aligned with his beliefs and goals for Rorschach to declare him good. I find Rorschach somewhere between a tragic hero and an admirable villain; his determination, resourcefulness, and focus are admirable, and his goals are semi-admirable, but the means he uses are abominable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBST View Post
    See, I think that's a failure in the readers. Pragmatism is one of the most under-rated virtues. Can't deny Rorschach is entertaining as hell, but when the comic goes into his personality and background, he's absolutely pathetic. Unwashed, ultra-right wing, probably still a virgin, creepy, paranoid and bloodthirsty. In any other comic, he'd be the villain (albeit with a tragic backstory).
    On the other hand, in a world were everyone has compromised themselves, a character who refuses to do so is going to inherently be at least a little likable. That doesn't mean he isn't crazy, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBST View Post
    See, I think that's a failure in the readers. Pragmatism is one of the most under-rated virtues. Can't deny Rorschach is entertaining as hell, but when the comic goes into his personality and background, he's absolutely pathetic. Unwashed, ultra-right wing, probably still a virgin, creepy, paranoid and bloodthirsty. In any other comic, he'd be the villain (albeit with a tragic backstory).
    This.

    Although it should be noted: I am a fan of Rorschach, and it should be noted that I also know him to be a pathetic loonie.

    He's cool, but I think Alan Moore made it pretty clear that he is not what a superhero is supposed to be.

    Too bad Liefeld didn't get the messege.
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    I like Rorschach as a character (he is my favourite in watchman).

    As I person I pity him, he is obviously insane and he doesn't see shades of gray in a world that is obviously just a big shade of gray.

    Still, he is strangely admirable in some way. Maybe my liking of him is due to my extreme disliking of Ozymandias, but since you stated that the thread is about Rorschach and not him I won't go into why I dislike him so much.

    Also

    Quote Originally Posted by Leliel View Post
    He's cool, but I think Alan Moore made it pretty clear that he is not what a superhero is supposed to be.
    I don't think any of the watchmen character are meant to be what a superhero is supposed to be.
    Last edited by Strawberries; 2010-01-15 at 01:30 PM.

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    The way I see it, Rorschach is what happens when you take morality as presented by pre-watchmen comic books (where everybody was either a Hero, Innocent victim, or criminal scumbag) and put it in a more realistic world, where somebody who fights crime may be a sociopath hiding behind a flag, and where somebody who drinks at a criminal dive bar may just be a guy wanting a drink.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBST View Post
    See, I think that's a failure in the readers. Pragmatism is one of the most under-rated virtues. Can't deny Rorschach is entertaining as hell, but when the comic goes into his personality and background, he's absolutely pathetic. Unwashed, ultra-right wing, probably still a virgin, creepy, paranoid and bloodthirsty. In any other comic, he'd be the villain (albeit with a tragic backstory).
    There's pragmatism and then there's having no strong values whatsoever. I think most of Watchmen's cast is clearly the latter. Ozymandias is compellingly pragmatic but buys into the stupid and dated politics that hijacked the whole story and I largely can't discuss here. Sometimes I think Alan Moore is tricking me and the politics are delieberately stupid, but then I remember he's a British writer in the 80s when the anti-Christ 'clearly' controlled both America and Britain. And I really better stop there before I get genuine politics into my sarcasm.

    Also the implication that virginity is a villainous trait is something I find terribly amusing having been reading about Double Standard tropes just last night.

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    Rorschach? He's the best character in the entire series. That comic would have been nothing without him (ok, not nothing but not nearly as good).

    He isn't good, hell you can argue that the only good characters are the Nite Owls and the Silk Spectres.

    As to his liking the Comedian, it has to do a lot with his own self delusion. He wasn't there for the raping and therefore didn't believe it (shown when he questions someone for accepting the allegations made in the original Nite Owls book). What would have happened if he saw the Comedian rape someone? Well you could debate this all you want but my personal view is he'd be writing in his journal about how he was wrong about the Comedian and more convinced than ever how all of humanity are scum.

    As to Ozy. I find that people like or dislike the character proportionally to how much they question his logic. If someone thinks he's the smartest man in the world and is making these claims that the murders were necessary then they tend to see him as some self sacrificing hero. If someone asks, ok you're obviously crazy with some kind of god complex, please show me how you came up with your conclusions, they tend to look at him in a more negative light.

    I am one of the later.

    Also, random comment. Does anyone else find it interesting that the Comedian, the psychopath who even Oxy calls intelligent and who uncovers the big secret before everyone else seems to agree with Oxy's conclusions? And what's more decides to stay in the city he knew was going to be destroyed.
    Last edited by Dienekes; 2010-01-15 at 01:30 PM.

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    Rorscharch was not Good, but he was very Awesome.

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    I dislike Ozymandias's personality, but I think he did more good for the world than the rest of the characters combined in the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    Also, random comment. Does anyone else find it interesting that the Comedian, the psychopath who even Oxy calls intelligent and who uncovers the big secret before everyone else seems to agree with Oxy's conclusions? And what's more decides to stay in the city he knew was going to be destroyed.
    I think that at that point Comedian's completely given up on life. Remember that he spent much of his life as Nixon's personal assassin. Realizing that he'd spent his life contributing to the Cold War and therefore increasing the odds of world destruction, and that there was a better way he'd never thought of, would be pretty heartbreaking even for someone as cynical as him. I think he just didn't care very much whether he lived or died at the end.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    There's pragmatism and then there's having no strong values whatsoever. I think most of Watchmen's cast is clearly the latter.
    Well, if you were in the same position as Dan, Laurie etc, what would you do? They're both weak willed, but they're still decent people of conscience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    stupid and dated politics that hijacked the whole story and I largely can't discuss here. Sometimes I think Alan Moore is tricking me and the politics are delieberately stupid, but then I remember he's a British writer in the 80s when the anti-Christ 'clearly' controlled both America and Britain.
    Erm... the world in Watchmen has a completely different poltiical landscape from ours thanks to Manhattan. Also, re: 'anti-christ'- what the hell are you talking about?


    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    Also the implication that virginity is a villainous trait is something I find terribly amusing
    I was giving it as an example of something sad about Rorschach's character, not something 'villainous'. (Although a paragraph break between that and my last remark might've given some clarity)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SurlySeraph View Post
    I dislike Ozymandias's personality, but I think he did more good for the world than the rest of the characters combined in the end.



    I think that at that point Comedian's completely given up on life. Remember that he spent much of his life as Nixon's personal assassin. Realizing that he'd spent his life contributing to the Cold War and therefore increasing the odds of world destruction, and that there was a better way he'd never thought of, would be pretty heartbreaking even for someone as cynical as him. I think he just didn't care very much whether he lived or died at the end.
    ...What? Are we talking about the same Blake who seemed to be having a break down to Moloch? The way he acted implied that, even to Blake, Ozzy's plan seemed wrong. He basically said, "I've done bad things; but nothing like this. Nothing on this scale."
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    I love Rorshach as a character - that doesn't mean I necessarily approve of his actions and "like" him, but he's certainly sympathetic, and Moore did a brilliant job showing us his inner life and motivations.

    And we do see that he's not completely without compassion to the "bad guys" - he gives Moloch a pass on his illegal cancer drugs, for instance (yeah, he says he'll report them to the cops, but there's no evidence he actually does).

    Rorschach is the great existentialist hero. He's looked into the heart of the universe and seen nothing looking back except humanity's reflection, and he has the courage to abandon any comforting illusions and be free to impose his own morals on the world, because there aren't any others. Now, that's certainly not Moore's point of view, as a cursory look at his other work shows, but it is a powerful, persuasive one, and it makes for a great character.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    As to his liking the Comedian, it has to do a lot with his own self delusion. He wasn't there for the raping and therefore didn't believe it (shown when he questions someone for accepting the allegations made in the original Nite Owls book). What would have happened if he saw the Comedian rape someone? Well you could debate this all you want but my personal view is he'd be writing in his journal about how he was wrong about the Comedian and more convinced than ever how all of humanity are scum.
    This is about how I feel. Rorschach was hardly the man's confident and long companion, he doesn't necessarily know the stuff we know about him. And even if he did you can justify past events from secondhand sources much easier then something right in front of you.

    Though there is the question of what Rorschach how rape plays into Rorschach's world view to begin with. I dare say he's close to Frank Miller with WHORESWHORESWHORES on this front and may consider rape deserved. Which is of course wrong, but can be consistent with Rorschach's own views. Never mind people that spout that kind of stuff in real life.

    As to Ozy. I find that people like or dislike the character proportionally to how much they question his logic. If someone thinks he's the smartest man in the world and is making these claims that the murders were necessary then they tend to see him as some self sacrificing hero. If someone asks, ok you're obviously crazy with some kind of god complex, please show me how you came up with your conclusions, they tend to look at him in a more negative light.
    Not quite fair to the original comic, but a few decades later questioning Ozy's logic gets much easier. Then there's the implications as to how its only a stopgap measure and only buy a little bit of time.

    I sharply disagree with Ozymandias and largely find the end of Watchmen the comic both enraging and dare I speak the heresy.... inferior to its movie ending. Though even that is questionable.

    Also, random comment. Does anyone else find it interesting that the Comedian, the psychopath who even Oxy calls intelligent and who uncovers the big secret before everyone else seems to agree with Oxy's conclusions? And what's more decides to stay in the city he knew was going to be destroyed.
    At the risk of over simplifying Watchmen has only three characters who are not the Last Man. The Comedian I think simply lacked the will or wit to become the Ubermensch despite being aware of all the it as the 'true end' given the hollowness of the world delusions of reality. Thus respects one of the two Ubermensch characters, for being what he could only hint at with this parody.

    Or something like that.

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    Even taking aside all the points that have been made, I dislike Rorschach. Canonically, he was one step (at best) from being a nazi. And when you really read or listen to his speech at the beginning, he wanted everything to go to hell. He wanted to get to watch as the city burned.

    He was psychotic and violent and cared very little about even his friends. He was a "Purge by Fire" kind of guy, and that isn't something I like.
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    Allow me to join Soras in the heresy, I liked the movie's ending better, or at least the fact that it had Ozy attack multiple cities, to make it look like the world was Attacked, not just New York, which makes it look like the US was attacked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Allow me to join Soras in the heresy, I liked the movie's ending better, or at least the fact that it had Ozy attack multiple cities, to make it look like the world was Attacked, not just New York, which makes it look like the US was attacked.
    The problem I have with that is that New York was attacked last. Dr. Manhattan was America's weapon in the hearts and minds of the world. Attacking America last, especially with even a slight delay? The nukes would be en route before anybody could deny or denounce involvement.
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    I prefer the squid, but like the 'attacking multiple cities' part. As far as how Rape would fit in; he attacks rapists, so it's more than possible they fall under 'criminal scum,' to him.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBST View Post
    Erm... the world in Watchmen has a completely different poltiical landscape from ours thanks to Manhattan. Also, re: 'anti-christ'- what the hell are you talking about?
    So you are not aware of the leaders of Britain and America in the 1980s and how their opposition considered them dangerous warmongers and probably fascists that stood against all the 'freedoms' the late 60s had fought for while in the pocket of the greedy capitalists just waiting to ruin everything?

    I would say that if you can be unaware of the political tract then I'll quietly consider it a demonstration of how wrong said tracts conclusions are because it does no longer resemble our political landscape, because the Cold War ended peacefully in defiance of everybody's predictions
    Last edited by Soras Teva Gee; 2010-01-15 at 02:14 PM.

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    Thirding the heresy. It also gives Dr. Manhattan a better reason to leave Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBST View Post
    Erm... the world in Watchmen has a completely different poltiical landscape from ours thanks to Manhattan. Also, re: 'anti-christ'- what the hell are you talking about?
    I believe he's referring to Alan Moore's presumable opinion of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
    EDIT: Ninja'd by the man himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by doliest View Post
    ...What? Are we talking about the same Blake who seemed to be having a break down to Moloch? The way he acted implied that, even to Blake, Ozzy's plan seemed wrong. He basically said, "I've done bad things; but nothing like this. Nothing on this scale."
    Oh, he's certainly horrified by it, but as Dienekes said he seems to accept that it's the only way to prevent a nuclear war.
    Last edited by SurlySeraph; 2010-01-15 at 02:16 PM.
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    I fail to see how "No, that guy is too fat to be hurt by your fire" would make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Allow me to join Soras in the heresy, I liked the movie's ending better, or at least the fact that it had Ozy attack multiple cities, to make it look like the world was Attacked, not just New York, which makes it look like the US was attacked.
    Agreed. Movie ending was better for me too. Also, the very treath he used was less of an ass-pull than in the Comic... People had a very reason to fear something they knew.

    You all talk about my first point, but how about the second? Is it moral to walk into a bar and broke random bones until someone tell you what you want to hear? This isn't about not catering to a criminal's comfort while in prison. This is about torturing potentially innocent people at random!

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    Default Re: Rorschach

    Quote Originally Posted by doliest View Post
    I prefer the squid, but like the 'attacking multiple cities' part.

    I like both. In the book it makes sense that the squid "attacked" only New York, since it is supposed to be an accidental event. The movie one fits more with the rest of the movie, since there wouldn't have been time to show the clues that we get in the book about the construction of the squid.

    Golentan, I didn't remembre New york was attacked last but you are certainly right, even a slight delay would have been enough to make the rest of the world's powers attack, since Manhattan was the american weapon.

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    I always thought that the bar was a bar that specifically catered to criminal clientele; especially since it's implied that he usually gets answers like this, implying that the fingers he breaks belong to criminals.

    Quote Originally Posted by SurlySeraph View Post

    Oh, he's certainly horrified by it, but as Dienekes said he seems to accept that it's the only way to prevent a nuclear war.
    Really? I didn't notice a part in the comic where that's implied, mainly because we only get two scenes with him after the point where he would have discovered Ozzy's plan. Maybe you could point me too that?
    Last edited by doliest; 2010-01-15 at 02:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolkaTruesilver View Post
    Agreed. Movie ending was better for me too. Also, the very treath he used was less of an ass-pull than in the Comic... People had a very reason to fear something they knew.
    I like it because it leaves more wiggle room for human nature (ie the good parts about it) to assert itself and the defusing the Cold War more in line actual cooperation since everybody got hit, everybody gets the cold splash of water and a chance to consider the idiocy the plot was railroading them too. Aside from being at once a more tangible and less fightable threat, the people of the world know they can to crap to Manhattan.

    You all talk about my first point, but how about the second? Is it moral to walk into a bar and broke random bones until someone tell you what you want to hear? This isn't about not catering to a criminal's comfort while in prison. This is about torturing potentially innocent people at random!
    I believe Rorschach would growl in monotone about how this bar is an underworld hideout and the innocent go home with their families not hang out in a place like that.

    Rorschach virtue is not in his violence or his judgemental zealotry but that in a Crapsack World he's one of two that refuse to give up. The lapses are excused by said crapsack world. What people are drawn to is that even if its driven him insane, even if its hopeless, even if he's wrong, even if there's no reason to keep going... Rorschach does.

    Rorschach isn't moral or decent, but he is Batman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    So you are not aware of the leaders of Britain and America in the 1980s and how their opposition considered them dangerous warmongers and probably fascists that stood against all the 'freedoms' the late 60s had fought for while in the pocket of the greedy capitalists just waiting to ruin everything?
    Yeah, I'm aware of that. Just thought I'd check, because I honestly don't remember getting that vibe from th book. Also, considering the changes Manhattan made to recent history, (and the CUban missile crisis, etc) it didn't seem that crazy or dated- just different enough to the world we know to make Ozy's plan ambiguous in terms of it's success as well as it's morality.

    Now V for Vendetta, there's a clear anti-Thatcher/Reagan piece. (and I personally don't think either of those two people had good intentions..)

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