11

In Watchmen (TV series), we get to know that the Seventh Kavalry is inspired by Rorschach's journal and became an extreme racists group. But how come? What part of the journal made this transition in misinterpretation?

  • 6
    Probably related to the fact that the journal was printed in New Frontiersman, a right-wing newspaper. It seems that the showrunners made a simple connection right-wing = white supremacist, even if Rorschach himself was not one (I don't remember anything indicating this in the comic book). – Chanandler Bong Nov 4 '19 at 10:44
  • 5
    Historically speaking, white supremacists have been inspired by a lot of different material that was not originally intended to convey a white supremacist message. (Darwin's work on evolution being a pretty big example.) You know the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Turns out racism is, too. – Steve-O Nov 4 '19 at 14:08
  • 4
    @ChanandlerBong There's a lot in the book that come close to the alt-right/white supremacist talking points you see nowadays. "They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman... Instead they followed the dropping of lechers and communists and didn't realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late." and "Meeting with Veidt left bad taste in mouth. He is papered and decadent, betraying even his own shallow, liberal affections. Possibly homosexual? Must remember to investigate further." Don't know the show well enough to answer, though. – GGMG-he-him Nov 4 '19 at 23:25
  • @GGMG-he-him Rorschach definitely had right-wing views, but does it change anything in what I wrote above? Yes, we can assume that as a right-wing sympathizer he probably was a white supremacist, but that would still only be assumption. It seems that the same assumption was made by the showrunners. – Chanandler Bong Nov 5 '19 at 13:02
  • 2
    @ChanandlerBong: Also, while Rorschach's political affiliation isn't on display (AFAIK), he is archetypically defined as someone who sees things in black and white, which is something right-wing extremists generally tend to do too (no skin color pun intended). While Rorschach doesn't have racist ideas (again AFAIK), his general underlying "good vs bad" ideology may resonate with those who do have racist ideas. – Flater Nov 6 '19 at 22:16
7

What part of the journal made this transition in misinterpretation?

It has less to do with the journal itself, and more to do with the publisher of Rorshach's journal, the New Frontiersman, being a right-wing, racist publication. This appealed to like-minded people.

Quoting documents from Peteypedia, which elaborates further. Peteypedia is an HBO website that contains supplementary material for the show. In-universe, it contains files collated by Dale Petey, the FBI agent who was selected by Laurie Blake to be her partner when she was tasked to investigate Judd Crawford's death.

In File 1, Memo: "Rorshach's Journal":

Note: Kovacs here is "Walter Kovacs" AKA "Rorshach."

Kovacs was also an avid reader of New Frontiersman, an extreme right-tilt tabloid prone to yellow journalism and Red Scare paranoia, whose editor of the period, Hector Godfrey, was a vociferous supporter of masked vigilantes. It appears Kovacs read the newspaper to the exclusion of any other source of news. A generous appraisal of Kovacs would say that he merely collected the periodical for its glowing coverage of his war on crime. But Godfrey was also a hideous racist. An example can be found in an editorial published prior to Kovacs’ disappearance. Taking exception to a critic of masked vigilantes (until then, a largely white male phenomenon) who compared them to a modern day Ku Klux Klan, Godfrey proceeded to defend the KKK: “[I] might point out that despite what some might view to be their later excesses, the Klan originally came into being because decent people had perfectly reasonable fears for the safety of their persons and belongings when forced into proximity with people from a culture far less morally advanced. No, the Klan were not strictly legal, but they did work voluntarily to preserve American culture in areas where there were very real dangers of that culture being overrun and mongrelized.”

These psychological details, ideological frames, and media habits are incidental to an incisive understanding of Kovacs. But they are essential to any reckoning of Rorschach’s appeal and the writings attributed to him.

...New Frontiersman published “Rorschach’s Journal” in its entirety. The bookazine became a best-seller that appealed to a wide variety of curiosities, including right wing extremists. Some take it as a history book, others, devotional literature. For them, “Rorschach’s Journal”—and Godfrey’s interpretation of it—challenges the new, heretical orthodoxy that makes them feel marginalized and obsolete, written by a revolutionary they revere as a saint.

...This belief is the justification for any number of anti-social behaviors, from the formation of drop-out communities known as “Nixonvilles,” to domestic terrorists like the aforementioned Seventh Kavalry, who protest the president by committing violence against symbols of the executive branch, which is to say, law enforcement.

In File 2, Memo: Masked Vigilantes in Pop Culture

New on the radar is the re-release of The Book of Rorschach by Sons of Pale Horse, a short-lived space rock band of the nineties named after the popular death metal group that perished on November 2 during the Dimensional Incursion Event.

... all you need to know is that the album was inspired by “Rorschach’s Journal” ... and that the record is known to be popular with two types of vigilante profiles on the Werthem Spectrum, the rare Objectivist/Messianic and the increasingly common Paramilitary/Nihilist. An obvious example would be the Seventh Kavalry in Oklahoma. Field reports from Tulsa have indicated that original editions of The Book of Rorschach were found in 7K homes during the police raids that followed the “White Night” in 2016.

The record contains an essay written by Seymour David. If you know the lore behind “Rorschach’s Journal,” then you know that David was the one who discovered it while working as an editorial assistant at New Frontiersman in the eighties...

...the legends of Rorschach have inspired copycats over the decades — including those, like the 7K, who misappropriate him to some degree by projecting their own extremist ideologies onto him...

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .