Watchmen - Metaphor For Our Economy?

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With the release of Watchmen on DVD and Blu-ray on 07.21.09 (as the studio likes to promote the date), many people will see this "what-if" movie for the first time. For others, it will be a re-visit to the first significant movie of 2009 to address issues relevant to our recessionary lives. It also marked the current low of the stock market, being released on March 6th (03.06.09) when the DOW was at 6626.09. Since then, the market has rallied 40% until falling back in the last few weeks.

Watchmen is a "what if" movie; what if Nixon had a 3rd term in office and what if America won the war in Vietnam? Change an event here or there and we have an alternate reality to consider. Would it be better than our current situation? What if superheroes were on America's side, helping us win wars or prevent wars, discover new technology or change the balance of power?

Investors play "what if" all the time. What if you sold out before Lehman Brothers? What if you had listened to that hot tip about Apple or Google? What if oil goes back over $100/barrel?

The point is, we have choices and we make decisions all the time. But what if, as in Watchmen, we let the smartest person in the world decide for us. Whatever the results, if that person is so smart, it must be good for us. What if millions die? What if individuals closest to us die? What if we don't even know this smart person is making these decisions? Would we let the smartest man decide for us all?

During the Enlightenment, society let benevolent despots do exactly that, decide for us all. Even now, investors abdicate decisions to smart people (experts) who tell us when and what to buy. We may not know the reasons or the logic behind the expert's thinking, but we trust them. We believe they have the answers. Trust is the basis of confidence. Trust is also at an all-time low, with the Madoff-type frauds, the gaps in regulations and oversight and the general market system which seems to be an insider's game.

The audience cheered for Rorschach after he was attacked in the prison cafeteria. He beats the hell out of his assailant and then stares down the prison population with these words: "I'm not locked in here with you, You're locked in here with me!" Rorschach is the movie's symbol of truth and integrity and, even locked away, he is in the power position.

At the end of Watchmen, after all the battles and millions of deaths, even after Rorschach the narrator is splattered into a red ink blot in the snow by Dr. Manhattan, the truth lives on. The story will be told through the crank files of the newspapers, where Rorschach's journal tells all. The story comes full circle again, back to the death of the Comedian and the yellow smiley face.

As the Comedian remarks, "I thought I knew how the world worked - I did bad things, but it was war."

The movie is book-ended by two Dylan songs, The Times They are A'Changin' and Desolation Row. We are somewhere in between these two tunes, like the characters in Watchmen. If I can paraphrase Dylan, "the loser now, will be later to win, for the economy, it is a'changin."

We just don't know exactly when it will all be back to "normal", if ever, but the changes are starting with Watchmen.

You owe it to yourself and your sanity to check out this movie on DVD. We need the truth and a return to the yellow smiley face to our everyday lives.

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Craig Forgrave has 1 articles online

Craig Forgrave is an author, screenwriter and professional manager of projects and investments. He has written Devil Jazz, published by ENC Press (NY) and maintains the investment web site He publishes an exclusive newsletter, the Red Carpet Report which explains his investment strategy which consistently beats the DOW Jones average. Sign up for a free one-month subscription here:

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Watchmen - Metaphor For Our Economy?

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This article was published on 2010/03/31