HBO’s Watchmen and its opening sequence: The Tulsa Incident

Since its creation, Watchmen has been a comic of superheroes with a very dark identity. This story is about the worst of heroism, society, and politics and of course humanity’s nature. Although its comic ended, and it has a movie adaptation, a HBO TV series was announced in order to continue as a sequel of the events of narrated in the comic. What is truly polemic is that its opening sequence makes us revive a terrible moment of the history of the United States – The Tulsa riot incident, and yes: that is what we want to see in this new adaptation of the franchise, because Watchmen is about the main villain of the story – the darkest side of society.

Alan’s Moore graphic novel tells us about the decay of the American Dream of United States through the eyes of group vigilantes that resemble Marvel’s and DC’s superheroes – the Watchmen. However, those heroes are way much darker, realists and pessimistic, giving us an idea of how real heroes should be if they would exist in a reality in which there are many social and moral conflicts in existence.  

In The Watchmen story, we get to see reality in an alternate timeline. The world of this comic is very similar than ours, but there were some incidents in history that are modified – in the majority of the cases, giving us different historical events that make us think about “what ifs” (a common literary resource in comics and porno doido used to show a different reality if something different occurred in the past). 

For example, in Watchmen’s timeline the United States won the Vietnam’s war thanks to superhero intervention, giving us a totally different perception of what really happened. Due to the accidental creation of Dr. Manhattan (a supernatural being tied in strength to the almighty Superman) and his war support to the US, history changed completely. And that was very attractive to the readers because the horrors of Vietnam are explained and detailed by the experiences of the characters of the story: that war was real. Yes, its results were mere fiction in the comic, but all the horrible massacres in Vietnam were not covered, but showed – and giving us a story that does not fear anything about showing humanity’s cruelty. And here comes Tulsa, in the new series of HBO.

Something similar is being shown in the opening sequence of HBO’s Watchmen. It starts by showing us a riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921. People are being tortured, shot, burned and massacred without mercy. To be more specific, black population is being attacked by white people. We do not realize about what is happening, we do not know if what happened in 1921 is a piece of fiction shown by the series. We do not want to believe such violence is truth. We do some research. And our fears are confirmed: all of this is real.

The Tulsa race riot occurred in 1921. It was considered a very prosperous district, and what was very amazing about it is that there were a lot of afro American professionals giving their best in the city. Doctors, economists, and teachers – it was unbelievable by the time to find so much productivity in a place in which Afro-Americans were living, and it was even considered by many as the Black Wall Street. However, the problem of racism was latent. People still remembered the ashes of the American Civil War, and many of the white population still had grudge against black people in Greenwood. 

What is recorded about the incident is that its origin as because A 19 years old black shoeshiner named Dick Rowland was accused by Sarah Page (a 17 years old white elevator operator of the nearby Drexel Building) of trying to rape her. Although most of the civilians that met Dick knew he was innocent, they were aware that white people of the district would not accept that possibility, and they would do the impossible in order to lynch Dick. Black people tried to defend the young man of the white mob, and a gunshot occurred that left 10 white people and 2 black people dead. This was the spark of the slaughter. 

Soon the white crowds of the Greenwood district outnumbered the black people, and attacked them with everything they had. Even private aircrafts attacked the town, decimating innocent people. The strongest believers of the white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan participated in the massacre too. Many black innocent people died, many were injured and thousands were homeless by the end of the riot.

This is one of the darkest moments in the history of United States, and for a lot of time; it was censorship by the government. It is amazing to know how so many people do not even know about this event, and this is most impactful message that HBO’s watchmen gives us. 

And that is what we loved about Watchmen’s first episode: the true villain is always going to be injustice. We must remember that there are certain ideals that are extremely difficult to eliminate, but they must be punished one way or another. This series makes us remember that we can forget, but not forgive the sins committed in the past. Therefore, the Watchmen must watch, their watch has not ended yet. 

Social classes and Star Wars

Since its creation, the franchise of George Lucas has captivated the hearts of people. The journeys of the Skywalker bloodline are pure adventure, and every time we experience its universe we feel like legendary warriors wearing light sabers. However, even though there is a lot of fan service in this intergalactic saga – we must pay attention to its very core. And one of the most important topics that Star Wars tells is about social groups and their problems, diversity and life in times of totalitarism. 

In this post, our main purpose is to describe the most important social groups that we can see in many of the movies, x videos, comics and videogames in the franchise, and try to explain their origins and what inspired them. 

The first main social class that we can see in the franchise is the working class. Luke is part of very humble family, considered farmers in a land that most people do not have greater opportunities of finding better jobs in order to improve their social status. Obi Wan is the driving force that makes Luke think that he can be greater, that he can start his own personal journey. Peasants in the system are completely necessary, but in the modern days they are almost invisible and ignored by medium social classes and the elites.

Then we start knowing about the existence of a totalitarist regime known as The Galactic Empire. This organization controlled almost all the systems in the galaxies within the Star Wars universe, crushing every one of their enemies without hesitation. Their true goal is to eradicate the remnants of the Jedi Order, and to have an empire that would last eternally. Dictatorial regimes seek all the same purpose: to control everything the societies they rule, and they are always afraid of losing the power they have gained through violence and lies. In the first movies we get to see what the Intergalactic Empire looks like, but when we explore this franchise and we know more, we cannot even believe how similar is this system with others of the real life that existed in the past (The Nazis, URSS and even The Roman Empire). 

And it is true that every force needs a countering force. And this is the case of The Rebel Alliance. Races from all over the galaxy gather themselves in order to plan and weaken the Intergalactic Empire, waiting for an opportunity for them for ending the tyranny that the people of the universe have been suffering since the autocracy of the empire began. Those groups represent the anarchic groups of our modern society. And they must exist, because when power is controlled by only few, it corrupts its wielders little by little. Power is a politic responsibility and in a democracy, it must be distributed considering the popular opinion of people. If it is not, it is important to organize ourselves, and break the laws that enslave us. Because not all laws are intended to be used for justice, but for control. And people have the right to be free, to some extent.

And then we can see the balance between the dark side and the good side of The Force, or in our society – the moral concepts of good and evil. Although we can have infinity of meanings in Star Wars, we have to remember that these mulheres peladas are mainly focused on the journey of a hero. Just as Campbell explained the adventure of heroic characters in The Hero with Thousand Faces (1949), Luke Skywalker must overcome a series of difficulties in order to continue his fighting for good, until he becomes a man and he finds out his resolution as a Jedi – a hero of justice in this franchise. 

The Force can be interpreted as our morals, ethics, willpower, spirit and true nature that must be trained to its full potential in the good side of it, and the dark side of this power is considered to be very powerful but almost uncontrollable. Both are sides of the same coin, and represent our beliefs, our ethics. There are people that use power in order to control the lives of others in a society and although they manage to do so, the consequences of oppressing others are typically punishing at the end. A person of charity is happy without control, and they have control over their inner selves because at the same time, they control nothing. This perception of Star Wars about The Force is much related to Buddhism, and we think that at the same time Sith and Jedi are the heads of religions that are against each other. 

And there is a lot of social groups that should be explored (like the Bounty Hunters, the Jedi Academy, the Council) but it is all that we can cover for now. This universe is rich in details – and contains tons of fictional cultures that make tribute to our society. We must be conscious about the fact that most social groups in fiction are indeed based on our reality. There are so many similarities that we think that what George Lucas wanted to express with these movies are the idea of liberty against dictatorship in a literary point of view. And he managed to do it. It is simple, reader: if we unite, we can gain freedom. And we must remember that liberty is a right of humankind, but in order to preserve peace and freedom, we have to be willing to sacrifice our pride and join with others to build a better world for next generations.