Want To Get Away … From People?

Anyone see the movie Watchmen? I thought it was a great treatment of the what if superheroes were real? premise. The film was better than most at shedding light on how these real people handled the trials of their everyday lives while balancing their vigilante duties.

The most compelling character, and the only one with serious superpowers, was Dr. Manhattan: a naked, blue-skinned Adonis who sported the symbol of a hydrogen atom on his forehead. He burned it into his skin using his finger when prompted to adopt a symbol for brand recognition. Apparently, marketing is even important for superheroes.

 

As a student of comic-book character bios, I’ve noticed that most beings endowed with super powers labor under feelings of being different. It really hampers their social interactions.

Spiderman has trouble relating to the opposite sex; Superman is always afraid of revealing his abilities; and Rogue from X-Men can’t even have anyone touch her skin, for fear of extracting their life-force. That’ll put a damper on anyone’s love life.

As if those kinds of inner struggles aren’t enough, Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen is tricked into believing that proximity to him causes people to develop cancer.

In the midst of a press conference, he learns of the deaths of former friends and colleagues; but the big shocker is when his ex-wife enters the studio. She is obviously suffering from the effects of chemotherapy, and it would be an understatement to say she’s not happy with him.

Normally unemotional, he expresses regret and claims that he didn’t know. She creates a scene on camera, and she incites a feeding frenzy by the press. Reporters surround him, shoving their microphones in his face, which shakes his Zenlike composure. He politely asks them to please go away and leave him alone; they impolitely decline. And that’s when he sheds any remaining Zen control and shouts, “I said, leave me alone! Instantly, everyone but him disappears. It was a darker version of Southwest Airlines’ “want to get away?” commercials.

 

The next scene takes place on Mars, where Dr. Manhattan revels in the absence of humanity. Even though he was human, he struggles to understand humans. He admits to himself that he’s tired of being caught up in the tangle of other people’s lives.

I think there are times when all of us can relate to that feeling. Complicated human interaction can put demands on us that can seem overwhelming. Man caves, for example, are all about escaping that tangle.

But after a period of time, we again seek out human contact; it’s in our natures. We are social animals who suffer ill effects after a prolonged absence from others. Several scientific studies have shown that extended isolation will degrade the human mind, and have negative effects on our physical health.

Having people in our lives is healthy for us. We should always remember to celebrate the company of others — even of those we may not always enjoy.

The End

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