Why is Rorschach so likeable?

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Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Ubersmush » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:26 am UTC

Rorschach from watchmen is one of my favourite fictional characters. When I read watchmen for the first time it gave me chills every time he was in a scene (particularly where he kills the rapist - that bit stuck with me). But the character is in essence a reflection of everything that's wrong with the world. He's a fascist bullying sexist misanthrope. If he was a real person I'd be all for locking him up away from me!

So why is he one of the coolest comic book characters without a doubt?

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

He's...not. Like, at all. He's a psychopath with a black and white morality.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Enderb » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:19 pm UTC

Because he embodies the tough-man guise. He's a loner, he is confident and certain of himself, he's violent, remorseless, and he wears a fedora. A FEDORA!!!

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:27 pm UTC

Just because he isn't likeable doesn't mean you can't like him.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby fersrs » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:02 am UTC

At first I absolutely despised Rorschach, but by the end I was rooting for him. He first seemed, to me, like a total psychopath but then when his intentions and past deeds became clear (like killing the rapist) I started to like him a lot more. Especially at the end when
Spoiler:
he tries to tell people what Veidt did even though he knew it would get himself killed. That just seemed like the embodiment of the other side of the logic puzzle, the emotional side as opposed to the logical side.
Also the fedora.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Jesse » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:08 am UTC

Because he can fly.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:02 am UTC

Because he takes ordinary, even admirable traits and then twists them.

Moral rigidity and justice, to be exact. We all appreciate someone willing to stick to their moral guns when they know they're right, regardless of the adversity. Picard gets like this sometimes. The thing is, Rorschach has morals different than most of us--in some ways. So yes, he fights crime and evil wherever he finds it, yes he refuses to accept the killing of innocents--but he has no problems breaking fingers or killing brutally when he feels the need. So he's a paragon of virtuousness...for certain values of "virtue."

Plus, he's legitimately badass in some ways. Like how you walk out of the theater after The Dark Knight and find yourself loving the Joker, just because he's so enjoyable to watch. Rorschach

Spoiler:
Fights off SWAT teams with hairspray, speaks in a style so matter-of-fact it's often hilarious, and manages to instill fear in...well...pretty much everyone he meets.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Palomides » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:02 am UTC

Rorschach is, to me, complete awesome. The reasons, as follows:

1. He is the only character in the book who doesn't waver in his beliefs at all.
2. He is willing to do anything for these beliefs.
3. He wears a pretty cool trench-coat style jacket.

What else needs to be said?
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:11 am UTC

Rorschach - One of two really, really wrong guys.

Yeah, I wouldn't say he was likeable. Nite Owl II.. there was a likeable cat.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:22 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Rorschach - One of two really, really wrong guys.

Yeah, I wouldn't say he was likeable. Nite Owl II.. there was a likeable cat.


Nite Owl I seemed alright as well. Silk Specter was ok. Were any of the other "costumed heroes" remotely well adjusted?

Spoiler:
Ozymandias did his Ozymandias stuff--Yeah, it may have saved the world, the fact remains that he looked at the world and though "Hey, how can I use my ridiculous intellect to help this situation?" and came up with "Murder millions of people and tramautize millions more."

Dr. Manhattan is just so relentlessly amoral. I feel odd putting him in here--it's odd to judge him on these scales, as he is presented pretty much as a cosmic being. Still, not exactly in good shape.

The Comedian goes to Vietnam, gets a girl pregnant, tells her he doesn't care about her at all and has no intentions to even bother supporting the baby or mother, and then shoots her. Not to mention various other things.


I guess some of the vaguely mentioned ones--Captain Metropolis, Hooded Justice, whoever else--may have been ok. But there's more than two seriously warped characters in Watchmen.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby d33p » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:24 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Because he takes ordinary, even admirable traits and then twists them.

Moral rigidity and justice, to be exact. We all appreciate someone willing to stick to their moral guns when they know they're right, regardless of the adversity. Picard gets like this sometimes.

Did... did you just compare Rorschach to Picard? I'm not sure if that's fantastic, or utterly fantastic.

"Likeable" isn't the adjective I'd stick to Rorschach. "Admirable", perhaps - but in the same way I can admire or have respect for singleminded sons-of-bitches, simply because steadfastness and perseverance are normally virtuous traits. From an Aristotelian standpoint, Rorschach is pure evil, representing a violent extreme. From a utilitarian perspective, he's getting the job done by any means necessary, and is therefore a good.

I think the degree to which you "like" Rorschach says exactly as much about your personal philosophy as his creator(s) intended.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:31 am UTC

Hah, well, in the sense that you can compare LG and LN/E characters, yes I did.

But I'm serious. I saw an episode--("Conundrum" I think?)--where the Enterprise has their memories wiped and are given false computer records to entice them to go help a particular alien race win a war, both combatants being a century behind in weapons tech compared to the Federation. And Picard's big deal in that episode was his unease at firing on such obviously inferior foes--until in the end, when it came to actually shooting space station with a few thousand people on it, he refused--orders to the contrary. It's all about the rigid moral principles.

Although, there was that one episode where Wesley was going to be killed for stepping on the grass and Picard gave a speech about the rigidity of law--"There can be no justice when law is absolute!" I think--so the comparison only goes so far.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Lemminkainen » Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:15 am UTC

I don't think that Rorschach is supposed to be good. It's his twisted qualities-- his warped worldview, his over-matter-of-fact, clipped speech, and his tendency toward extreme, awful violence that make him entertaining to pay attention to.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby gibberishtwist » Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:54 pm UTC

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:56 pm UTC

Hm.. I don't recall that. Metropolis was the one trying to get them to join together, while HJ was the guy who got off on beating up other guys.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Lemminkainen » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:23 am UTC

Both HJ and Captain Metropolis had somewhat far-right reputations, but Metropolis was the one who voiced support for Hitler.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby steewi » Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:36 am UTC

Despite him being a misogynist amoral bastard, I find The Comedian to be one of my favourite characters. It's irritating. I think I'm just attracted to him.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby gibberishtwist » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:27 pm UTC

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby mosc » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:29 pm UTC

Why is Rorschach so likeable? Because he was well written. He was purposely envisioned as a very entrenched character. The choice of a black and white mask for example seems to reflect his ethos. The man has no grey, no balance.

d33p called him utilitarian. I don't think that's true at all. If anything, he shows how absolute right and wrong is inherently non-utilitarian. In his death/last actions, he makes the world a worse place from a utilitarian perspective. However he holds true to his incredibly polarized sense of right and wrong.

He's a loner because nobody else could really embrace that level of extreme. He rejects personal hygiene and basically all societal considerations instead holding to his ideal. I think it is this character study of taking "good" things so far they become "bad" is what makes him an interesting character.

And he's so likeable because he's a well written interesting character.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

For realz, yo. Give Alan Moore a character. Any character. Any character at all. And it'll be good.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby smw543 » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:49 am UTC

Lemminkainen wrote:Both HJ and Captain Metropolis had somewhat far-right reputations, but Metropolis was the one who voiced support for Hitler.
HJ was also rumored to be a Nazi sympathizer.
---------------------
I think the reader is supposed to like (or at least - and perhaps more accurately - sympathize with) Rorschach. He's the first character we meet, and although there isn't a single main character, I'd say his role is the most crucial to many of the themes, and he's certainly the most compelling.

More importantly, he's the embodiment of an unspoken desire many comic book fans have, a hero who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. It gets annoying how the good guys can never kill people because "it's wrong," even if there's a damn good reason to do so (I'm lookin' at you, Spidey.) There isn't much of a cathartic element in seeing that the bad guy is put in jail, especially considering he always gets out within a few months. While it's stupid how the bad guy always holds the good guy prisoner instead of killing him, it's downright frustrating that no one ever just kills The Kingpin, dammit.

Also: what mosc said.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby axilog14 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:47 pm UTC

I'd peg it to the strong personality and the cool coat and hat.

(I'm a sucker for cool coats and hats :P )
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Clumpy » Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:23 am UTC

Rorschach's design is so eyepleasing and dynamic that in a fairly static comic he's one of the few things that really catches my eye. Note that while his personality is similar (though more subdued) without the costume, he isn't nearly as compelling. (In the movie I thought he was great throughout.)

The character isn't squeamish but is sensitive from time to time, honest and straightforward enough to be believable both when he thanks Dan Dreiberg for his friendship and refuses to compromise with wrongdoers. Then again, he's also a fairly loopy identity-confused psychopathic misanthrope with daddy issues. Talk about character range!

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Jackpot » Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:19 am UTC

hypnotic mask.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby tsevenhuysen » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:50 am UTC

I like Rorschach because he doesn't compromise. In the end, he's the only person who sees what Veidt did and can't allow himself to let it go. There are a ton of reasons to hate him--he's a true vigilante, brutally murdering criminals without a second thought--but even though he's seemingly brutal and psychopathic, he's the only one who really sees things clearly.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:21 pm UTC

The funny thing is, I think Rorschach is the most hopeful out of all the characters. One of the quotes that striked me while reading was, while walking to Blake's gravestone is, when wondering if what he does matters while the possibility of nuclear war hangs over them, he writes in his journal, "never despair--not while there's still life."

And there's also his origin gives him a lot of sympathy. If your mother frequently abused you, would you have much of high respect for women? If you hear about a woman like Kitty Genovise being murdered while everyone watched, would you have a high opinion of people? If you found that a man killed a little girl and fed her corpse to rabid dogs, would you have kept it together so easily and not killed him? Really, for him to believe there's any good in the world is a bit of an achievement.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby mosc » Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:22 pm UTC

Eh, I think he's dehumanized everyone. It's a simple matter of logic to him. In some ways, he's more removed from humanity than John. Rorschach is very cold and calculated. He could easily be a villain except that his ethos is one of right and wrong.

To me, he's the whole point of the story: Show an example of when doing the right thing is the opposite of the utilitarian thing. Have the most psychotically driven, completely incapable of compromise, do-gooder of all time and then have him knowingly doom the world.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Warpath » Wed May 27, 2009 8:28 pm UTC

Because Rorschach was a BEAST.

To put it simply.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby thicknavyrain » Wed May 27, 2009 8:54 pm UTC

Rorschach is damn cool, I mean *overused compliment alert* the fedora is gosh darned cunting awesome. As is the whole get up, the thinking on his feet, the strong sense of justice and the badarse loner thing. In spite of that, I quite liked Adrian and Nite Owl II. Adrian, while being really morally ambiguous and perhaps too lateral, was solid, he worked hard to get what he had, he treated things as problems without getting too emotionally drawn in and ultimately thought his skills should be used to help others (the extent to which he does this is debatable, I'm just saying). Nite Owl...well, nerd sympathisation. Heh.

Still, Rorscach, in his hate of Liberals and being so old fashioned and backwards at times was really unlikable in many aspects, but in my mind his good outweighs his bad.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:00 am UTC

thicknavyrain wrote:Still, Rorscach, in his hate of Liberals and being so old fashioned and backwards at times was really unlikable in many aspects, but in my mind his good outweighs his bad.


I think it makes things far more interesting. A hero who is a nearly complete one-to-one complement of your own personality and ideals is pretty boring.

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Belial » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:25 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:I think the reader is supposed to like (or at least - and perhaps more accurately - sympathize with) Rorschach.


If that's a speculation at authorial intent, then for the record, Alan Moore has basically stated that he's bewildered and horrified by the number of people who think Rorschach is a great guy and love him to death. To the point where he kindof regrets ever creating the character.

Not that that matters a lot.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Clumpy » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:20 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Not that that matters a lot.


Because, frankly, I have to ignore about 20% of what Alan Moore says and does to tolerate him too!

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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Sadistic Humor » Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:27 pm UTC

A commercial on AMC summed it up nicely:

You don't need to like the hero, you just need to understand him.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby smw543 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

Belial wrote:If that's a speculation at authorial intent, then for the record, Alan Moore has basically stated that he's bewildered and horrified by the number of people who think Rorschach is a great guy and love him to death.
As am I; when I say "like," I mean as a character, not as a person. He's interesting, and I certainly wouldn't turn down a chance to ask him a few questions (if he were real), but I wouldn't want to hang out with the guy.

In retrospect, "like" isn't the right word for what I was trying to say; my meaning got mangled when I tried to shoehorn my point into the context of this thread.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby tweetics » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:56 pm UTC

He is our POV character, and what better type of character to have for that than one that is really not too complex to understand. I mean, we don't have to understand his grey areas, because he has none. He is this guy that sees what is right and what is wrong and he is the voice of our outrage. He vocalizes a simplistic morality that we wish existed, but know doesn't.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby natraj » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:04 pm UTC

tweetics wrote:He vocalizes a simplistic morality that we wish existed, but know doesn't.


Er, what? Maybe you wish it existed. I am pretty happy that most of the world does not have his viewpoint on things.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Belial » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:26 pm UTC

Yeah, especially given his feelings on liberals, women, and minorities. Rorschach would likely cave my skull in.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby tweetics » Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:17 pm UTC

natraj wrote:
tweetics wrote:He vocalizes a simplistic morality that we wish existed, but know doesn't.


Er, what? Maybe you wish it existed. I am pretty happy that most of the world does not have his viewpoint on things.


no, not particularly. It is more of a "look at the simple guidelines, black and white...right and wrong", it is unrealistic as all get out but I think that there is a certain appeal to it (or I could be way off base). However, I believe Moore even viewed Rorschach's moral absolutism as absurd. Obviously, that sort of mentality has no place in the real world (and I don't care to have my skull crushed either), but it makes for an interesting starting point.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Basically, wouldn't it be great if the world was simple? Evil was evil. It could always be recognized and always be justly punished. Good was good. It would be rewarded and we could always tell what we should do in a situation. It would be the good path. Things would be easy.

Rorschach believes that the world is--or at least could be--like that, rather than admit the moral complexities that actually exist. I think that's what tweetics is getting at.
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Re: Why is Rorschach so likeable?

Postby Plasma Man » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:59 pm UTC

I agree with that. Having to deal with shades of grey is less comfortable than the clear, distinct, black-and-white view Rorschach has. The appeal of Rorschach is that he never has to agonise over what is right and what is wrong - he always knows.

What's interesting to me is how my reading of Watchmen has changed with time. I first read it as a teenager, where the idealism of Rorschach resonated with me. Now I'm older and less idealistic, more accepting and willing to compromise, I feel more in tune with Dan Dreiberg. He seems one of the more "normal" characters, more like someone who trys to do what's best in each situation, rather than having a completely rigid set of ideas about what is right and what is wrong.
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