Comic-Con 2009: Watchmen Director: "Technology Is Its Own Religion"

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | July 29, 2009 1:33 pm

watchmen-directors-cut-220.jpgWatchmen director Zack Snyder has a favorite added scene in the new Watchmen Director’s Cut. The blue-hued superhuman Dr. Manhattan has just taken his sporadic girlfriend Laurie Juspeczyk to Mars for a good heart-to-hyperconscious-heart. “We’re all puppets, Laurie,” he says. “I’m just a puppet who can see the strings.”

Is technology a panacea that can deliver man from his own idiocy or a neutral entity used for good or evil and locked the same physical laws as mere mortals? Such are the themes that Snyder tries to mine further in the re-edited version, which hit stores July 21 and includes 25 minutes of additional footage.

“The movie, at its core, is a technological-philosophical exercise,” Snyder tells SciNoFi. “When the graphic novel was originally written, it was influenced by the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese and how it created this modern moral dilemma with the idea that you could kill hundreds of thousands to save millions and whether that was OK or not.

“The specific theme—more in the director’s cut than the theatrical version—is that the technology creates a god-man, and, by proxy, that technology is its own religion,” says Snyder. Yet this god is not above the laws of the universe. “He’s saying free will is an illusion and that he also is a slave to his own way of thinking. ‘Just because I’m a god doesn’t mean I’m not also a slave to the same rules.’” These layered and often contradictory elements of technology—personified by Dr. Manhattan—resonate as much today as when Watchmen was first published two decades ago.

“I was really fascinated with Dr. Manhattan’s revelation that he had lost touch with the humanity of things,” says Snyder. “The idea of technology taking us away from our humanity—we see that every day with the Internet and social networking. You don’t talk to people fact-to-face; the voice at the other end is becoming more and more abstract. Eventually, we may reach a point where they write a program that just responds to questions in such a way that it seems like there’s someone with a heartbeat on the other end. Those are the questions we face as we get more entrenched in technology”

“I think science fiction is the gatekeeper of our dreams of what we can be and where we can go as a people,” he adds. “There is a spirituality in humanity that I hope influences the scientists of tomorrow. You can dig down and take it apart, but don’t forget the ‘why’ of it.”

—Special Comic-Con correspondent Susan Karlin

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conferences, Movies, Philosophy

Comments (4)

  1. What a load of crap by Zack Snyder! The internet and social networking take us away from our humanity? On the contrary! Those thing bring people closer together. People who before would never have been able to communicate in any way, now can. Technology doesn’t stand in opposition to humanity, technology is the most human thing there is. Flint knives, agriculture, space travel, these are the things that define what it is to be humanity.

    And what does religion have to do with anything? “Dr. Manhattan is an almost-god! Technology is a religion!” Mr. Snyder is indulging is quasi-philosophy, methinks. Soon he’ll wonder about quantum mechanics and it’s implications on the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    I’m starting to loathe Zack Snyder. It’s blatantly obvious he knows nothing of either philosophy, science or technology. Or humanity, for that matter. If he did he wouldn’t say that technology remove us from our humanity and is done out of “spirituality” – whatever that’s supposed to mean.

  2. This is a great article! Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking debate. Technology is what it is, another tool invented by man to improve our lives. The egos of some men causes them to believe they are gods, but they are only great in their own minds. Technology isn’t bad of itself, it become bad if it is used for bad causes.

    Check out my first and recently released novel, Long Journey to Rneadal. This exciting tale is a romantic action adventure in space and is more about the characters than the technology.

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