Watchmen has always been a story that gave layered commentary on popular culture and politics, and the HBO series is no different. However, unlike the original graphic novel, the series created by Damon Lindelof dives deeper into America’s racial politics, including the touchy subject of reparations. Things got off to a big start when the series featured the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 in its premiere, setting the tone and setting for the show.
Within the series, the concept of “Redfordations,” (enacted by lifetime United States president Robert Redford) a slur referring to the so-called Victims of Racial Violence Act, has been a huge political topic. It had its first mention in the pilot episode in passing and is further detailed in the second episode. Whereas the act is providing reparations to those descendants of the racial violence (such as the Tulsa massacre) the reparations are seen by the ignorant as bailing out an undeserving lower class. This seems to be the catalyst for the racial divide in the country, why Redford is so divisive as a president and why the white nationalist group in the series sprung up.
On what exactly “Redfordations” are, Lindelof says, “It’s a lifetime tax exemption for victims of, and the direct descendants of designated areas of racial injustice throughout America’s history, the most important of which, as it relates to our show, is the Tulsa massacre of 1921.”
While it’s ingenious that Watchmen is bringing the conversation of reparations into viewers’ homes each week, what’s even more amazing is how the imagines could gain more political power. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who we know of as an esteemed cultural critic, scholar and Harvard professor, has now been given the title of United States Treasury Secretary in the series for the Redford Administration.
The role helps cement the imaginary world of Watchmen even more into our reality. The lines become blurred between what could be and what might occur.
In this vein, Watchmen provides small glimpses of hope and change amid a grim political and social landscape, both within the series and in real life.
Photo credit: HBO
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