v for vendetta

Today was a social day. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner plans with different people, and, somewhere in-between, I was able to get out and see “V for Vendetta.” I had a few problems with the logic of the plot, and I’ve read that the fellow who wrote the comic on which it’s based is pissed that the film-makers weren’t loyal to the original, but, even so, I found it to quite good. Sure, it’s a bit heavy-handed, and, yes, it may push the present-day analogies uncomfortably far, but perhaps that’s what it takes to break through and reach people these days. And, isn’t that, after all, the role of art in society? (Roger Ebert’s review of the film, which includes a pretty good plot synopsis, can be found here.)

Clearly the Wachowski brothers, in presenting this horrible image of a future Britain under the rule of a fear-mongering fascist administration, want to force people to look at what’s going on around them right now in America. I don’t think it’s possible to watch the film and come away from it without making the connection. They’re relentless in driving home the point. (In the film, amid the child-molesting conservative religious leaders and the Bill O’Reilly-like partisan attack journalists, there’s even a character who, like Donald Rumsfelt, gets rich thanks to an investment in a pharmaceutical company with the cure for a mysterious Bird Flu-like virus.)

I don’t want to give too much away, but I think that most people by now know that the plot revolves around a masked revolutionary who somewhat single-handedly brings down an evil ruling government by rallying citizens to his cause. As I was watching it, I was reminded of the Eminem video for the song “Mosh,” in which a rapper speaking truth to power is able to galvanize a revolutionary movement behind him and storm the White House. “V for Vendetta” concludes in much the same way, with masses of regular men and women, dressed in black, rising up and demanding regime change at the Houses of Parliament.

It’s a scenario that many of us have dreamed about, the moment when regular, ordinary men and women take to the streets of Washington, DC, yelling that they’re “mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore.” I commend the Wachowskis for taking a shot at it. Will it lead to ordinary Americans having the courage to stand up and demand change — probably not. But maybe it will get people talking about where the line is between what we as a nation will and won’t tolerate, regardless of the threat level. Maybe it will get more people to consider just what it is that we’re willing to give away for the illusion of security. (I’m reminded here of a speech given by Al Gore not too long ago in which he mentioned that, regardless of how it might seem to us today, this is not the most dire situation that our country has ever been in, and this isn’t the time for us to willingly hand over the freedoms that are rightfully ours, freedoms that were so jealously guarded by our forefathers, even in times of war.)

It was a challenging task, and the Wachowski’s deserve credit for attempting it. To try to sell a cop-killing, building-blasting terrorist as a protagonist in today’s climate isn’t that easy of a thing to accomplish. They were able to pull it off though. Of course, in order to do it, they had to make the other side, the people that our anti-hero confronts, much, much worse. (They accomplished this in part by showing those in power to be the murderers and rapists of children.) And that’s got some fans of the current administration pissed off.

Yeah, it’s unfair to be lumped in with baby-killers and rapists. But lots of shit’s unfair.

And, lastly, I wanted to leave you with this quote from V.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Oh, and one last thing. It might not really fit in here, and maybe it deserves a post of its own, but I just wanted to add that Natalie Portman is really cute.

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5 Comments

  1. MarkDilley
    Posted March 27, 2006 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Thought this may be of interest to you. A for Anarchy

  2. msiono
    Posted March 27, 2006 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    On N. Portman’s cuteness: I agree that she is adorable, but even she couldn’t pull off that hideous blouse she was in the first part of the movie! Stripes and puffy sleves?

    On V himself: I commend him for having the foresight to know that calling himself V would be way more effective than Five, but I thought it was funny as hell to see that is really what the V was, his cell number! Kind of like the MI lore of Novi…

    I was reminded once again of just how much I absolutely loved The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas when I read it for the 1st time in 8th grade. Great read.

  3. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted March 27, 2006 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I prefer “A is for Angioplasty.”

  4. mark
    Posted March 27, 2006 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a huge fan of anarchy… No one out there will probably remember this, but I used to sing a song called “Anarchy is Stupid” in my old band, Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink. If I had it on my computer, I’d link to it so that you could hear it… Actually, I’ve got a video of us performing it around here somewhere. I’d have to convert it over somehow, but I think it would be worth it. It’s a pretty good song as I recall. (OK, I’m adding that to my list of things to do before I die.)

    I’m not sure what the original author had in mind, but from my perspective the story works better with him (V) fighting for fair, honest and responsible government. (The “A for Anarchy” site, at least if I read it correctly, is suggesting that in the original story V was against all forms of government and was fighting in order to bring about a state of Anarchy.) Maybe I’d feel differently if I thought that Anarchy wasn’t stupid.

  5. murph
    Posted March 28, 2006 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m told Alan Moore (the graphic novel author) was quite the anarchist. The difference, as I was explained it, is that Alan Moore’s version has V tearing down the government so that the people can figure out how to manage themselves without the government, while the Wachowskis’ version has V tearing down the government so that the people can figure out how to set up a new government. I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t say how V’s nudges on the body public would set them in one direction or the other, though.

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