The Bricktosser

A place for me to rant, ramble and rave about all things comics related.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reflections on V for Vendetta

In anticipation of the upcoming movie, I recently re-read V for Vendetta. For those of you who haven't read it, I strongly recommend it. I also recommend you stop reading this if you don't like spoilers, because there are a few mild spoilers hence.

If you haven't read V and your still reading this, a little background. V fof Vendetta was one of the earlier works of Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen, Miracleman, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell. The story takes place in a post-WWIII Britain which has suffered indirectly from the nuking of Eastern Europe and Africa. It was written and drawn in the early-to-mid 80's, when you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a post-apocalypic sci-fi story. V was different, though. What set V apart from the Max Maxes and Judge Dredds was the political angle. Britain isn't a wasteland physically-- but in the wake of famine and financial collapse, it's been taken over by Fascism. That's Facism witht a capital F. V for Vendetta is the story of a mysterious agent (referred to only as V) who is bent on taking down the fascist regime.

And that's what I want to talk about. A story about fascism seems very timely right now, particularly for an American audience. The line repeated in the movie trailer-- "A People should not be afraid of their government-- governments should be afraid of their people" is something that got my attention all over again, but it a far different context when I first read it nearly twenty years ago. But despite the appropriateness to today's climate, upon rereading I was struck with how simplistic the politics of V for Vendetta really were. What was V's solution for Fascism? Anarchy. But that's what set the stage for Fascism to take over in V's world in the first place! Either Moore means this as a sort of ironic philosophical point (which I doubt, given the loving words V speaks about anarchy), or Moore simply doesn't know what to do once the bad guys have gotten torn down.

There's been a lot of criticism of the film in advance of its release, and a lot of that has centered on how they've apparently changed the politics of the film. I've been avoiding reading too much, but I am encouraged by this. Either V's finale hasn't aged well, I'm merely reacting differently at 39 than I did at 20, or both. In either case, V for Vendetta's triumph of Anarchy over The Man strikes me as juvenile now, and some changes are warranted and welcome.

If you haven't read the book-- do. It's great. Don't let my poo-pooing of some of the philosophy of the book stop you. If you read it long ago, read it again. It's got great characters, an intriguing story, and will make you think. If the movie captures even a part of what made this book so compelling, it will be awesome. I think it takes some serious stones to make a movie post 9/11 that features a terrorist as the protagonist. And I'm not too concerned that they may have changed some things for the movie, as long as the heart of it remains. Anarchy is not the heart of it. Revolution is.


Blogger bluecanary said...

I believe that works like V and the movie Delicatessen reflect a particularly European WWIII sensibility. For us on this side of the world, when we imagine the next world war, we think of total nuclear wasteland, a la The Day After. That's because we don't have direct experience with world war on our home turf -- we've seen the Hiroshima and Nagasaki pictures, and that's what we imagine happening to us. But in Europe, the war happened in their towns. So I think that when they imagine the next war, they invoke the bombed out buildings, famine and shortages that characterized WWII. In Delicatessen, this leads to cannibalism. In V, it leads to Fascism.

10:57 AM  

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