Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Has V FOR VENDETTA Finally Become the Modern Anti-Authority Symbol?
Well, it's been a big month for V for Vendetta, hasn't it?
As if various members of the Guy Fawkes-masked group Anonymous making Pro-WikiLeaks retaliatory online attacks against Visa and MasterCard wasn't enough, along comes Clay Duke, a Panama City, Florida man who took six members of the city's school board hostage yesterday before ultimately killing himself.
During the hostage standoff, Duke claimed that he was taking revenge for the board firing his wife because doing so left them broke and at one point, he spraypainted a large red "V" symbol from V for Vendetta on one of the walls. He apparently had some time on his hands before taking hostages, posting several anti-rich messages on his Facebook account along with several V for Vendetta images and quotes likening himself to the central anti-totalitarian character, V.
I'm guessing DC Comics and Warner Brothers films must be just thrilled about the resulting publicity.
Still, something like this isn't all that unexpected, is it? Ever since the Wachowski Brothers' 2006 film adaptation starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, Alan Moore and David Lloyd's 1980s story of V for Vendetta has slowly been working its way into mainstream awareness. The film only pulled in a modest $132 million worldwide, but has become a well-regarded cult classic in recent years and is currently listed at #175 on IMDb's Top 250 all-time favorite movies. And with more general awareness comes more chances for some mastermind such as Duke to pervert it to suit his own deranged notion of fighting a personal crusade against what he sees as an oppressive system.
Anonymous certainly seems to have embraced V for Vendetta symbolism ever since 2008 when they began Project Chanology, involving public protests in V masks that resemble English historical figure Guy Fawkes against the Church of Scientology. Later activities by the group include supporting demonstrations against the Iranian government, fighting against internet censorship in Australia, fighting against various opponents of a free internet and most recently, fighting against corporations dropping their support of news media site WikiLeaks. The basic revolutionary concepts outlined in V for Vendetta certainly seem to complement the group well enough and the images of masked protestors obviously make good fodder for media organizations. Hell, even creator Alan Moore seems to approve of the adopted imagery, as evidenced in this quote from an interview in Entertainment Weekly:
"I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta [Guy Fawkes] masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."
As mentioned in V for Vendetta, symbols are given power by people. How much power people give this particular symbol remains to be seen.