Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, remember...

Before it was a movie that utterly watered down the premise and execution, V for Vendetta was the comic that every mildly disaffected teenager should read.  And then read again every five years, like any book that affects you in your youth.

Its funny what age, experience and the insight derived from both bring to a text you think you know.

I've mixed feelings regarding the fact that both Anonymous and emo teens have adopted the face of Guy Fawkes, a figure who's politics are so of his time and personal issues, that I've never been able to get my head around the morality of his gameplan.  But, really, my trip to England finally got my head around some of how the non-democratized world worked in ye-olde-era in which nations' fates hung upon big-stakes games of "get rich or die tryin'", and how quickly one could end up dead in crowned countries right up til fairly recent history.

Its a far leap from The Gunpowder Plot to the Occupy Wallstreet movement, and I suspect that its the anarchic principles outlined in V the comic and movie that inspire the mask.

I watch Anonymous with a sort of detached interest.  How does one condone vigilantism, be it on the internet or elsewhere?  How does one not smile a bit when you see masked Trickster agents befuddling folks who believe they've got it all under control (and profit from keeping it that way)?  But cringe when you see that same merry approach to chaos used without wisdom or restraint?

But, hell, I heard this week they might be targeting M13?  That would be remarkable.

Between you and me, I do not want either governments or corporations who do not tremble a little at the thought of what the unwashed masses can do.

There's an argument to be made about Mystery Men, here, as well, of wondering about the morality of a Superman or Batman who can disappear into the shadows by putting on glasses or pulling off a cowl.  And its interesting to see the masks appear at rallies, online, on posters...  If you don't know who we are...?  you've given us a playing field in which we know more than you do, and we know how to make it hurt...

And maybe that's what I find fascinating about this return to a 1938 Superman, brash and dangerous, as likely to make mistakes as a drunken bull perusing a china shop.  Its amusing how some readers find this idea unsettling, and I think that's the energy the character likely exuded back in the day, that captured the imagination of street kids with clear moral compasses, but the lack of experience or knowledge to understand how complicated the world can become, or understand the concept of compromise.

So, let us all remember, remember...

It was surely about justice in the mind of Mr. Fawkes.  Or at least a moral obligation to the church and/ or crown.  But there's always a fine line between anarchic justice and terrorism, isn't there?  You don't see me striking back against those with whom I disagree with cyber-attacks or by burning down their office cubes.

Its not the way I prefer to engage with those with whom I disagree.  But it doesn't mean you can't enjoy seeing someone get tweaked now and again.


Fantomenos said...

Pretty good post-blogicide post!

I think the graphic novel is nicely ambiguous about the masked vigilante versus neo-fascist government issue.

Not that Moore wants anyone to side with the government, but he certainly doesn't present V as especially sympathetic, whereas the movie was not as nuanced.

But I think this is a good example of a book that is worth revisiting as we age, since the 17 year-old me was unabashedly pro blowing $#|+ up, and the book reads fine from that perspective.

The League said...

Yeah, 17-year-old me certainly has different opinions regarding the morality of V and his actions than 36-year-old me. But in many ways, you can get more to the core of exactly how desperate one would have to be, and that's where I think the movie failed. It never demonstrated desperation.

As I get older, of course I have less tolerance for the superhero mentality of "settle your moral dispute with fists or laser-beams". Its got its place, but I think its surprising to me, however many years after V and Watchmen that we don't see a more nuanced approach to 95% of what's out there.