V for Vendetta (idea)
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|I don't mean to flame or to rain on anybody's parade here, but I do feel that I need to highlight this particular monarch's especially transparent couture.
My girlfriend and I agreed that this is one of the worst films that we've seen recently -- at least since the equally soulless and technically adroit Sin City. She's a future PhD candidate in film: her take is that the Wachowski Brothers have been searching unsuccessfully for a story of great philosophical depth to compliment their obvious technical skill since The Matrix. Friends of ours have told us, predictably, to "lighten up!" and that "it's just a movie!", but, like The Matrix -- a much better film on most levels -- there doesn't seem to be very much winking or nodding in this film and the actual message that it does deliver is somewhat troubling, to say the least.
I'm a future public policy wonk and thus spent most of the film troubled by one difficult fact: the real problem with fascism isn't the campy fashion, the steely aesthetic or the bad facial hair. It's not even necessarily the arbitrariness of the myriad rules that it coldly enforces. No, these are all byproducts of a deeper problem -- a governing philosophy rooted in a propaganda-fueled nihilism.
Now, V for Vendetta would, on the surface, seem to be a very anti-fascist movie. I mean, the main character fights against British Hitler clones, right? But stop for a second. The fascist ethos that it wants so badly to renounce is for all intent and purposes almost exactly identical to the political beliefs promoted by the protagonist of this film. Ask yourself: what good does it do to resolve events the way that he does? What positive values does he actually stand for? Why Guy Fawkes? The answer to all of these questions is more unsettling than you might think.
I say all of this as a huge fan of the obviously brilliant Alan Moore1 and although I freely admit that I haven't read V for Vendetta in graphic novel form, I understand that there, at least, Moore had the good sense to present the character of V as something other than an uncomplicated, generally untroubled romantic lead. Part of what makes Moore so engaging as a writer is that he's not out to deliver simple messages; by contrast, the Wachowski Brothers want their movies both to say something profound-yet-straightforward and, more importantly, to kick ass while they do it.
In short, it seems the Brothers W. sought out to read V for Vendetta as a simple Orwellian mirror held to the present day. Now I don't like Bush either and I certainly won't begrudge them many the parallels that they find with America in 2006. But it is possible to get so caught up with the detail-work of the trees and your desire to say anything of depth that you manage to miss the big, facist forest that underpins your entire two hour narrative. But hey, at least there are lots of explosions.
1. especially Watchmen, which is obviously a masterpiece. Among other things, what Moore does with the letter 'V' in that book is truly unbelievable.
EDIT: A lot of people are asking me for further clarification on this node. I'm happy to provide that, especially on the connection between fascism and nihilism, but in the meantime, I feel that this review (aside from its apparent dislike of Moore) makes the near-perfect case against:
Key quote: "there’s no getting around the fact that this allegedly antifascist work lusts after fire and death."
EDIT (2): On second review, most of what irexe says in the fascism node applies to many of the questions about this entry:
Fascism, the word itself derived from the Italian anti-communist combat groups used by Benito Mussolini to oppress the Italian people, literally implies only the practice of violently forcing one's opinion onto others, and the belief that such a practice is justified. The association and confusion with totalitarianism is a common one, but in essence they are not the same at all. Fascism is not a form of government, it is a philosophy that has been adopted by some totalitarian governments. Fascism can be a philosophy adopted by one single individual as well (emphasis mine).It takes a certain kind of moral nihilism and rejection of anothers' rights to force your will onto them just because you can. That's what the British government does in V for Vendetta. It's also what its protagonist does, with popular support or no.