V For Vendetta

Imagine a culture of fear so complete that people abide a government that curfews them for their own good…

... a government for whom preserving liberty means enslaving its citizenry…

… a world where the most dangerous man is a free man…

… and only the mad can be trusted.

Imagine that this is the world you live in and the new dystopia V For Vendetta seems less like a collection of cool ideas and more like the morning news masquerading as fiction. 
Which isn’t to say what many leftists think (namely that the Bush family is leading us into fascism) has any bearing on truth, but to point out how prescience is linked with perspective.
The story of a government that manufactures fear and speaks in Orwellian doubletalk to confuse and intimidate its docile citizens isn’t just a history of the last eight years: It’s a comic book written in the mid-1990s. I remember when V was just a cool series written by comic book genius Allan Moore. Back then, during the high liberal days of the Clinton administration, it just seemed like a bunch of cool ideas.
The film adaptation of V is visually stunning and well-paced, though it is a big idea film, which means characters get second billing to concepts. This is usually the case with high-concept films that are discursive rather than narrative, but V ploughs through this problem by running a gauntlet of ideas and tossing up smoke bombs when logic fails.
After all, who can take a character seriously when he wears a Guy Fawkes mask, quotes Shakespeare and practices fencing by watching old movies? V isn’t even as well developed as Batman or Frank Miller’s Daredevil and his romantic interests seem contrived and overly verbal – one of Moore’s shortcomings.
The idea that a political figurehead could take on epic power through media coercion seemed unsophisticated when Bill Clinton couldn’t get away with a bj without an army of whistleblowers coming forward. The Clinton administration couldn’t even convince the American people that a cult of gun-totting, religious radicals needed to be shut down.
The 1990s seem a long time ago these days and it’s difficult to remember when my generation couldn’t fathom the sort of abuse of power that created the Red Scare and the Nazi movement in the 1930s and 40s. Now I suspect that the secret Bush Gestapo would use V as fire starter to get the Constitution going if they could finally shut up those silly liberals at the ACLU.
This era is fertile ground for delusion, well intended or not. There will be those who claim V is a blueprint for the next revolution, but they’re mostly the same crackpots who think that Firefly was a libertarian treatise or see every drug episode of the Simpson’s as secret code.  Still, I suggest that seeing V as an outraged, defeated, paranoid lefty has many advantages.
If you are so predisposed, the science fiction about a tyrannical government’s manufacture of fear will seem so urgent that you’ll double check your mirror when you get back to your car. Every black sedan will contain a threat, you will temporarily boycott Fox as big-brother TV, and you will find exciting new opportunities to say things like, “People should not fear their government; governments should fear their people.”     
And you will seem both cool and patriotic because these sentiments just so happen to be true, no matter what side you find yourself on.


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