Saturday, April 20, 2013

V for Vendetta: Rebellion in the Shadows

Few movies instill more rebellious spirit into viewers than V for Vendetta. A film that opens with a reference to Guy Fawkes, a 16th century revolutionary, the movie is focused around issues of extreme governmental control and the amount of power that citizens should have within a society. The movie focuses on a character, V, that has dedicated his life towards overthrowing an oppressive government and bringing wrongdoings of Britain’s leaders to light.
                Of course, the movie has other draws like good-looking actresses and stunning action scenes, but the true interest of the movie comes from its ability make its viewers question their role and their government’s role in the society which they live in. Is there a point at which government should be limited, even it is doing good for a large amount of people? What if this good comes at the expense of a small minority group?
                Clearly, these are issues that have been brought to light in our society today. With a government (and a people) largely concerned with terrorism, recent years have tested the point at which we are willing to bend the laws around which our country is based in an effort to protect ourselves. Surely, keeping one’s safety in mind is reasonable and justifiable, and in times of crisis many feel that there is little else that is important. However, in crisis situations many people tend to think irrationally, jump to conclusions, and allow our governing bodies to take action without consulting the rules, regulations and principles that our society has been built around. The question of “the ends justifying the means” comes to mind, and it’s a question that will likely never be answered.
                In V for Vendatta, V, the main character, was the victim of illegal genetic testing by the government in an effort to further their knowledge about the human body’s ability to survive epidemics. While V did survive his time in this prison, he was forever scarred and vowed to bring justice to a government that would allow such injustices to occur behind closed doors. Throughout the movie, he gathers the support of a population that is growing more and more dissatisfied with the amount of control the government has over them, and he takes advantage of a growing animosity towards power that he eventually funnels into a mass rebellion.
                Throughout human history, rebellions have seemed to occur without question when a governing body gains too much power, perhaps a natural safeguard against a perpetually totalitarian society. However, the extent to which a people must suffer is largely flexible, and often times a revolutionary figure is necessary to ignite the people under such a regime into action. V is this character, and does so anonymously, constantly wearing a mask and becoming a phantom of sorts in the mind of his followers.
                This type of anonymous rebellion was scarcely possible through most of history, as communication between groups of people was largely done in person and an anonymous figure would have difficulties reaching and inspiring the masses. However, in our current age of instant communication and technology, rebellions that are started without the leaders  and members being directly known (and rebellions that remain without the leaders and members widely known) can occur. Just like V uses masks to cover the identity of his followers and allow people to protect their personal identities while following the cause they believe in, people in today’s era are able to mask their identity over the internet and contribute to a protest anonymously. As many rebellions are curbed or never begin in the first place due to members being scared of damaging their reputation or endangering themselves or their families, this method of anonymous rebellion allows people to voice their true feelings and not feel frightened that they might be in jeopardizing their future. Expect rebellions of this sort to be occurring around the world in the near future as the common person gains more access to organizational powers and the mask of the internet.
                While V for Vendetta does eventually succeed, many people are injured in the process, and he puts a large group of people in danger. Just as he is protesting the “ends justifies the means” mentality of the government, is he not being somewhat hypocritical in his methods of protest? His tactics of explosives and other weaponry might be useful and incite public action, but he nonetheless hurting possibly innocent people and in turn exacerbating the problem he set out to fix. Rebellion, like many other social issues, is a double-edged problem, and not one that can be solved in a simple manner.


  1. I think this is a really pertinent topic right now for obvious reasons and you bring up some good points. You note that recently, American government has increasingly tested how far we will bend the laws that this country was founded on in an effort to protect ourselves. New York State Senator stated his views on torture in regards to its potential use on the second Boston Bomber, tweeting "So,scumbag #2 is in custody. Who wouldn't use torture on this punk to save more lives?" The passion behind radical ideas like this grow exponentially in response to tragedies and/or personal connections. However, it is in these instances when we are simultaneously tested deeply and given an opportunity to display what you believe in and stand for.

    It's interesting to think about your point regarding communication with the masses. Last semester in a Social Movements class I investigated the Legalization movement and many people hypothesized the same as you. Just as it was crucial for both V and his followers to protect their identity, so is it with such a taboo topic.
    Finally, your point about V's hypocrisy regarding his simultaneous critique and implementation of the "ends justify the means" mentality is spot-on. This was my biggest critique of V for Vendetta. Ideologically on paper V seemed like the perfect leader, yet when analyzed it seems like he would probably be critiqued by his twin self.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.