Activists around the world in the Occupy, Anonymous movements as well as those protesting against proposed copyright laws like ACTA, SOPA and PIPA have taken to wearing smirking Guy Fawkes masks inspired by Alan Moore’s anti-fascist graphic novel which was adapted into a Warner Bros movie V for Vendetta in 2006 starring Hugo Weaving.
Considering how subversive it is, it’s interesting to note that V for Vendetta was financed by the giant Warner Bros movie studio.
Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (Hugo Weaving) known only as “V.”
Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.
SMH movie reviewer Paul Byrnes presciently predicted in 2006 that V for Vendetta would “embolden people in the age of facial recognition technology – with masks. If Guy Fawkes masks do not turn up in the next round of anti-globalisation demonstrations, I’ll be very surprised”.
Garth Franklin, film reviewer for Dark Horizons remarked that
“Vendetta’ is such a scary film in many ways. It doesn’t resemble society as it is now, it is rather society the way it could be 10-15 years from now if we continue heading down a path we’ve been on the last few years – a path in which a very minor issue such as terrorism has been used to justify some heinous bungles and civil right violations by people on both sides of the political spectrum”.
V for Vendetta creator Alan Moore wrote for the BBC about how his masked character has inspired so many.
Moore reflected that :
“It would seem that the various tectonic collapses deep in the structure of our economic and political systems have triggered waves of kinetic energy which are rolling through human populations rather than through their usual medium of seawater. It also seems that our character’s charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid’s Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement”.
I just wrote for Technology Spectator about protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) taking place across Europe during the last week, culminating in over 100 coordinated events during the weekend. Protestors hope to convince members of the European Parliament that they shouldn’t ratify ACTA.
Reuters reported that:
“ACTA aims to cut trademark theft and tackle other online piracy. But the accord has sparked concerns, especially in Eastern European countries as well as in Germany which is sensitive about its history with the Gestapo and Stasi secret police, over online censorship and increased surveillance”.
In a bold move several members of the Polish and Bulgarian Parliaments recently made their feelings about the ACTA treaty clear by wearing Guy Fawkes masks and agreeing to be photographed by the media.