V For Manipulation

Tell me what you think of a movie plot that goes like this [note: if you plan to see V For Vendetta, I’m going to give away some things in this post]: Set in “Great Britain” (wink, wink), around the year 2020, only one person has enough guts to fight back against totalitarianism. This person is an idealistic hero who wears a Guy Fawkes mask, and is very successful at avenging the wrong that has been done to him and to his country. The totalitarian government is completely fascist and corrupt (perhaps that’s redundant) and run by “Christians” whose cross-bearing banners are emblazoned with the motto “Strength through Unity, Unity through Faith”; the High Chancellor bears a “striking” resemblance in rhetoric and symbolism to Adolf Hitler. (His chief henchman bears a “striking” resemblance to Karl Rove. One refrain in the movie is that there are no coincidences.) Anyway, the oppressed people are homosexuals, those who have copies of the Koran, and those who “dare” to speak against the government–and everyone else is complicit because they didn’t speak up when the government began to take their rights away. In the nick of time, the hero appears and blows up Parliament–well, actually, Natalie Portman pulls the lever, because Guy Fawkes gave his life in the cause of freedom–by means of a train-full of explosives, while “hundreds of thousands” of people watch in Guy Fawkes masks (including some who had died previously). Isn’t that sweet?

And I thought I would be seeing a Guy (no pun intended) In A Mask fighting Evil. As one reviewer put it, “The only thing I wanted to blow up after seeing it was the marketing department that made it look so cool and exciting. Can I get an R for Refund?”

Actually, this was essentially a cinematic Special K commercial: “Oh, you want cool fight scenes? Well, you’re gonna need 10 bowls of V For Vendetta to equal one serving of The Matrix.” “Anarchy-is-cool revolution? You’re gonna need 25 bowls of V For Vendetta to equal one serving of Fight Club.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being manipulated. If you’re going to propagandize me, at least make me sympathize with the heroes of the movie first, without your agenda being so transparent that anything I might have liked about the movie is ruined halfway through. But hey, if you like being force-fed every left-wing complaint by bulldozer, by all means, see this movie!
(A friend with whom I saw the movie said that his only expectation was gratuitous violence. However much you might disagree with the sentiment, let me tell you, there wasn’t nearly enough cool violence to make up for the ham-fisted delivery. The coolest fight scene was at the end; by then, I was ready to leave.)

The allusions to what the left-wing thinks of the Bush administration are so obvious, no microscope is needed. Did anyone else notice that during one of Natalie Portman’s voice-overs, she says something about “400 years later” after Guy Fawkes? Hmm, “1605” plus “400”… Wait, I thought this was 2020…? Ohhh…

Note the aforementioned resemblance of the “man without a conscience” to Karl Rove. There’s also the fact that the reason the United States is in complete chaos (in the movie-nod, nod) is that it had fought an ill-advised war. Then there’s the religious overtones of the government’s official line, and how “complete compliance” is required. Oh, and the fact that homosexuals and those who read the Koran are outlawed (not to mention the homosexuals who are ALSO sadomasochistic). And don’t forget that our–um, their–rights were being taken away and they didn’t do anything about it; we–they, I mean–just let the government do what it wanted and just look where that has gotten us–er, them! (The government–again, we’re talking about in the movie–got its way by saying it was just pursuing terrorists.) And how could anyone miss the
hero’s line: “Blowing up one building can change the world.” He means, Parliament, right?

[Of course, all of these are reasons why some reviewers loved the movie (you’ll notice good reviews outweigh the bad, generally pooh-poohing anyone who didn’t like it as not enlightened or fun enough, a la the predictable Daniel Fienberg: “Sure to be troubling for those incapable of distinguishing political allegory from social realism, ‘V for Vendetta’ will be the year’s most misunderstood and confoundingly discussed film.”). Not everyone liked it. Newsweek is right on for once, and even the LA Times didn’t like the movie–though, of course, they liked the idea. Best review? Here.]

That’s not even to mention the vile Roman Catholic (or Anglican?) bishop who has a taste for young girls–see, the one time they could have made a point about homosexuality, they chose to change reality.

No doubt the response would be: Whoa, Mr. Paranoid, we were just making a movie about how bad totalitarianism is at any time. It’s not our fault that people see similarities to certain governments. That just goes to show how bad things really are. (Anecdote: as we were coming out of the theater, a guy behind me says, “Awesome movie, awesome. That’s what we need in this country!” Not sure if he meant the oppression of homosexuals or the demolition of Parliament.)

The problem with that is, that’s not how things are, nor, despite the fear-mongering, does George W. Bush have designs on such. Brothers Wachowski: when was the last time jack-booted thugs truncheoned one of your pseudo-politically-informed buddies and hauled him into a windowless cell for calling Bush Hitler? Oh right, never. By the way, who is more fascistic: the person who thinks that certain things should not be said, or the person who thinks certain speech is deserving of jail time? Guess what, it’s generally not the people whose speech opposes homosexual behavior who think jail time is the better option. The worst censors are on the side of the ACLU, not the Religious Right.

It’s just too bad the Wachowski brothers missed the Oscars; this has Best Picture written all over it! Hollowood loves agenda-driven films. I’m pretty sure BarebBrokeback was a better movie, though.