This month makes nine years since the release of the V for Vendetta film directed by James McTeigue, and, 27 years since the graphic novel was released by DC Comics in 1988. This November will also mark the 410th anniversary of Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain. I thought I would honor these anniversaries by discussing the reasons for the creation, and powerful message, of V for Vendetta, which has been a staple of freedom and justice in the comic community since its publication.
Writer Alan Moore was inspired by Margaret Hilda Thatcher (aka The Iron Lady) and her run as British Prime Minister (from 1979-1990). Deep down, Moore believed Thatcher was a supreme fascist, and that her conservative party was dedicated to ushering in a new era of totalitarianism in the United Kingdom. Artist David Llyod and Moore chose Guy Fawkes as the face of V because it gave the character an unconventional superhero look. In addition, some British citizens honor Guy Fawkes on November 5th of every year to remember his dedication to freedom, and his unyeilding faith in revolution.
Here is a brief synopsis of V for Vendetta:
Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressors of the world in which he now lives. When V saves a young woman named Evey from the secret police, he discovers an ally in his fight against England’s oppressors.
Alan Moore is sometimes known as a mentally unstable quack, but the era of “Thatcherism” is not a joke. Margaret Thatcher was not called the Iron Lady for nothing. According to Juan Cole, here are just some of the ways she made the world a crappier place:
The wealthiest 620,000 Britons take home twice as much of the national income every year as they did before Thatcher. The share of the working and middle classes plummeted in the same period.
In 2008, the top .1 percent, 62,000 Britons, received 5 percent of the country’s income, constituting a new aristocracy of wealth and privilege.
Current British government plans, following in the Thatcherite neo-liberal direction, “would . . . lead to public sector job cuts of 710,000, more child poverty and a hike in university fees.”
Thatcher denied that there was any Palestine and her refusal to accept the Palestine Liberation Organization as a negotiating partner (at the time it represented almost all Palestinians) helped derail any peace process, allowing the Israelis to go ahead with the colonization of the Occupied Territories and the expropriation of Palestinian property.
In 1980 14% of the UK was in poverty. Today some 33% suffer multiple forms of financial insecurity.
That is scary! These warped government policies of the 80s seem no different now. In fact, the rich have only gotten richer, while the poor are beyond desperate. When the poor get desperate, be prepared for brutality (at the hands of the government), anger (for the poor state of living), and revolution. But the question remains, where is V for this generation? Who is that one person that — against all odds — will stand up for equality of everyone? Some would argue that title belongs to the internet hacker group Anonymous. The group members identities remain hidden behind Guy Fawkes mask and represent some of the principles of Guy Fawkes: anarchy, revolution, self preservation. Furthermore, they have risked their freedom to bring high profile individuals to justice. Beyond that, who else is there? The answer is, there is you and I. Now, more than ever does the message of V for Vendetta ring true. People need to remind themselves that they are free men and women who do not need to subject themselves to any form of tyranny. Police brutality, government corruption, and Theologians with too much power are dictating too much of our lives. “They” need to remember there is power in our numbers and we have the numbers powerful enough to make change if we choose to.
“Remember, Remember, the 5th of November” Remember you are V.