February 10, 2012

The man behind the "V for Vendetta" mask says he feels "V for validation."

Alan Moore:
It... 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....

As for the ideas tentatively proposed in that dystopian fantasy thirty years ago, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that whatever usefulness they afford modern radicalism is very satisfying.

38 comments:

KJE said...

It's uncanny that Moore wrote about the tyranny of a government that forces us to adopt certian beliefs, lifestyles, and practices, even those to which we are opposed?

Revenant said...

V for Vendetta remains one of my favorite graphic novels. Terrible movie, though -- missed the whole point of the original.

That being said, I think maybe there's something in the water at DC Comics that turns their writers crazy after a few years.

Toshstu said...

The mask has replaced the keffiyeh and the Ché Berét

Progress!.

Scott M said...

As for the ideas tentatively proposed in that dystopian fantasy thirty years ago, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that whatever usefulness they afford modern radicalism is very satisfying.

An author's ego is a many-splendid thing.

Alex said...

Seems that Moore missed the point of his original novel too. I guess he got more radical leftist in his old age.

edutcher said...

These are the people turning public parks into sewers and promising asymmetrical warfare in the Spring.

Yeah, something to be proud of.

Palladian said...

Nothing says Radical! like a 20-something in a plastic Halloween mask.

Geoff Matthews said...

I read V for Vendetta in the 90s, and thought, at first, that it was engaging.
I read it again in 1999, and, having learned something about revolutions and anarchy, found it disgusting.
Moore's thinking on anarchy is a mile wide and an inch deep. Plus, his predictions of government monitoring didn't occur under a Tory government (like Thatcher's), but a Labor government (like Blair's).
He may tell a good story for some, but I find him shallow.

Geoff Matthews said...

Alex,

Moore has always been a leftist. Hated Thatcher from day one.

Alex said...

Why did the left hate Thatcher so much? Probably because she opposed the unions and wanted to decrease the welfare state. Scott Walker = Maggie Thatcher on a state level.

Irene said...

"anarchy, romance, and theatre"

This is the product. Remember the three words.

Thorley Winston said...

I’m pretty sure that the Guy Fawkes mask predates Moore’s “V for Vendetta.”

Considering the state of affairs that London was in at the end of the graphic novel (one gigantic hobo camp rife with theft, anarchy and women forced to sell themselves for a can of beans), it seems a fitting symbol for the “Occupy” movement.

Coketown said...

Also feeling a sense of validation: Warner Bros. Studios, who owns the copyright for the V mask. It's a scheme worthy of Scrooge McDuck or Dick Cheney: Warner Bros. sells these radical idiots their own deluded pretensions in the form of a mask, then takes that money to finance lobbying efforts for things like SOPA/PIPA to completely undermine said radical idiots. The studio literally sells these "anarchists" the rope by which they'll hang.

Revenant said...

Plus, his predictions of government monitoring didn't occur under a Tory government

The government of V for Vendetta wasn't Tory. It was a thinly-disguised version of the National Front party, which was at its peak of political influence when Moore was writing V for Vendetta.

Pub Editor said...

Moore's thinking on anarchy is a mile wide and an inch deep.

I fully agree.

Plus, his predictions of government monitoring didn't occur under a Tory government (like Thatcher's), but a Labor government (like Blair's).

For what it's worth, one of Alan Moore's other characters, John Constantine, expresses contempt for the New Labour government of Blair & Co., accusing them of basically being indistinguishable from the Tories. In Hellblazer # 134, Constantine says, "This ain't Labour like I remember it." New Labour reminds Constantine of Thatcher.

(This is roughly comparable to American progressives and leftists who see the Democrats as basically indistinguishable from the GOP, or who see the Democratic Party as having betrayed liberalism.)

bagoh20 said...

"highly motivated protesters"

The only motivation I saw was coveting.

If you wear a mask in a free society with our first amendment rights, it only shows you are ashamed of what you are doing as right they should have been.

These Occupy protests have shown more people to be fools than any event in my lifetime. It's hard to believe those young people are from the same stock that explored the entire planet and built our civilization. We have been doing something wrong bringing up our offspring.

Pub Editor said...

Also, Blair's Labour govt. may have given Britain the surveillance state, but Cameron and the Conservatives have not exactly been rushing to undo their predecessors' work in that area.

Kirk Parker said...

"...the National Front party, which was at its peak of political influence..."

Yeah, right.







Doubling zero still gives you zero...

Revenant said...

Personally I don't think Moore's views on politics need to be taken into consideration when appreciating his work. You don't even need to consider his views ON his own work.

As Thorley pointed out, it is by no means a given that the average resident of V-England is better off as a result of the collapse of their government. Making the character into an obviously "heroic" figure was the primary flaw of the movie. You can legitimately interpret the story as being about a psychotic terrorist destroying the peoples' one hope for survival.

"Which is better, totalitarianism or anarchy" is an interesting question, at least to me.

Thorley Winston said...

The government of V for Vendetta wasn't Tory. It was a thinly-disguised version of the National Front party, which was at its peak of political influence when Moore was writing V for Vendetta.

You’re correct that Norsefire was pastiche of the National Front but Moore wrote the original story to express his opposition to Thatcher’s Tory government and IIRC he said as much in the prologue to the graphic novel.

Coldstream said...

Revenant,

The National Front peaked in the late 70's. "V for Vendetta" was published `82-`85. The National Front only managed about 20,000 votes in the 1983 elections, down from about 200,000 in 1979.

Much of the left viewed Thatcher in the same vein (or worse) as any actual fascist and a great number of artists proceeded to say so in their works.

Jay said...

to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Yes, because nothing says "anarchy" like those calling for more government.

Revenant said...

Yeah, right. Doubling zero still gives you zero...

They got a few hundred thousand votes -- tiny, but nonzero.

Bear in mind that Moore didn't have them coming to power normally. In his history Labor won and disarmed Britain, resulting in it NOT being nuked in the war that destroyed most of the rest of the world. The Party rose to power in the period of collapse, famine, and violence following the war. That's not at all implausible -- it maps pretty well onto how past totalitarian governments came to power.

Revenant said...

The National Front peaked in the late 70's. "V for Vendetta" was published `82-`85.

I was off by a few years, then.

But I'm still right about Norsefire being the National Front.

Anyway, you're right that Moore hated the Tories. I was just replying to Geoff's implication that the government of V for Vendetta was Tory.

Geoff Matthews said...

Revenant,

I don't think it is too hard to see Moore projecting the Norsefire gov's actions onto the Tories.
Particularly with the forward to the graphic novel. That coloured my reading for it the second time around.

dbp said...

Anarchy is all fun and romance until it actually happens. Then you get dragged from your house and beaten to death with clubs.

Alex said...

dbp - Alan Moore imagines that he will be safe in his mansion while the Tories he so hates will be drug and beaten from their mansions.

Robert Cook said...

"An author's ego is a many-splendid thing."

ScottM, aren't you an aspiring author? If so, you should know your ego will be (or is) a many splendored thing".

Kirk Parker said...

Rev,

Your initial mention of NF didn't say votes, it said influence. I do assert it was essentially zero even at their peak.

Ken said...

...a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre...

That about says it. Thoughtless, violent, ahistorical feel-goods wrapped up in romance and theatre. Who cares if it's degrading and debasing? It's romantic and theatrical, damnit! If it feels good, do it, right?

Moore's an idiot. On top of the V for Vendetta crap, people ooh and ahh over his other politically retarded book: Watchmen, which is the graphic novel equivalent of fecal matter.

Revenant said...

What is "politically retarded" about Watchmen?

Alex said...

Watchmen was great, I loved it.

John Lynch said...

What I got from Alan Moore was that he hated Ronald Reagan (Watchmen) and he hated Margaret Thatcher (V).

It wasn't dystopian fantasy, it was what he really thought.

Revenant said...

How do you get "Moore hates Reagan" out of Watchmen? Reagan wasn't even in the book.

I mean, I'm sure he DID hate Reagan, but nothing about Reagan, Reagan's ideology, or Reagan's policies has any relation to the story.

Robert R. said...

Moore, at least in the '80s, understood the difference between drama and political tract.

Anybody who actually read V for Vendetta will know that Moore didn't present anarchy as a sunshine and butterflies utopia at the end. Heck, one of the principal characters walks off into the darkness, not a sunset, at the end. Moore had a President Kennedy being the guy in charge of mutually assured destruction on the American side.

Same for Watchmen. The liberal democrat, if you take the Black Freighter interludes as Moore's true stance, is the bad guy no matter how good his intentions. It's about the abuse of power and the ends justify the means philosophy first, politics second. Just like Frank Miller was lampooning the left and right in The Dark Knight Returns.

Whether Moore would be that distinct now, is an open question. But, the man's writing has always been much more thoughtful and full of craft than his public politics.

Youngblood said...

Revenant wrote:

"I mean, I'm sure he DID hate Reagan, but nothing about Reagan, Reagan's ideology, or Reagan's policies has any relation to the story."

Actually, I'd take this further and point out that the world of Moore's Watchmen was one in which "The Sixties" never happened, and the structure of post-Depression America never collapsed. There was no loss in Vietnam, no Watergate national disgrace, Nixon remained popular, and the institutions of post-Depression America emerged largely unscathed.

And that sort of thing, the dehumanizing managerial impulse at the heart of the Western system at the middle of the 20th century is what comes under fire. That's why, despite Moore's own distaste for Randian Objectivism, Rorschach becomes the work's moral center (and anti-hero) and the intensely liberal (in the mid-20th century sense) Ozymandias becomes the work's villain.

The irony is that, although Moore has stated time and time again that he had no love for Reagan, he nonetheless created a work that plugged into and reinforced many of the themes of the Reagan revolution.

Go figure.

Youngblood said...

As far as V for Vendetta goes, the film was lousy, but the book was pretty good, and I think that it took real balls for Moore to write characters promoting things that he identified with (i.e. anarchism) as ruthless and brutal, while writing characters who promoted things that he found abhorrent (i.e. fascism) who were fairly sympathetic. There are few works that manage to pull that off (Romero's Night of the Living Dead is one of them, and it underpins several scenes in Dawn of the Dead as well; Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is another.)

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