In a world where plagues and wars have crippled all nations, England prevails! Or so says the Voice of London, “No one escapes judgement. We did what we had to do. Strength through unity. Unity through faith!” The citizens of England accept this tyrannical regime in exchange for security. Those who think differently- homosexuals, political activists, artists, even a man who owns a Koran- are “black bagged,” detained, tortured, killed. But a terrorist called V reminds everyone that “fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words. They are perspectives.”
And so begins a story of revolution and violence, enlightenment and love. Adapted from a comic, it may seem too fantastic, unrealistic. But this story of courage can teach us a lot about the world we live in, as well as ourselves. How responsible are we for the suffering in the world if we stand by and watch it happen without a word? Why not question what government officials and the media tell us? Haven’t these same people been in power while standards of living steadily decline for many at their gain? What tools of control do they use to keep us scared and helpless, dependent on what degrades us? When will we finally stand up and reclaim our humanity? These are the questions raised by V for Vendetta.
V, the so-called terrorist, calls to the people of England to wake up from their stupor by blowing up the Old Bailey on November the 5th. He takes over the British Television Network (the only television network) to tell them why he did it and why they should join him.
I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine. The security, the familiar, the tranquility, repetition…but I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat…while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and, for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression; and while once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly there are those who are more responsible than others (and they will be held accountable) but again, truth be told, if you are looking for the guilty you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid- who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease? Fear got the best of you…But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek then I ask you to stand beside me…
Evil can only triumph when good people do nothing. It is our responsibility to speak out against the injustice we see. We should speak out against the War on Terror and our destructive policing of the world. Speak out against the War on Drugs and the resulting highest prison population per capita in the world. Speak out against the white collar criminals in Wall St. and Washington. If we should fail to do so, we support tyranny through our complacency just because it is more comfortable to stay quiet. The Chief Inspector investigating V poses the question, “If our own government was responsible for the deaths of almost 100.000 people, would you really want to know?” Yes, we must decide that ignorance is not bliss, that watching shitty reality television is not fulfilling, that we must instead seek our own truth. This is what happens when Evey Hammond meets our hero, V.
Like Evey, we may see through the facade our government and media present, but do nothing because of fear. Those in power do everything they can to keep it that way. Throughout the movie, BTN, the British Television Network, works as a mouthpiece for the government. In an effort to calm people after V’s BTN takeover, it is claimed that authorities have killed him. As V continues on his vendetta, the reporters must continue to whitewash his impact (with the exception of one brave comedian). But, hey, “our job is to report the news, not fabricate it. That’s the government’s job.” You can see examples of government controlled media today- look at the stories of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or the polarizing coverage given to the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Instead of objective reporting, all we have left are teleprompters and talking points.
Too bad for the manipulators, though, that you can’t fool all the people all the time. That’s when they turn to more violent means of control. Evey Hammond is all too familiar with England’s black bagging of dissenters, her own parents having been two victims of it. So when the lives of she and V become intertwined at the beginning of the movie, it is, I think, meant to be. V allows Evey to finally openly acknowledge the evils of the state. We need to wake up here in the real world, too. We are well on our way to black bagging of not just “enemy combatants” but also citizens with the passage of the NDAA. As the Chancellor of England says, “Gentlemen, I want this terrorist found, and I want him to understand what terror really means.” Fitting, considering his regime terrorized his own people for power. False flag attacks, like the biological weapons inflicted on Evey’s brother in V for Vendetta, are not fiction, but have happened throughout human history. A few examples in the United States include Operation Ajax, Operation Northwoods, and 9/11. “The true genius of the plan was the fear. Fear became the ultimate tool of this government.” Once a seed of truth is planted by V, the people no longer fear standing up to their controllers. We can accomplish this in the real world by spreading information as well.
By the 5th of November, everyone is ready to join V in his crusade against tyranny. With words and symbols, he awoke an entire nation. As V says, “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.” The triumph of the human spirit is perhaps the most important theme in V for Vendetta. Evey learns from a prisoner, “Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. Within that inch, we are free. Even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you.” She learns to fear only the loss of our freedom, our integrity, that we can transcend tragedy through love for ourselves and others. And the man she loved, who was V? Evey tells us, “He was Edmond Dantes. And he was my father and my mother. My brother, my friend. He was you and me. He was all of us.”