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Anarchistic Activism: How V for Vendetta Sparked a Movement

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 Anarchistic Activism: How V for Vendetta Sparked a Movement


Dystopian Realities Predicted 13 Years Ago

 Ten years ago, a political thriller was released to the public. Depicting a terrifying dystopian fascist-run Britain and the United States in fractured ruins, V for Vendetta predicts a future that is rampant with domestic terrorism and sociopolitical corruption. Though the reality projected is fantasy, the fears and themes are very real to today’s culture. Government officials are under constant surveillance to ensure their power is not misused, minorities are questioned and detained in fear of another terrorist attack, protests break out en mass across the country at injustice that is perpetuated by people of power; the world of V is not so unrealistic as one may hope.

Political Hierarchy

Within the film’s tale lies the setting of dystopian Britain, run by High Chancellor Adam Sutler of the Norsefire party. Reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984 (Chocano, 2006), Sutler broadcasts whatever he dictates onto every television and monitor in all of England; his slogan “Peace Through Unity” is a constant mantra within the political force. Sutler, according to film critic Richard Roeper (2006), models infamous German dictator Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Sutler encourages ethnocentrism and religious superiority in the public. His messages are aimed at the masses to promote his party’s beliefs and prevent questioning of the obviously imbalanced power dynamic he implemented.

Sutler’s rise to power is similar to Hitler’s own political campaign in that he created tragedies within the nation and used the mass hysteria to fuel his political agenda. He directed a bioweapons program that experimented on the “undesirables” of society, which created the deadly “St. Mary’s virus”. The virus, which was released into three public locations, killed nearly 100,000 people – of which a large portion were children. By blaming “radical Muslims” for the terrorist attack on a school, train station, and water treatment plant, Sutler used the fear generated to win his party the next election. Using this newfound power, Sutler quickly erased dissenting viewpoints and “alternative” lifestyles from the general populace.

Gordon Dietrich, a prominent entertainer of the Party, is a homosexual and collector of prohibited material. Because of his sexual orientation, Dietrich is forced to live alone and unfulfilled both socially and sexually, and he is killed for treason due to the materials in his home. In a similar situation, an actress named Valerie Page was imprisoned, tortured, and experimented on because of her homosexuality during the Larkhill bioweapons study. Alternatively, Evey Hammond’s parents were arrested and killed for their opposing political views. A young girl is shot and killed for donning a Guy Fawkes mask and running around the streets of London. Each of these people are persecuted and murdered for differing from the forced mainstream.

Nonverbal Nuances

The letter “V,” which is the moniker of the experimental subject and anarchist V, is also one of the most powerful symbols of resistance against governmental corruption within the film. It is interesting to note that the letter “V” also represents the roman numeral five, and could also allude to the fifth of November. V’s cell in Larkhill is designated with the letter as well, which creates a web of interconnecting events within the film. The symbol is often splayed across public areas (such as the fireworks in the sky above the explosions of the Old Bailey and the houses of Parliament) as well as in private places (the personal televisions of all people in Britain during the broadcast takeover). Furthermore, the Guy Fawkes mask becomes synonymous with V as part of an image of fighting against forced conformity and blind submission.

Another example of nonverbal communication within the film is the charismatic body language V presents to anyone he encounters. V speaks in dramatics by using large, swooping motions and holding himself as though he is not a real person, but a character or figure from a fantasy story. This can be seen in his mimicking of a scene from The Count of Monte Cristo. His lack of subtlety in his movements is a mirror to his actions and feelings. He uses aggressive, destructive defiance to incite rebellion and send out his message clearly: I will not stop until my voice is heard, I will not stop until there is change, and I will destroy until my will is done.

The weaponry is also symbolic; guns and bullets are mass-manufactured and replicated, and used solely by the military. Blades, however, are elegant, lethal, and unique in each weapon, a clear distinction from the masses and the conformity of guns; while V is the most noticeable in his usage of daggers and swords, the rioters also use blades of different kinds (the snow shovel, the rake, and the spade used in the public outrage for example) which tells of their resistance to government coercion. Also to be noted is the rebellion of the city, which is a huge nonverbal reaction to V’s rather provocative speech; the entire population begins to revolt against the corruption of their entire governmental infrastructure. The wearing of “banned” items (i.e. the trademark mask, cape, and hat) is a clear denial of group conformity and submission.

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