31 October 2011

Masked and Anonymous

Of course I had my mask before it was cool.
In an earlier post on last Saturday's #OccupyDameStreet march I made a snarky remark or two about so many folks using the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta, and an anonymous comment (but probably not "Anonymous" anonymous) prompted me to go and do a bit of research on the internets.

My snarky remarks weren't about the nature or actions of Anonymous, more the adoption by so many people of a piece of movie merchandise that seemed to offer no benefit to 50% of its original creator team. I am a huge V for Vendetta fan (the comic, not the execrable film) and have met artist David Lloyd and he seemed happy enough about the film adaptation, but I never had a chance to talk to Alan Moore about it. I assumed that because of all the hulabaloo when the film came out that he would be equally unhappy about Time Warner making loads of money from his creation, as he told MTV:
When you're talking about things like "V for Vendetta" or "Watchmen," I don't have a choice. Those were works which DC Comics kind of tricked me out of, so they own all that stuff and it's up to them whether the film gets made or not. All I can do is say, "I want my name taken off of it and I don't want any of the money." I'd rather the money be distributed amongst the artists. But even though [the filmmakers] were aware that I'd asked that my name be taken off "V for Vendetta" and had already signed my money away to the artist, they issued a press release saying I was really excited about the film. Which was a lie. I asked for a retraction, but they weren't prepared to do that. So I announced I wouldn't be working with DC Comics anymore. I just couldn't bear to have any contact with DC Comics, Warner Bros. or any of this shark pool ever again...

...I've read the screenplay, so I know exactly what they're doing with it, and I'm not going to be going to see it. When I wrote "V," politics were taking a serious turn for the worse over here. We'd had [Conservative Party Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher in for two or three years, we'd had anti-Thatcher riots, we'd got the National Front and the right wing making serious advances. "V for Vendetta" was specifically about things like fascism and anarchy.

Those words, "fascism" and "anarchy," occur nowhere in the film. It's been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country. In my original story there had been a limited nuclear war, which had isolated Britain, caused a lot of chaos and a collapse of government, and a fascist totalitarian dictatorship had sprung up. Now, in the film, you've got a sinister group of right-wing figures — not fascists, but you know that they're bad guys — and what they have done is manufactured a bio-terror weapon in secret, so that they can fake a massive terrorist incident to get everybody on their side, so that they can pursue their right-wing agenda. It's a thwarted and frustrated and perhaps largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values [standing up] against a state run by neo-conservatives — which is not what "V for Vendetta" was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about [England]. The intent of the film is nothing like the intent of the book as I wrote it. And if the Wachowski brothers had felt moved to protest the way things were going in America, then wouldn't it have been more direct to do what I'd done and set a risky political narrative sometime in the near future that was obviously talking about the things going on today?
So you can see why I might have thought he would have a bee in his bonnet at the thought of DC/Time Warner making money from every single piece of merchandise sold from a film he publicly and vehemently disowned.

However a cursory online search turned up the following quote from him from an interview at ComicCon in 2008:
"I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta [Guy Fawkes] masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."
So apparently Mr Moore is cool with whole appropriation thing.

I hereby withdraw my objection.

Also, this internets thing may have its uses after all.

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At 3:53 am, Anonymous Alan Rouge said...

In 'Capitalist Realism' Mark Fisher highlights the unique dystopia of Children of Men as "specific to late capitalism". He contrasts this with V for Vendetta which he calls a "familiar totalitarian scenario routinely trotted out in cinematic dystopias.

I don't think Children of Men had any marketable merchandise one could wear on their face though.


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