Just say NO to Tractors!

Der neue Hudsonblick von Charles ist da! Uff Englisch, wie immer. Kommentieren darf man übrigens auch auf Deutsch!

A V for Vendetta Movie Review

Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

The first goal of any extremist group is not the elimination of their diametric enemy, but the elimination of moderate thought. In this strategy, at least, President Bush and the Terrorists were on the same page. Whether enforced with fundamentalist death threats or wild accusations of treason, it“™s My Way or the Highway. Soon after, to make the new zeitgeist completely clear (as it must be!), the President further informed us that he did not „do nuance.“ There was a brief pause to bludgeon reasonable discussion, and then we all started dancing to a stiff, old tune.

Beyond the lives lost to this raging pugnacity, we have also, to a degree, lost our minds. A black-and-white president has made the U.S. into a black-and-white country, each of us feverishly evangelizing a case that, in our own minds, seems completely self-evident. V for Vendetta unintentionally illustrates one of the vacuous quests that absolutism inspires: the quest for vindication by analogy. In one version of this quest, the mind fumbles through the chaos of the universe, randomly sticking sets of pegs into the variously shaped holes of our political thesis until they fit. Then, the pegs are either trumpeted or trashed depending on which holes they fell into. Science. Music. Profane, crudely animated cartoons. No statement or action is remote enough to avoid a political interpretation. In another version, the analogies are more carefully chosen.

They were bent on profitable cruises, the profit to be counted down in dollars from the mint. He was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge.
— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

V for Vendetta is well-rooted in two familiar genres: the revenge story and the totalitarian dystopia (invariably set in England). Deathwish meets George Orwell. What could go wrong, you ask? For me, making the story into an allegorical piss on Bush is what went wrong. Mind you, it“™s not the pissing that“™s the problem. I applaud the pissing. Piss away. The only problem is that the analogies in this tale are nothing new. Bush = nihilistic theocrat. September the 11th = fake terror act calculated to provide cover for tyranny. Fundamentalist Christian morality = jackboots at the door. The elements of the Bush presidency (9/11, patriotism, war, religion, protests, etc) have been twisted like a Rubik“™s Cube for some years now, into every available plotline. We all know the permutations at this point, and we all have our favorites. You either believe any given one or you don“™t. There“™s no revelation in this game; just predictable spin. And if there“™s one thing I want to get out of an extended soliloquy from a florid fop in a mask, it“™s some kind of revelation.

…die Strafe gibt den Vollstreckern nicht selten Gelegenheit, unter der Rechtfertigung der Sühne dieselbe frevle Tat auch ihrerseits zu begehen. Es ist dies ja eine der Grundlagen der menschlichen Strafordnung, und sie hat, wie gewiß richtig, die Gleichartigkeit der verbotenen Regungen beim Verbrecher wie bei der rächenden Gesellschaft zur Voraussetzung.
— Sigmund Freud, Das Tabu und die Ambivalenz der Gefühlsregungen

So what can we do when every story has been written, and every road has been mapped, paved, and tolled? The first step is to understand that it isn“™t so. The universe is rich beyond our comprehension; we don’t have to limit ourselves to the threadbare scenarios we“™ve been offered. I plead for a moratorium: a moratorium on cartoon clichés that substitute for thought, a moratorium on treating reality like a ping-pong match. A moratorium on the moral certainty that demands audacious, immitigable, immoral acts. There is a way out, but first we have to end this robotic imitation of sense. We have to write new stories, and we have to live them.

This election of George Bush was a defeat for America, but the bigger defeat was that the population spent two years allowing itself to be lied to. For two years we allowed this idiotic farce of an election to insult our dignity as human beings. We should all feel sick about it. I do. I feel sick enough to spend the next two years puking my guts out.
— Matt Taibi, Spanking the Donkey, Introduction

Bonus Link:
Just say NO to tractors!

6 Kommentare

  1. 01

    Probably you are right and there’s nothing new about the analogies. But what the movie achieved, at least, is packaging them nicely and ready to be grasped by the occasional „friday night and nothing better to do“ movie watcher. I’m writing this just after coming home from seeing it, so i’m still pretty impressed.

  2. 02

    Wenn man den Film nur auf seine sicherlich agressiv vorgetragene anarchistische Message beschränkt, kann man ihn sicherlich abtun mit einer „been there, done that“-Attitüde, aber wenn es danach geht, kann man wohl die meisten Meinungsäusserungen, persönliche wie künstlerische, in diese Kategorie einordnen, denn wie oft wird einem wirklich eine originär-neue Sichtweise präsentiert die man so noch nicht gehört hat?

    Die Frage und das zu bewertende Element sollte immer sein, wie geschickt und elegant wird eine Meinung verpackt. Insofern würde ich dem vorangegangenen Posting zustimmen. Für ein absolutes Mainstream-Produkt taugt V for Vendetta sicherlich als Auslöser von Diskussionen und fordert Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema Terrorismus oder Freiheitskäampf sicherlich eher heraus, als viele andere Werke.
    Der Film polarisiert, einige stimmen seiner Message zu, andere lehnen sie ab – viele finden sich in der Mitte wieder. Man kann aber zumindest darüber reden, das ist für Popcornkino doch eine ganze Menge…

  3. 03

    „žDie Frage und das zu bewertende Element sollte immer sein, wie geschickt und elegant wird eine Meinung verpackt.“

    Hmmm. Even when I am with you regarding the rest of your comments I have some difficulties with this sentence, which means (for charles): „The Question and the remarkable element should be, how clever and elegant an idea is designed“.

    Lets switch to a totally different thing: the iPod. The iPod has a very simple and wonderful design in software and packaging, no question bout that, BUT: the idea, that you can play whatever comes your way, if it is MP3, which is still THE audio web format, you CAN play it. This idea is the core of the success of the ipod, and that has nothing to do with design.

    I really have a problem to add a factor called „ždesign“ to the concept of the „židea“, although I get your point, oliver.

    And besides: the film misses some central points of the comic, but it is quite cool. for example, the character of V is much less explained in the movie, which makes it much (MUCH!) weaker than the comic. because V can only add that „žbeneath this mask is an idea – and ideas are bulletproof“-attitude just because of his past, which I miss in the movie.


  4. 04

    I was afraid I would come off as a killjoy.
    I wouldn’t say that movies should be completely original and non-allegorical (is that even possible?), just that the way we talk about US politics is in a deep rut, and that even non-political subjects are getting dragged into that same rut.

    That said, grab some popcorn and watch it for the nifty fight scenes, sure!

  5. 05

    „the elimination of moderate thought“ stellt sich leider als wahr heraus, V wie Vendetta ist mittlerweile aber nicht nur Filmkennern sondern vielen anderen Menschen durch die Anonymous-Bewegung bekannt, nicht zuletzt durch die Guy Fawkes Masken die bei großen Demonstrationen getragen werden.

    Viele Grüße


  6. 06

    Thanks, Frank, for the apropos update