I have seen the terrorist, and he is me. And you. And all of us. So says Evey (Natalie Portman), an acolyte of V (Hugh Weaving), the swashbuckling savior of future England who disguises himself as Guy Fawkes.
But don’t worry, because being a terrorist is now a good thing. As we've been told by the media, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter…or masked superhero as the case may be.
In fact, according to The New York Daily News' critic, Jaimi Bernard, even the term "suicide bombing" is now relative. "One person's idea of social liberation through symbolic fireworks is another person's suicide bombing," she insists in her review of V for Vendetta.
So even though V threatens to detonate a load of explosives strapped to his chest, killing dozens of innocent people at the BBC (oh, excuse me, BFC) if they don't give him air-time, just think of him as Batman — a little overly-dramatic and conflicted perhaps, but also sexy and an undeniable force for good.
I can see him this way because of all the Wachowski Brothers have taught me. My eyes have been opened, and I am no longer an automaton of the Right-wing religious-military-industrial complex.
Thanks to this "parable about terrorism and totalitarianism" (Roger Ebert) I have been "prodded to think" (The San Francisco Chronicle). And I now think that the Bush administration blew up the twin towers and tried to blow up two other U.S. targets on 9/11 in order to scare Americans into giving them more power. I think that conservatives hate art, literature, and music—especially jazz music—and want to lock it all away because, well, they’re just mean like that.
I think that Catholics are in league with Republicans, and that together it is they, and not radical Islamists, who would like to exterminate all homosexuals and execute anyone that produces material critical of the Church-State. I think it is Christians who persecute people for reading the Koran and not Muslims who persecute people for reading the Bible.
I think that the West's military personnel are the ones who place hoods over innocent people's heads then mercilessly torture and kill them, and that broadcasts of Islamo-fascists doing so are so much laughable propaganda.
But most of all, in true V style, I think that documents, like buildings, are only symbols, and that burning them can change the world. Therefore, I propose that we storm the National Archives and torch the Constitution—the document responsible for unleashing the Great Evil that is America.
After all, that's what the Wachowskis want, isn't it? When [spoiler alert] the English masses gather and cheer as Parliament, that British symbol of representative government burns, aren't we too supposed to cheer? Aren't we supposed to want to run out of theater ready to don our Osama Bin Laden masks, ready to confront the world's biggest terrorist mastermind on the White House lawn?
Oh, but wait, the movie is "dystopian" and therefore has nothing to do with current events. The "yellow-alerts" the vile dictator employs are a coincidence. The campy television show in which vaudevillian Al Qaeda operatives torture busty blondes, suggesting that the threat of terror is as fictional as it is ridiculous, means nothing. The balding talk show host with a pill-popping problem isn't intended to smear a real person.
And the fact that the script takes glee in constantly referring to the "former United States of America" and "their war" that left them "the world’s leper colony?" Umm, okay, that's a little hard to explain…let's just call that comic justice.
I could go into more detail, but really, there is no point. The fact the film's release had to be postponed when V’s final heroic act of loading explosives onto a subway car in the London underground proved too realistic illustrates how in-sync the Wachowski’s are with actual terrorists. Forget not being worth the price of admission, this ode to Al Zarqawi and his ilk certainly wasn’t worth the price of pretty Miss Portman’s flowing mane of chestnut hair.
But the worst part of Vendetta isn't the anti-Bush/anti-Blair agenda it pushes so feverishly. It's the legions of film critics who have lavished that agenda with praise.
To be fair, some admirers claim that it's only entertainment: "If you find a way to apply it to George Bush or Tony Blair, it’s only because the film's themes are so universal." (Cinema Blend) But most argue that the ideas it brings up are "important": "That it so cannily reflects specific concerns of this moment in history makes it an almost important movie." (Los Angeles Daily News)
The hangdogs can't have it both ways. Either the movie has nothing to do with the War on Terror and it's awful, or it has everything to do with the War on Terror and it's appalling.
Incidentally, after reading the script, creator of the V comic book, Alan Moore, insisted Warner Bros. remove his name from the project. He told MTV, "[My comic] has been turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country… [The film] is a thwarted and frustrated and 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" [the comic] was about."
Thankfully, cartoonish acting and a juvenilely self-reverential plot means no one except teenage boys (the ones in the row in front of me kept muttering, "Yeah, anarchy!" as London blazed) and crazed George Clooney disciples will take this movie's "important ideas" seriously.
Those are the people who are this very moment wailing, "Free speech! Free speech! The Wachowskis have every right to promote their beliefs!" To them I say, yep, they sure do.
And I have the right to unmask them for the ignorant, irresponsible, paranoid filmmakers that they are.