anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

"V for Vendetta" revisited.

I re-watched "V for Vendetta" recently when Channel 5 showed it and I had nothing better to do. I'm not sure it'd be accurate to say I "loved" it when I first watched it two years ago, but I definitely did like it, enough to write in this entry, "...totally loved the last scene when the people congregated and witnessed the Parliament house blowing up and took off their masks, loved how the troops didn't open fire at the crowd..."

How time flies, how we go from proactive to reactive, how one's perspective changes radically in a span of two years. I watched the same film a few days ago and absolutely hated it. I hated it. Its entertainment value aside, I simply could not agree with the premise of the film, that it's okay to blow up buildings and to terrorise civilians, even those working for a propaganda government, with bombs and bomb threats, just to make a statement.

I'm sorry, but you can make a statement in so many other ways that don't include violence and deaths, incidental or otherwise. V's extra-judicial killings also conflicted fundamentally with my arduous and unflinching belief in the law and justice and due process and all that stupid crap. I mean, I understand that it's a dystopic Great Britain. There is no law. The Chancellor is a shit, and so is Creedy.

But the movie justifies its philosophy precisely because it exaggerates its context. It over-exaggerates its context to the point of dishonesty - and I think this might be why I said in another entry that the movie "did a mediocre job in realising its dystopic ambitions". Sure the Great Britain in the movie is nightmarish; but is it believable? Even after disbelief has been suspended, is it believable? Somehow I find George Orwell's tale of how Big Brother is watching you, and Aldous Huxley's totally crazy world where human beings are "decanted" and manufactured on a conveyor belt, vastly more believable than some half-baked fantasy about Great Britain's government poisoning its own citizens for reasons that completely escape me. Ultimately, what did the movie warn against? Dystopian novels are great because there is a point; they are cautionary tales against over-reliance on science and genetics at the cost of human concern, against an all-powerful state capable of encroaching into every aspects of your lives; what is the point to V for Vendetta? That whenever you're disgruntled with your government, solve all your problems by blowing up the HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT? Even if I didn't love those old and historical buildings so much, I still wouldn't agree with this point of view.

I'm sorry, but even though I completely agree that people shouldn't be afraid of their governments and that governments should be afraid of the people, the execution of this principle basically suggests that revolution and chaos and violence is always an acceptable means to an end. Is it really? It can't be. If everyone acted like V does, there wouldn't be any need, let alone use of, the law. And I'm not just saying this because I'm a control-freak law student who likes rules and procedures (the latter is actually contestable but anyway); I'm saying this because history is ample proof of what can happen if law is thrown out of the picture, if we take "people power" to its logical conclusion, if there is no higher principles, higher morality, to keep people in check. These higher principles are fundamentally reflected in law, at least to some extent, and if we forget why law exists in the first place, we'd have a situation like V for Vendetta: both the government it depicts, and the supposed "hero" that revolts against the oppressive, tyrannical government that the movie so champions, but whom really is just the other side of the same coin by seeking vengeance, not justice.

I wonder if the people that like this film and exalt it for its "message" realise that V is really just one of the run-of-the-mill suicide bomber-types that the so-called "civilised" world so condemns. What is the difference between a masked man who blows up buildings versus disaffected, disenfranchised, possibly misled, teenagers and young adults that strap bombs to themselves and blow up buildings? And themselves? It's really just a cop-out to assume that there was no on in the Old Bailey and Houses of Parliament when the bombs went off. It never happens in real life. And if it's just a movie, it shouldn't be taken to have a deeper meaning, a profound message; but the fact that many, many people think it has both, it's really not just a movie anymore, is it?

I think we have to be consistent and principled. It doesn't make sense to condone V's modus operandi and yet condemn the real-life bombings and suicide attacks because they are the same thing. They are both acting out against a perceived oppressor. V's case only looks more justified and even just because it's a movie and they give you a beginning, middle and end; but in real life, it's never that simple. But it doesn't mean violence is right, that bombing buildings with no regard to the people that may be inside and threatening civilians with bombs are right - because they are not, no matter the cause, no matter the justification.

Tags: human rights, law, literature, movies, philosophy

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