Vexatious Vicissitudes of Victory: V for Vendetta

Silja J.A. Talvi

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I had to wonder, after finally seeing V for Vendetta, how the Wachowski brothers are feeling right now. I'm not worried about their pocketbooks--the Matrix-famed, Hollywood-subversive brothers are probably doing just fine--but I do feel for the fact that they wrote a radical, kick-ass screenplay that isn't getting enough acclaim. Mainstream, blockbuster-oriented reviewers and audiences alike are panning the lack of "cool enough" special effects, and the country's liberals and radicals are apparently too "intellectual" to bother with a mainstream movie release.I was a reader of the 80s Alan Moore/David Lloyd comic book series of the same name, about the vengeance-bent-anarchist, V. The material then, as now, was stark, dark, and unquestionably revolutionary in nature.In movie form, V the character is less obviously an anarchist (although the tell-tale signs are still there), but still every bit the daring revolutionary.If you're an intellectual who favors art house indies, do me a favor and brave the mainstream for a minute … if nothing else, to see how popular culture can actually be put to good use. If you come out of the movie saying, "I don't get it, where are all the special effects," I sympathize with the fact that you're used to Matrix-level celluloid magic--but only to a point. Go to your favorite search engine and put in the following terms:* Guantanamo Bay * Abu Ghraib * CIA secret prisons * National Security * Surveillance methods in the U.S. and U.K. * PATRIOT Act * Muslims and special registration, arrest, detention and deportation in the U.S. * The Holocaust and persecution of sexual minorities and political dissidents (assuming you already know the part about Jews and the Gypsies/Roma) * The McCarthy Era * Monty Python skits * Indefinite detention * Trial without due process * Medical experimentation in prisons. For this one, feel free to check out my 2001 ITT cover story on the subject: The Prison as Laboratory.That'll be a good start.This is one hell of an important movie in this day and age, folks. Go check it out.

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Silja J.A. Talvi, a senior editor at In These Times, is an investigative journalist and essayist with credits in many dozens of newspapers and magazines nationwide, including The Nation, Salon, Santa Fe Reporter, Utne, and the Christian Science Monitor.
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