Monday, March 20, 2006

How the Wachowskis screwed up, why Alan Moore needs to shove his head right up his butt, and why V For Vendetta is brilliant

I saw V For Vendetta yesterday. Yes, it's a movie, but it's based on a comic book, so I will dissect it here! Brace yourself - I'm going to get extremely political and there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS!!!! If you haven't read the book or seen the movie and are planning to, you might want to skip this post, because I'm leaving nothing out!













Are you still here? I'm totally serious about SPOILING EVERYTHING!!!!


Okay, fine. Let's begin:
First, the right wing has been going into a bit of a lather over this movie. This review and this review give the movie a nice evisceration. And then there were the problems with production and Alan Moore, nicely summarized here. All of these links are from two posts at Avi Green's blog, which is certainly an interesting read even though he often makes me angry (politically, we're almost opposites). The right wing nuts focus on a few things in the movie and get all bent out of shape about them, and I'd like to address those items.

First, the United States. In the movie, the U.S. has collapsed into what we're supposed to believe is a decades-long civil war, prompted by Bush's War on Terror. The United Kingdom has arisen as a power because they turned to brutal fascism to control things, implying that because Americans had freedom to question the government, things fell apart. So the right wing crazies are saying that Wachowskis are anti-American because they inserted this into the movie.

And they're right.

This is a serious miscalculation by the Wachowskis. It adds, quite literally, absolutely nothing to the main story, and it's stupid and un-subtle (not much about the movie is subtle, but this is less so than the rest) and guaranteed to do one thing: make Americans angry. Americans can deal with watching a political satire about a foreign country, especially those uppity Brits. Hell, they might not even get that it's an allegory about Bush's America! By inserting the fate of the U.S. into this movie, the Wachowskis shot themselves in the foot, I think. Right-wing crazies can whine all they want about how Adam Sutler (Adam Susan in the book, played by John Hurt) is obviously George Bush. And left-wing crazies can fire back, "It's only a movie, right-wing crazies!" But by putting America into the book, the level of allegory is lowered into the realm of pedantry, and that gives the right-wing crazies a target.

Then there's the Koran. At one point, Stephen Fry (gay in the movie, but not in the book) takes Natalie Portman down into his basement, where he keeps all sorts of forbidden treasure (that's right - booty!). He is proudly displaying a Koran, and he talks about its beautiful imagery. This exchange takes about five seconds, but the right-wing crazies have latched onto it the way Brad Curran has latched onto Nextwave, and again, they have a point. If Muslims are mentioned in Moore's original (I honestly can't remember), it's only as yet another sub-section of society that is oppressed by the fascists. By singling out the Koran (why not a Catholic Bible, as the dominant Christians in England are very much C. of E.), the Wachowskis are again making pointed and dull-witted commentary about the Bush Administration. And it's not even particularly accurate - Bush may hate Muslims, of course, but I like to think of him in much more Machiavellian terms - he likes anyone that helps him accrue power to himself, and if that means holding hands with Saudi princes, go nuts! What this brief moment in the movie does is give the right-wing crazies who DO hate Islam - and there are plenty of them, and they proudly admit it - more grist for the mill. Guess what, right-wing crazies? You're right - Muslims have been responsible for many horrible crimes in history. Guess what, right-wing crazies? So have Christians. Do you really want to start a tally sheet?

Finally, there's the attack on the elementary school and the water treatment plant. This exists nowhere in the book, and it is completely unnecessary to the story. It's not difficult to believe that a country could slide into fascism, but it's a bit more difficult to believe that they would kill 100,000 of their own citizens to achieve power. Not impossible, mind you, just difficult. By using this idea, the Wachowskis again imply that the Bush Administration would do it, or perhaps has done it. Listen, left-wing crazies: Muslim terrorists killed all those people on September 11th. Yes, George Bush and his government was completely incompetent in stopping it or in finding the mastermind behind it, but he didn't do it. Stuff like this has been done before - anyone remember the Reichstag fire? - but in my opinion, Bush is far too stupid to have masterminded something like this. Actually, the right-wingers I've read defend their boy the same way. They point out that the fascists in the movie are so much more competent than Bush's cronies that the comparison is invalid. That's a good way to defend your boy - he's too stupid to be this evil. That makes me feel better.

So the Wachowskis get a bit ham-fisted at times. They cleave rather closely to the source material, which is why Alan Moore needs to stick his head right up his butt. Listen, I love Alan Moore. I think V For Vendetta is one of the best comics ever written, not only the story and the way it unfolds, but because of the structure and the innovation (no sound effects or internal narration, that sort of thing). Moore has been burned by Hollywood before, and the disinformation that the studio spread about him loving the script was crap, but if this is the script Moore read and called bullshit, then nothing will ever make him happy and he's just turned into some crazy-haired crotchety old man who paints his face blue and rambles on about the good old days - meaning, for him I suppose, the Ice Age, when man was in touch with his primal nature and sacrificed virgins to volcanoes and lived until he was 30. Thank you, but I'll pass. Moore can keep writing comics (or not, if we believe his retirement talk) until he's called back to the mothership, but like a lot of celebrities, he should just shut up. Actually, everyone needs to stop asking him questions, and then maybe he'll shut up. Guess what, Alan? From Hell was a pretty decent movie. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen sucked huge donkey dick, sure, but it's still better than Catwoman or Elektra or Batman & Robin (which is in the running for worst movie of all time) in the pantheon of comic book movies. As for V For Vendetta ... well, this is a great movie.

Yeah, I said it. A. Great. Movie. This is without a doubt the best comic-book movie I've ever seen (granted, I haven't seen Ghost World or A History Of Violence, but I have seen Unbreakable, which up until now was the best comic-book movie ever), and with time, it may become one of my Top Ten (I'd have to think about it). This is the most I've been affected and thrilled by a movie since, I think, Fight Club, which was a long time ago. V For Vendetta is often brilliant, and for most of it, it's completely gripping and enthralling.

That's not to say there aren't problems. The ones I've mentioned above, even though the anti-Americanism and the Koran make up about three minutes of the running time. The idea of the government poisoning its own people is a bit more problematic, but the point is, it's perfectly conceivable within the context of the movie, and more importantly, we can easily find examples of it throughout history. Yes, even here in the glorious United States, although the examples from other countries are probably more numerous. There are some other problems. When we first meet V, he launches into a rather silly speech laced with alliterative uses of "v"-words. It's difficult to understand and goofy, but luckily, he doesn't do it throughout the film. The ending is rather cinematic, sure, but it just doesn't fit very well. V sends Guy Fawkes masks to citizens all over London, and on the night of 5 November, they all come out to the Parliament building wearing them, in a bold show of solidarity with their new hero. I'll get back to that. Portman's British accent isn't horrible, but it's kind of all over the place. And, of course, they had to lose quite a bit from the book, some of which would have been nice to see in it. One of the things we lose that I think hurts a bit is how very pathetic the Leader (Susan or Sutler, take your pick) really is. In the book, he's supposed to be all-powerful, but we see how banal evil can be and how he has done horrible things but he still thinks it's for the good of the country. He can't even see the dissolution around him, and although it doesn't make Susan a sympathetic character, it does make him a comprehensible one. In the movie, John Hurt is seen only once not on a video screen, and he's never a fully realized character. More than one person has made the comparison between Hurt going from playing Winston Smith in 1984 to Adam Sutler in this movie, and I wonder if the filmmakers were consciously trying to draw that comparison with the overbearing and gigantic visage of Sutler dominating his underlings. Maybe, and although I understand why they cut out the parts of the book in which we learn more about Susan and his government, it makes his small arc in the movie less potent. Just a minor thing, I suppose.

Another place the Wachowskis screwed up is with the ending, as I mentioned. It's not that everyone showing up at Parliament with their Guy Fawkes masks on is particularly bad, it's just that it feels like a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" thing. V still dies at the end, which is nice, but has the populace really learned anything, or have they traded their devotion to Adam Sutler for devotion to V? I may be reading too much into it, but I wonder if the Wachowskis are subtly undermining their own message and saying that conformity will triumph over all. I hope not, but that's what it felt like to me. At one point, Stephen Rea (playing Inspector Finch) mentions that V has wrought chaos, which tracks with the book. However, the Wachowskis never allow V to explain his theory of anarchy in the movie, which is what he really wants. They imply that V wants this mass destruction, when what he really wants is people to think for themselves and live together without a government. We can argue the semantics all we want, but it's clear in the book that the chaos is just a prelude to people learning to construct new social forms in which government is unnecessary. We never learn, in the movie, what might come next.

However, I still stand by my conviction that this is a great movie. Portman is excellent, and Hugo Weaving brings V to life with astonishing clarity and vision. Even though I knew it was coming, the scenes when Portman is broken by V and reads Valerie's note are brilliant and heart-wrenching, and speak to the true message of the movie - living your life without fear, and never giving up your integrity. The action is very well done, without most of the theatrics of The Matrix, and it feels like a real time and place. It's only two hours long, but the filmmakers pack a lot into the time. The problems that the right-wing crazies have with the movie are ridiculous, because the parallels are much closer to Nazi Germany than Bush's America. Perhaps the right-wing crazies are so angry about it because they recognize far too many truths in the rise of the British fascists? The movie makes it clear that the people are complicit in their fate, and that Sutler didn't come to power in a vacuum. The populace will watch anything that is spoon-fed to them on television, and when V shows up to stir the pot, it's just another program. The parallels between Stephen Fry as Gordon and V are nicely laid out, as both have underground lairs where they store great works of art. Fry is V without the imprisonment and experimentation, and he stands up to the government in his own way, despite its futility. Right-wingers are also upset about Bishop Lilliman and his pederast ways. Yeah, because in real life priests never sexually abuse people! Maybe it's a cliché that all churchmen in movies have to be perverts, but the point is not that he's Christian, but that's he's powerful. That's the point that right-wing crazies don't want to accept about this movie - that power does corrupt, and it is necessary to take power away from those whom it does corrupt. They can easily point to someone like Bill Clinton, who was quite obviously corrupted by power, but not George Bush. Why are only conservatives immune to the lure of power? What V For Vendetta says is, quite simply, that we must find what defines us, what makes us free human beings, and never let it go. Not in the face of ruin, not in the face of torture, not in the face of death. V becomes free when the people running Larkhill take everything away from him. Evey becomes free when V takes everything away from her. Gordon becomes free when he stops hiding behind his television show and does something meaningful. Valerie becomes free when she stays in England with Ruth instead of fleeing the country. Finch becomes free when he decides that he cares more about justice than the corrupt law. It's a message that we sometimes lose sight of, and this movie helps remind us of this. You can support George Bush all you want, but you can't deny that in the past few decades we have given up more and more of our freedoms to feel safe. I'm complicit in this as much as the next guy. If you don't think we have, try getting on a plane without being searched. Why are you being searched? It's unconstitutional, after all. You're being searched because you want to feel safe. What this movie suggests is that the British people wanted to feel safe, and for the most part, they are. V is a terrorist, yes. The movie doesn't make him quite as insane as the book does, but he's still a terrorist. What we should ask ourselves is, what kind of terrorist is he? Is he a terrorist like the 9/11 terrorists, who flew planes into buildings filled with people who were just trying to live their lives? Is he a terrorist like Herschel Grynszpan, who shot a Nazi in Paris in 1938 and ignited Kristallnacht? Is he a terrorist like Samuel Adams, who published outright lies about British troop abuses in order to spur the colonists into revolution? The movie wants us to ask these kind of questions - is he a terrorist or freedom fighter? Right-wing crazies, apparently, want to tell you what he is. Another big deal made about this movie is the destruction of Parliament - it's too close a parallel to the World Trade Center. Even Roger Ebert, who liked the movie, is disturbed by it. As V points out in the movie, a building is just a symbol, and sometimes symbols need to be destroyed. This is actually a subtle shout-out to the American people (not the American government, mind you) - the British people are unconcerned with the destruction of their national symbol, because they are more concerned with making a better world, just as the American people were not crippled by the loss of two buildings, but simply got back to work making their lives better. V For Vendetta makes the point that they're only buildings - beautiful and historical buildings, to be sure, but they're not more important than the people.

Right-wing crazies will no doubt wonder why Hollywood doesn't make a movie showing a Muslim government driven to excess and totalitarianism. Why doesn't Alan Moore (or another comic book writer) write something like that? Well, Frank Miller seems well on his way to doing that, but one of the reasons why I think both Moore and the filmmakers choose to make something familiar totalitarian is because of that - the familiarity. It's easy to write a Muslim regime as becoming intransigent and oppressive - just do a documentary on Saddam's Iraq or Khomeini's Iran. What a movie like V For Vendetta does is show us that it could easily happen anywhere. Too easily, in fact. Berlin in the 1920s was a pretty Bohemian place, full of those strange queers and artsy types and probably a bunch o' Commies. I wonder if the conservative section of the blogosphere had been around back then, they would have called for someone to come in and clean up the joint! Okay, that was a cheap shot, but my point is, this rather liberal environment wasn't enough to stop the Nazis from taking over in a very short time. It COULD happen here, and it's a question of whether we will allow it or not. V For Vendetta simply posits a place where it has happened, and it shows us that it doesn't really need much to happen. That's why both the book and the movie fall slightly short - Moore points out in his late-1980s introduction that he no longer believes a nuclear war is needed to push Britain toward fascism, while the movie overdoes it with its viral threats. But that's a minor point.

Right-wing crazies are ignoring the beautiful message of the movie, personified by Evey. V is and always will be a cipher, but Portman's performance holds the movie together and shows us how we can overcome the terrors we face in life. She runs from V more than once - at the very beginning, when it's perfectly plausible, and twice more. However, when V commandeers the television station to tell the people of London what he's doing, Evey saves him from Dominic, the policeman, by macing him and getting knocked unconscious for her efforts. Her true epiphany comes later, but this small act of rebellion shows us that even an all-powerful government cannot break its people's spirit completely. Anyone who's read the book will know that Evey flees when V kills the bishop, and she seeks shelter with Gordon. This false security comes to a violent end, but it's interesting that even after Evey has begun to learn a bit about V and about what the government is doing, she still runs. She turns away because she doesn't want to confront her complicity and the crimes that the government has committed. Even with what she knows about the fate of her parents, it's safer to run and hide. When this is no longer an option, she finds Valerie's note and refuses to betray V. This frees her, and it allows her to flee from V a third time, this time to discover herself on her own. V can't do it for her, and this is why Evey's story is the heart of the movie, and why the ending is a bit of a disappointment. Everyone in London, it is implied, needs to go through a transformation like Evey's, but it seems like the filmmakers don't follow through on that. It doesn't change the fact that Evey is the pulse of the movie, and Portman's wonderful performance carries us through.

This is an excellent movie, one that does more than most movies in that it challenges us to believe in something and to think more clearly about our lives and what we are doing with them. It also shows (to bring it back to comics, since that is our mission here) the power of comic books. The most obvious comparison to the original book is Orwell's 1984, and it's interesting when you read both how much more vivid V For Vendetta is, because of its graphic nature. 1984 is a masterpiece, but it's not always clear exactly what London looks like. Comics are a wonderful medium for expressing these sorts of ideas, because we're more inclined to believe in fantastic worlds when we read comics. Therefore, a "hero" like V doesn't seem so out of place. This allows comics to challenge the status quo and ask questions that might seem ridiculous in mainstream fiction and also offer solutions that might seem forced in mainstream fiction. It will be interesting to see if people actually seek out the original graphic novel after seeing this. I doubt it, but if they do, they'll be in for a treat.

V For Vendetta certainly isn't the perfect movie. It is, however, a great movie. Not for its somewhat corny anti-Americanism or paranoia, but for its heart and its belief that people are always better than they seem to be. All they have to do is prove it.

(I stole some of these pictures from Nik, because I can. Thanks, Nik!)

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80 Comments:

Blogger Queen of Sheba said...

Hear, hear--the anti-Bush, Muslim-inserting stuff was heavy-handed, and the stupid crowd of Fawkses (or V's) was misguided at best. But it was a brilliant comic-book movie with some flaws, not an egregiously awful one (Electra) or even a fun but campy and insubstantial one (Hellboy). Finally!

3/20/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Melanism said...

I thought the movie was good not great (3 stars). I totally agree with your point about the Wachowski Siblings throwing in that dig to the state of America in the movie. It was unnecessary.

My biggest problem is the movie is supposed to take place over a year's time and yet they did not pass the time well. Like Stephen Rea was pretty much wearing the same suit the entire movie. It took place over a year and it felt like 3 weeks had passed. You never knew how long V imprisioned Evey or how long it was since he last saw her or how the public was growing more and more restles aside from the day they all received their Guy Fawkes masks.

After Evey leaves V, it feels like movie runs in place.

I find it a bit strange that you can dislike all that you disliked and yet call it an "excellent" movie because your quibbles aren't minor.

3/20/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger drphunk said...

I loved the film. I read the book years ago and I can't fault the adaption. I love Alan Moore but he isn't always right.

Good blog too, by the was

3/20/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

"In the movie, the U.S. has collapsed into what we're supposed to believe is a decades-long civil war, prompted by Bush's War on Terror. The United Kingdom has arisen as a power because they turned to brutal fascism to control things, implying that because Americans had freedom to question the government, things fell apart. So the right wing crazies are saying that Wachowskis are anti-American because they inserted this into the movie."

I don't think that's what's going on at all. Bear in mind that the only information we have about the state of the US in the movie comes from the state-run media, and that we have absolutely no reason to think its reporting on the US is any more accurate than the report on what happened to the Old Bailey. From what we've seen, the US is used as a boogeyman, a warning of how bad it could be if everyone doesn't toe the line.

3/20/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger ChristopherAllen said...

Most people who have read the book would say that the change to the Susan/Sutler character is more than a minor quibble, but I guess what really ruined your review for me was the idea that just because you really liked the movie, Alan Moore is crazy for objecting to the script and should shove his head up his ass. Is that a reasonable response to someone else's opinion, especially if that someone is actually the writer of the source material for this movie? Also, it's really silly to criticize Moore for not making the oppressive regime that of Islamic fundamentalism. V was written in the early '80s largely as a response to the fascism of soon-to-be British PM Margaret Thatcher, who Moore didn't even think would be elected because of her extreme views, and then he found V to be somewhat self-fulfilling, in a bad way. It was written to take place in Britain very intentionally, and Islamic fundamentalism just doesn't fit there, nor would even a well-read man like Moore probably have known much about it at that time.

3/20/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

I have had a problem with V for Vendetta since I read it because (Spoiler Alert, I guess, but the entire movie review was one big spoiler) of the way V treats Evey. I hate, hate, hate that he resorted to torture and brainwashing to make Evey "free." Granted, V is not a hero, and I never considered him such, but his actions, and Evey's response, took me right out of the story.

Instead of walking out in the rain to celebrate freedom, I wanted Evey to get away from V, to realize how she'd been violated, and to carve her own path. The story wouldn't have happened if she had, I realize, but I didn't want her to become like V.

What happens after V tortures Evey? She falls in line with him, carries his plans to fruition, and takes his place. She has "freedom," but uses it to follow V. Is that freedom? Or has she been brainwashed?

Maybe V's actions are meant to be examined in multiple lights. Maybe one of Moore's points was V's actions weren't really right either. All I know is V for Vendetta is not my favorite Alan Moore story, due to V's treatment of Evey.

I'm curious about the movie, but not chomping at the bit to see it.

"Ghost World"- my very favorite comic book adaptation. If you've read the graphic novel, see the movie. You get an almost entirely different story that's just as good as the original.

3/20/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Jer said...

"Finally, there's the attack on the elementary school and the water treatment plant. This exists nowhere in the book, and it is completely unnecessary to the story."

I actually saw this as an "attack" on the "left-wing crazies" that you shout out to in the review - nowhere do we have ANY indication that the government truly did this. In fact, its strongly implied that V was completely LYING to Finch to get him in place to watch Creedy, and to make Creedy paranoid enough to turn Sutler over to him. Finch was ready to believe it, because he was ready to believe the worst about the power structure at that point, and V knew that SOMEONE would be there to take the bait eventually, and if playing on Finch's fears of his own Party worked, then that was what he was going to do. At first I also thought this was pointlessly unneccessary, but the more I thought it over, the more I actually like it.

As for the US collapsing into Civil War, well, I dunno. You'd have to somehow explain why the US wasn't there to help out. In the original story, it was atomic war with the Soviets that destroyed the US, but that doesn't sound believable anymore. I also took it with a huge grain of salt that the US had collapsed because they weren't United - that sounds like propoganda from a government that wouldn't like their people to rise up against them. It could have been handled a little more deftly, but I didn't see it as anti-American at all.

The Koran scene with Gordon, well, whatever. If people want to harp on that scene and not on the fact that HE WAS KILLED FOR OWNING A GODDAMN BOOK, then they're a lost cause anyway. V, if we are to believe him, explicitly points out that Gordon would have gotten away with imprisonment if they hadn't found a Koran in his basement (and, by implication, artwork that was considered either indecent or treasonous). He was killed for his library and his artwork more than he was for broadcasting his spoof of the Chancellor.

The thematic shift away from "anarchism vs. fascism" and to "democracy vs. fascism" makes the movie much more black and white than the comic book its derived from. V is less a monster in the movie, more of a hero (though still a monster underneath). Ironically, as I pointed out elsewhere, the government of Britain also comes across as less monstrous than in the book - they don't need to be so bad in order for V to look "good". I think its a simplification, and "democracy vs. fascism" is a much easier argument to make, but I can understand why you'd go that route for a mass-market movie audience.

In fact, most of the changes they made give a better movie than if they'd followed the book exactly, with the exception of the insertion of the "love story" angle. V cannot find redemption in love, and in either version, I have trouble believing that he can even feel love. What they did to him tore out his soul and ripped him apart emotionally - twisted him around to the point where he could think that torturing and imprisoning Evey for months was doing what was best for her. Putting that bit in at the end almost undermined part of the point - that V cannot be redeemed any more than the government that created him could be redeemed - he cannot exist without the government and his Vendetta against it, the only emotion that they have left him with is his desire for payback. His feelings for Evey make him human, something that he shouldn't be seen as at all - he's a monster, just one that knows that he can't live in the society he's trying to build.

All in all, though, despite the addition of the spurious "love story" bit, it was a very good adaptation. I look forward to owning it on DVD and watching it again to pick up on some of the more subtle bits.

3/20/2006 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Jer said...

mike loughlin -

If that part of the story upset you, you'll probably like the resolution of the "Evey being imprisoned and tortured" part of the plot in the movie more. I think the anger once she finds out is more real than in the comic - Natalie Portman puts in a great performance - and she reacts in a way that is more appropriate to someone who has just discovered that they really have nothing left to be afraid of than the way Evey reacts in the book.

I, also, have always had a problem with that scene in the book. There was no way to tell if Evey had really finally decided to "be her own woman" or if she just had a really bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. Even at the end, you can't really tell if she takes up the mantle because she's doing it of her own free will, or because she's basically been brainwashed. I know what Moore's point was (I think), but it doesn't come across well. The movie handles this much, much better in my opinion, though I'm sure some will argue it. (And this bit makes up for the "love story" angle that I railed about above in some ways).

3/20/2006 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

To the points: the minor quibbles were, to me, minor, partly because I agreed with the sentiment if not the execution (I'm a horrible liberal, after all) and the fact that it took up such little screen time. The anti-Americanism and the presence of the Koran were such a minor part of the story that I could just move on, plus the good stuff was so very good that it overwhelmed the bad. The masks at the end were, I agree misguided, but in a cinematic way, they had a nice impact, and it's something to debate, not something to completely dismiss, so therefore it didn't destroy my enjoyment.

As for the news about America, that's a good point, Chris. I hadn't thought of that.

Mike - that's your choice, of course, and I don't really LOVE V's treatment of Evey, but I don't disagree with it. We're all so comfortable in our lives that we really don't know what will break us, and Evey was living a lie anyway. It's like going cold turkey - she was addicted to the lies, and V didn't have time to send her to rehab. And I think we're supposed to wonder about Evey's actions, as well as everyone else's. Have they simply replaced the Leader with a new one?

As for you, Christopher - in the context of the movie and the fact that they pretty much had to ditch all the internal politicking, the change to Adam Susan/Sutler is fine. I would have liked to see more of the rift within the government, but that would have been a much longer movie, and it may not have worked. It's tough to try to give so many people screen time and not make some of them stereotypes, and if they were going to do it with a character, better him than, say, Finch.

As for my problems with Alan Moore - it's not that he's not entitled to his opinion, I just wonder what his objections are to the script as it exists now. Maybe he saw an early script that WAS bad, but this seems like a very good adaptation of what he was trying to do. Like I said, he might object to the way DC and the filmmakers used him, but I can't imagine his objections to the movie itself. He might not like it, sure, but they didn't butcher it like they did LoEG. I just wonder exactly what his problem is. If I knew, maybe I would understand better. And I wasn't criticizing Moore for making this a fascist Britain - I agree with his use of the Thatcher government as a template. That's why it bugs me when right-wing crazies say stuff like "Where's the bad Muslim government?" This book was in direct response to a situation in his own country. Salman Rushdie writes about military dictatorships in Pakistan. To ask either of them to do differently would be stupid.

3/20/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

More good points! That's true, Jer, I hadn't thought of it.

I didn't bring up the love story angle because I didn't believe V when he said he loved her, and other than that, there's no indication that it's a two-sided thing. He still leaves her to face his doom, after all. If Evey wants to project onto him, I don't have a problem with that, because it's implied in the book as well.

Other than that, I have nothing to add, because you make very good points.

3/20/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Seitz said...

I enjoyed the movie but wished A) they'd stuck closer to the book and B) dumped the stuff you complained about. I know WHY they did it, because the threat of nuclear war is no longer so pressing, BUT a viral attack that Britain wasn't involved in would have done the job nicely.

And Moore was right to disown it; it's amazing how much they incorporate but it's held back by the hamfistedness.

Still, I know of no less than three people who bought the book after seeing the movie, so I can't be too harsh.

3/20/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Melanism said...

An aspect from the book that I missed was the ambiguity of V's identity. I liked thinking that V could have been Sharon or Valerie or Evey's mother...

3/20/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't mind the ending bit with the crowd all wearing V masks, because I assumed it was meant to act more as metaphor (that V (the person who can bring down a government)can be anyone), rather than literal/factual. Otherwise it's kind of odd that the rioters include dead characters.

-nico

3/20/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Edward Liu said...

Random thought about the question of whether Evey becomes truly free or is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. The question involved is kind of like the problem that faces any philosophical system that promises "freedom" for its adherents. There are lots of belief systems that essentially say, "You can be free. As long as you do exactly as I say."

The one bit that keeps me from thinking that Evey is just Patty Hearst in a Guy Fawkes mask is that she makes it clear to V after the incident with the priest that she won't kill anybody ever again, and lives up to that promise (although one can start asking whether one can ever be certain that a train packed with explosives will be non-lethal, but I'm going to deliberately ignore that as an inconvenient piffle because it undermines my argument). That's her "inch" that she won't give up to anybody, including V, and that's the proof to me that she really has learned the lesson he sought to impart to her, even though she seems to be following in his footsteps for the rest of the book.

The irony is that Moore has accepted this lesson of freedom on one level, by allowing anybody to make a film out of one of his comics, while also rejecting it firmly and thoroughly by being so petulant and absurdly principled when people deviate from his words.

3/20/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Bryan-Mitchell said...

I posted this over at Aint It Cool News Friday:

I just got back from seeing it and as a long time Alan Moore fan, I am not sure how I feel about it. For those that have said that this is a Wachowski Bros. film, you can tell that they didn't direct it. Throughout I was shocked at how clumsy and pedestrian the direction was. The film made it through on the strength of the source material and Hugo Weaving alone. Left to weaker stuff, McTeigue would have killed it with his lame, by the numbers directing. The middle bit where V goes to talk to the cop just about ruined the film for me. It was pure Hollywood spoon-feeding the audience and connecting the dots for them. That segment and the segment of the masks being delivered should have been left out. At that point I was expecting the worst with a Hollywood cop-out built up to the end. However, after that, it got better. I am suprised that they didn't change the basic premice of Evy's emprisionment since that makes V pretty hard to forgive. Finally, the very end with the removal of the masks was lame as was Evy's last lines. When asked who V was, there were many better things that she could have said. It would have been nice had she gone back to V's first lines and said something about the fact that it didn't matter who he was, but what was important is what he is.

3/20/2006 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anun says:

I don't think Alan Moore needs to stick his head up his butt and love this movie. You've nailed all the reasons I had quibbles with the movie, and since the themes are argueably the most important parts of the book, changing them weakens any sort of point they tried to make. I feel they soft-pedaled where they shouldn't, got too heavy-handed in other places that didn't need it, and took away a lot of the people's responsibility for givng Norsefire its rise to power by making it one big conspiracy theory.

I think it was a better-than-average action movie, but I think Alan Moore, if he sees it ever, will have reason to continue to disavow himself from it.

3/20/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Right wing crazies" Hah.

I liked V for Vendetta. As a stylistic, visual artform, it was a masterpiece. As a political commentary, it sucked donkey balls and reinforced how paranoid and out of touch lefties are, as well as how delusional their sense of paranoia and self-persecution has left them. I love how all the people complaining on this blog about the poor Muslims that will be unfairly slandered by Frank Miller's Batman book have not shown up to stick up for the portrayal of Christians in this movie. I won't hold my breath for that to happen. But here's a word of advice: if Muslims want to no longer be considered a religion of murder, a good start would be to stop killing people. Just a thought.

And as far as this part here:

"Guess what, right-wing crazies? You're right - Muslims have been responsible for many horrible crimes in history. Guess what, right-wing crazies? So have Christians. Do you really want to start a tally sheet?"

Are you serious here? There really is no comparison and yes, I do want to start a tally sheet. I hate when liberals in their quest for moral relativism try to force equivalencies where there are none. We don't oppress women or make them cover up their bodies. We don't legally beat and rape them in the streets. We don't preach the murder of nonbelievers of Christ. We constantly reform our religion and modernize it? WHo is the Islamic Martin Luther that has brought Islam into modern times? Can you name one? The catholic church has publicly apologized for its role in slavery, in antisemitism and has officially reversed its views on the Jews role in the death of Christ. It's a self-correcting religion that has done much good worldwide. Muslims still won't apologize for last years beheadings.

Give me a break, bro.

3/20/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

"There really is no comparison and yes, I do want to start a tally sheet."

No, you really don't, because the atrocities committed by Christianty outnumber those of any other religion on the planet. Only communism and fascism have piled up more corpses.

As for the movie being unsubtle, the original comic is an incredibly unsubtle hit piece on Thatcherism. I don't feel it's wrong to update a story if you can do so while keeping the original text intact. Nor is criticism of the American government "anti-American"; this country's government has never been synonymous with the country itself, thank Christ.

3/20/2006 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"No, you really don't, because the atrocities committed by Christianty outnumber those of any other religion on the planet. Only communism and fascism have piled up more corpses."

Give me a fucking break. "Only" communism and fascism have piled up more corpses? Well guess what? Communism and fascism are both secular, they place the government above everything, including religion and the family. Fascism and communism both believe that anything that threatens the supremacy of government is intolerable, which is why religion is usually one of the first things undermined by communist and fascist government. If there is power allowed to be higher than the government, in this case God, then that means that the government leader's judgment isn't final and can be questioned if it doesn't jibe with God's word.

So by saying that only fascism and communism are the only things worse than Christianity, your saying by your own admission that the lack of religion is even worse.

But what you fail to note is that many evils performed by Christianity are outweighed by the goods inspired by Christianity. Three of the biggest forces that toppled communism were Thatcher, Reagan and John Paul II. Liberals did nothing but accuse Reagan of bringing about the end of the world. Christianity has brought human rights to untold regions. I'll go as far as to say that British colonialism has improved just about every region it has touched.

So go ahead with your tally sheet. I'm willing to bet that if faced with the choice of American imperialism and Islamic imperialism, every one of you Islam-defender/America-bashers would choose the former. As much as you guys try to paint Islam and Christianity as flip sides of the same coin, you guys have seen how something as simple as cartoons caused widespread destruction by Muslims in Europe. Meanwhile V for Vendetta has a much higher profile and is much harsher to Christians and yet nothing is burning, is it?

3/20/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks, Lungfish, because I was going to say it. Whenever the evils of Islam versus Christianity are mentioned, we go back, what, 50 years? I was talking about the entire history, and the Catholics aren't the only offenders. I'm totally not letting Islam off the hook, and as I mentioned, that was an unnecessary part of the movie, but neither religion has a good track record. As for "self-correcting," I'll believe that when Benedict starts preaching condoms in sub-Saharan Africa. Yes, Christianity has done a lot of good throughout the world, but so has Islam. Christianity has done a lot of evil throughout the world, and so has Islam.

As for the anti-Christian attitude of the movie, there is ONE real "Christian" in the movie, Bishop Lilliman. As I mentioned, I think he's more a symbol of the corruption of power rather than the corruption of Christianity. Hitler was very careful to keep the Catholic Church on his side, but I doubt if anyone will defend his version of Christianity. Sure, it would have been nice to see some positive portrayals of Christians, but that gets into a slide into showing both sides of everything, and that's not what this movie is about.

I knew you would enjoy "right-wing crazies," T.! I would ask you just what I wanted to know from other conservatives: if this movie is made in a "historical" sense, with V a valiant Jew who fights alone against Hitler, are conservatives still angry with it? I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know. That's what I love about the movie and also what I think right-wing crazies are missing - despite what you see as paranoia and self-delusion (which you can make a case for), this movie, more than most, asks exactly where we draw the line between revolutionary and terrorist. And, despite V being the obvious "hero," it doesn't give us easy answers. That's why it's great art.

To start a tally sheet: Arian persecution, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Albigensian Crusade, persecution OF Anabaptists, persecution BY Anabaptists, Jewish pogroms, destruction of Andalusian culture, persecution of Mormons, lynchings of Southern blacks ... And yes, the Muslim list is long, too. I didn't mean that the Christian one would be longer, I meant that neither pot should call the other black.

3/20/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

"Communism and fascism are both secular, they place the government above everything, including religion and the family."

This is why I said Christianity has a body count higher than any other religion. That's not an opinion; that's a fact. Ranking it among ideologies, it's beaten out by secular totalitarianism (i.e., fascism and communism). Which is exactly what I wrote.

As for the debate on whether or not Chrisitanity - or religion in general - has inspired more good than evil, religious good adheres to a notion of purity-based morality, and purity-based morality is invariably arbitrary. Sometimes it can do great good; sometimes it causes or perpetuates monstrous evil. Even relatively innocuous-seeming tenets, like purity-based stigmas against premarital sex, have lead to abominations like Focus on the Family's recent campaign against a program to vaccinate girls against a virus that causes cervical cancer. Why are they doing this? Because James Dobson thinks that if girls aren't scared of getting cancer, they might have more sex. This isn't even touching on the influence of Calvinism and its "screw the poor" ethos in America, or the Catholic Church's long and bloody history.

You say that "Christianity has brought human rights to untold regions." That's crap. The enlightenment introduced the concept of universal human rights, and that was done by a bunch of deists, skeptics, and atheists. The Church found the notion of any rights that didn't stem from God - and weren't defined by them - to be offensive, and spent that time allying itself with dictators and issuing encyclicals proclaiming human rights and democracy to be examples of the evils of modernization. Christianity didn't start putting on its friendlier, more modern face until the late nineteenth-to-mid-twentieth centuries, and even now there's a large flank of extremists who have more or less rejected those attempts at reform.

3/20/2006 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points T. I think what people tend to forget when speaking about the "evils" of Christianity are:

What's the extent of "Christian Extremism" in the world today? Jerry Falwell on TV saying people should get cancer. "Moral" censorship of the media. Both are annoying, but compared to "Islam Extremism" in the world today (terrorist bombings, lack of any sort of rights for women, death to anyone who does not agree with their agenda). Yep, I'd say that Falwell wishing cancer on people and is a bit less terrible than beheadings and denying any sort of rights to women.)

3/20/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"To start a tally sheet: Arian persecution, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Albigensian Crusade, persecution OF Anabaptists, persecution BY Anabaptists, Jewish pogroms, destruction of Andalusian culture, persecution of Mormons, lynchings of Southern blacks ... "

Good start.

Now explore this site and scroll down to the table.

More fun facts:

* More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.

* Islamic terrorists murder more people every day than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years.

* More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

* 19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals put to death in the last 65 years.

* In just the month of March islamic extremists have already killed 710 people, mostly civilians, and injured 851. An itemized list appears in the link I provided. Keep in mind that only 20 days have happened in March so far.

* Most of the actions taken by Muslims are done by followers following the articles of their faith to the letter (read what the Koran says about dealing with nonbelievers). Most of the atrocities done by Christians are committed by followers ignoring the teachings of the New Testament.

3/20/2006 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"What's the extent of "Christian Extremism" in the world today? Jerry Falwell on TV saying people should get cancer. "Moral" censorship of the media. Both are annoying, but compared to "Islam Extremism" in the world today (terrorist bombings, lack of any sort of rights for women, death to anyone who does not agree with their agenda). Yep, I'd say that Falwell wishing cancer on people and is a bit less terrible than beheadings and denying any sort of rights to women.) "

WHat are you saying anonymous? You are obviously a racist right-wing nut to say that Christianity isn't the most inhumane religion on the face of the planet.

I'd love to see a Western filmmaker have the guts to portray a Muslim negatively on celluloid...oh wait, that happened in the Netherlands. A muslim extremist killed him. My bad. Well since Christianity is just as bad as Islam, I guess we'll hear about a Christian killing the Wachowskis any day now right? Right?

3/20/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Yes, Christianity has done a lot of good throughout the world, but so has Islam."

Since you started a tally sheet of evil done by Christianity and I responded, let's now do a tally sheet of the good acts done by each religion.

Here's my list for Christianity:
emancipation of slaves, prevention of cruelty to animals, equality of all before the law, equal rights for women, protection of children, Boys and Girl club, YMCA, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and let's not even get into what churches raise for countries internationally each year, including the Muslim survivors of the tsunami. You can point out that Christians have acted contrary toward these Christian virtues throughout history, but the fact remains that Christians have raised the first banners of these noble causes.

The same is true of science. Christianity may be mocked as superstition, but in reality everything in human history except for the Judeo-Christian tradition is superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Science, as we know it, was exclusively invented by Christians. Aside from a few ancient Greeks - notably Pythagoras and Archimedes - science as an explanation for reality did not exist among ancients.

Islam had a smattering of mathematical geniuses, but no great physical scientists at all. India and China were vastly wealthier and more ancient than Europe, but science simply did not exist in either of these ancient civilizations. The Amerindian societies of the Inca and Maya both achieved prodigious technological feats, but no science. Modern science arose exclusively out of Christian and not out of Judeo-Christian tradition. The mockery often made of medieval reaction to Galileo and Copernicus has produced a legend of intolerant Christians.

Galileo, Copernicus, Pascal, and Napier were all orthodox and serious Christians. Newton and Kepler were nominal Christians who were deeply concerned about religion. These men created science as we know it.

The complete domination of science by Christians continued through the Middle Ages and well into the modern era. James Clerk Maxwell, arguably a greater scientific genius than either Newton or Einstein, was a profoundly serious Christian. Lord Kelvin, to whom we owe the law of entropy, chaos theory, the finite limits of thermodynamic activity (absolute zero), and most of the principles of thermodynamics, was equally pious.

The immense and dramatic contribution of later Jewish scientists - Michaelson, Einstein, Bohr, Pauli and many others - did not come until long after Christians had created modern science. Medieval Judaism, like Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism and every other metaphysical system except Christianity, was hostile to science.

Christians participated in anti-Semitism, but Christians are also the first non-Jews to explicitly make anti-Semitism a vice and apologize for the anti-semetism of the past, and this happened very early in the history of the Christian church - and Christophobia has been as serious a vice as anti-Semitism. Both are reprehensible, and both had been the vices of men born as Christians or born as Jews.

The horror of the Holocaust was committed by men who were born Christians, but rejection of Christianity and profession of agnosticism was a requirement for joining the Schutzstaffel and Nazism despised Christianity intensely.

And as bad as some of the atrocities of Christianity has been, Iron Lungfish has pointed out how much more reprehensible human behavior can be when man rejects Christianity, as evidenced by Communism and Fascism. For more information about this, read here.

The world is familiar with names like Himmler, Heydrich and Eichmann, heretics to Christianity, but the world seldom hears the names Yagoda, Kaganovich or Beria, democidal monsters and mass torturers of millions in the Soviet Union and traitors to Judaism and to the Jewish people. Both of those groups of names represent grotesque exceptions to the traditions of Christianity and Judaism. It is as wrong to place Himmler beside a cross is it is to wrap Yagoda beside a menorah.

(Thanks to Bruce Kaplan for some of the above-researched facts)

No matter how you try to spin it, Christianity is not the beast liberals often try to make it out to be.

All other religions, despite their bloody past are now only concerned with personal piety and spiritual development of their followers. Some of them also get involved in works of charity like Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, etc. But Muslims are the only group that still thinks of Jihad, and expansion of their religion through violent means. Muslims are the only group that believes their god has given them the mission to kill those who reject him. Muslims are the only group that still endeavors to impose the antiquated misogynistic laws of their “holy” book. And Muslims are the only group that has not apologized for the crimes of their past and keeps committing those crimes even today.

Let's face it all religions have had bad and bloody pasts, but for the rest of the other religions those bridges have been burned and society has progressed, and no longer killing based on differences (in advanced societies). Let's not even get into THE ENORMOUS jihads which have occured in all Islamic history, the worst being in India where almost 1 million was reported to be killed in one day alone in the 13th century. Google muslim atrocities in India and get back to me.

Simple truth is, to me most liberal condemnations of Christianity are just knee-jerk reactions of cynical adolescents striving to cast off the bonds of their putatively oppressive upbringing. It's their way of working out their parent issues.

3/20/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"I knew you would enjoy "right-wing crazies," T.! I would ask you just what I wanted to know from other conservatives: if this movie is made in a "historical" sense, with V a valiant Jew who fights alone against Hitler, are conservatives still angry with it? I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know. That's what I love about the movie and also what I think right-wing crazies are missing - despite what you see as paranoia and self-delusion (which you can make a case for), this movie, more than most, asks exactly where we draw the line between revolutionary and terrorist. And, despite V being the obvious "hero," it doesn't give us easy answers. That's why it's great art."

Okay, if it was about a Jew fighting Nazis I would not have a problem with its politics. Why? because I don't believe in moral relativism and the need to see everything in greys. Some things are simply more evil than others. Nazis and Islamofascists are more evil than Americans and the British, end of story. Sure, to some it would seem opposite, but those people are just wrong.

I actually enjoy the movie as slick, hyperkinetic fun art, but as political commentary it's simple-minded and feeble. How can it attack the evils that movements inflict on citizens when it glazes over Islamic terrorism as an afterthought then chooses to dwell on the war against terrorism as a greater evil that ruins the world? Does it bother to ever address what happened to the terrorists that started the chain of events in question? No! It's too busy painting Bush as a bigger evil. The only explicit mention of Muslims I remember is the mention of a few that were unfairly scapegoated for something or other.

And I argue that for all the intolerance the Wachowskis claim the West is responsible for, they'd never have the balls to malign peaceful Islam in a movie because deep down they know they'd get fucking KILLED. Literally. Actually, the unfairly persecuted Islamofascists would kill one of them just based on being American and transgendered alone.

3/20/2006 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger McK3000 said...

"And I argue that for all the intolerance the Wachowskis claim the West is responsible for, they'd never have the balls to malign peaceful Islam in a movie because deep down they know they'd get fucking KILLED. Literally. Actually, the unfairly persecuted Islamofascists would kill one of them just based on being American and transgendered alone."

Sadly true. Yet in the film the Qu'ran was the "beautiful" text that the evil British Christians wanted to destroy. Of course, if the art department decided to put a picture of Mohammad on the cover of the Qu'ran, WATCH THE F*** OUT! We'd have rioting in the streets in Egypt and people would get killed.

I never understood the defense of the Islamic religion that "Christianity is just as bad, if not worse!" That is A) not true in today's world and B) a terrible, terrible arugment. If your son/daughter was sent home from school for causing trouble and used the arugment "But Tommy in my class is just as bad, if not worse!" you'd slap your child upside the head... I hope.

The WORST part is that this debate should not even be happening, because in NO PART of Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" was Islamic fundamentalism EVER alluded to. And it definitely existed in 1982 and will continue to exist as long as ultra-liberals keep labeling the West as "evil imperials" for wanting to put an end to needless death in the name of religion.

Needlessly "updating" the work will do nothing but make the film seem dated in the future, and we'll lounge with a bowl of popcorn and smirk at how ridiculous it all sounds in 2016. Sure, the graphic novel is dated already, but there's nothing wrong with keeping a "dated" piece of literature in its proper contemporary setting. It still works for Shakespeare.

3/21/2006 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the lack of attention on the anarchy stuff is just an issue of changing times. Anarchy as a philosopy just doesn't have much credibility now, or cultural resonance. Maybe it did in the early 80s, but not now.

Re: the US civil war, I didn't interpret that the same way as you did at all. It really didn't register, frankly.

Re: Islam, and the insertion of the US into the story, I think that was a good idea, actually, as it makes the story rather more relevant and current. It's 2006, what'd the point be in making a movie of circa-1981 post-punk anarchists versus allegedly-fascsist Thatcherites?

(Note that Moore himself didn't bother writing a story around the politics of the early 60s, he was responding to current events.)

It's like taking out the bit where Finch drops acid to get his epiphany. LSD is hokey, and it would just look stupid. You don't need acid to have an epiphany. This is another thing that probably looked edgy in 1981, but looks very different in 2006 when you can't watch ten minutes of TV without seeing a commercial for a psychoactive drug.

As far as right winger complaints go, they wouldn't care if it was set in Iran, or North Korea. And needless to say they'd be ecstatic if real-life V's turned up in those places.

I think their problem is that they see themselves in the fascist government in the film. It cuts too close. They know they back an authoritarian regime in the US, which tortures and has no respect for rule of law or civil rights.

3/21/2006 03:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Jon H said...

mck3000 writes: "I never understood the defense of the Islamic religion that "Christianity is just as bad, if not worse!""

It's pretty clear you don't understand much about anything.

3/21/2006 03:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what? Now you're pissing me off, T. You think Christianity invented science -- oh yeah, except for "a few ancient Greeks" -- say, nice of you to throw 'em a bone, you ungrateful lout -- invented compassion, freed the slaves, gave women the vote, put the safety of children and animals on the radar, and ...fuck, am I missing anything? Oh yeah, brought down the Berlin Wall, created the concept of the rule of law and equality before it, invented the despising of anti-Semitism...gee, this Christianity guy sure gets around, doesn't he? Hey, don't forget the printing press, Christianity invented that too, right? Right about the time Christianity built the flippin' Pyramids...

What utterly transparent horseshit, T. Really, who the hell do you think you're fooling with this self-righteous crap? You know what I notice about your list of Christianity's bad deeds? There's nothing on it. And, about your list of its good deeds? There's nothing that isn't on it. Wow, how amazing! The facts practically speak for themselves! So I guess you showed all us woolly-headed liberals, din'tcha?

Or, you know, not. Tell you what, next time you want to bring some proof to the table, try making it actual proof, not this fundamentalist fan-fiction you've cooked up.

And by the way, I think it may be just the tiniest bit unseemly to be talking about how all Christianity's "good" acts balance out their bad ones, when you're the one who's received the benefit of that so-called (by you!) balance. Do you think you'd feel it was all so neat and tidy and justifiable if you were on the other side of that equation? "Hey, all my relatives are dead, but look at the good that came out of it!" Thoughtful of you to grant forgiveness to Christianity on behalf of all those who aren't alive to do so...but, it's probably unnecessary, because as we all know it's the making of the apology that counts, not the accepting of it. Right? I mean that's just noblesse oblige.

I found your tirade offensive, by the end there. Did you get that? I mean did you really, really get it?

GOOD!

3/21/2006 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Since you started a tally sheet of evil done by Christianity and I responded, let's now do a tally sheet of the good acts done by each religion.

Here's my list for Christianity:
emancipation of slaves, prevention of cruelty to animals, equality of all before the law, equal rights for women, protection of children, Boys and Girl club, YMCA, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and let's not even get into what churches raise for countries internationally each year, including the Muslim survivors of the tsunami.


ah, you americans are funny people!

3/21/2006 06:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Zard said...

Good posts, T.

3/21/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Bastarður Víkinga said...

Muslims have plenty of nice in their resumees. Heck, back in the old days Islam was the softer, nicer cousin to christianity. Christians were allowed to live in peace in Muslim societies, but Muslims were burned at the stake if they entered Christian lands. Now it's the reverse.

Christianity ain't evil and neither is Islam. Now, radical fundementalists most definately are.

Islam has been taken over by dangerous radicals. Christianity used to be. What the bleedin' liberals are so afraid of isn't christianity, but that fundimentalists take over. They are afraid of the U.S. going back to Old School Christianity.

(And so is the rest of world.)

- Viking Bastard

3/21/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger McK3000 said...

"It's pretty clear you don't understand much about anything."

I understand pretty clearly that saying that Christian extremism in today's world has stacked up as many dead bodies as Islamic extremism is impossible to justfy on any level.

I also understand that in no way, shape, or form did Alan Moore write about religious extremism in "V for Vendetta" and thus there was no reason to include it in the film except to get across a paranoid agenda that is nearly laughable in its naïvety to actual history.

3/21/2006 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I love how I supposedly provided no proof, although I gave a link to an itemized list of every single Islamofascist terrorist acts since 9/11. And of course my list of Christian good acts and Muslim bad acts is one sided. It's up to the opposing side to supply their own lists. I notice you don't ask the people indicting Christianity to supply positive balancing information, yet you ask the guy defending Christianity to supply negative balancing information. It seems one-sidedness only bothers you in selective instances.

And to the poster who suggests that Islam has been "taken over" by the type of radicals that used to be in Christianity, it's not quite right. They've always been there. Islam has had radicals since the beginning, just check the history of Muslim agression against Hindus from the 12th century to the 18th for example. It's not something new. Click here for an online book The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India by Sita Ram Goel that spells it out in detail.

Christianity has had its share of radicals too, but it's had several reformations over the centuries. Islam has never had its Martin Luther.

3/21/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Adam, I noticed you put this particular statement of mine in bold, meaning you found it particularly funny: "let's not even get into what churches raise for countries internationally each year, including the Muslim survivors of the tsunami."

Allow me to elaborate and maybe you won't find it as hilarious.

In the early months following the tsunami, the facts were as follows:

• Saudi Arabia pledged $10 million, which is not much from the oil-rich Saudi Family

• Iran pledged a puny $627,000, a fraction of what they spending on their nuclear weapons program

• Wealthy Qatar gave $10 million of their petrodollars.

• The United Arab Emirates gave $2.6 million.

• Kuwait gave $2 million.

• Libya gave $2 million.

• Turkey gave $1.25 million.

The great Satan America gave $350 million in government aid, and it also gave hundreds of millions more from private U.S. donors, many of which were Christians and church groups.

Many of the regions affected, particularly in Indonesia, celebrated when 9/11 happened. A video of the tsunami showed an Indonesian wearing a Bin Ladin shirt when the wave hit. Both assertions are supported by media clips that were played ad nauseum on the airwaves and circulated on the internet. Yet the Anti-Americanism in those regions didn't deter Christian goverments and private citizens from stepping up.

This is the same government that the Wachowskis claim can't tolerate the existence of a Quran (despite the fact that we provide one to every one of our Muslim prisoners, along with halal meals).

3/21/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Jer said...

What I think you're all missing in your little pissing contest over "which religion is worse" is that it JUST DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER!

Gordon was not a Muslim. Gordon was not a terrorist. Gordon owned a copy of the Koran, some artwork that was critical of the government, and some gay erotica that he kept hidden in his basement.

Gordon was arrested for poking fun at the government. Gordon WAS EXECUTED for OWNING A FUCKING BOOK AND SOME SUBVERSIVE ARTWORK.

This is what was important. It wasn't that he was a terrorist. It wasn't that he was a practicing Muslim. Its that society had reached a point where OWNING A PARTICULAR BOOK was grounds for EXECUTION. V even points out that if it had just been the satire, he'd "just" have been imprisoned. But they found a Koran in his basement, so he was executed.

That's the point, and all of you who are arguing over which religion has the highest body count are totally FUCKING MISSING THE POINT. I actually expect it from "right-wing crazies", because the way that they debate is to cloud the issue with meaningless drivel that pulls everyone else away from the actual point. But I expect better from intelligent folks on all sides who are actually trying to have a discussion, and not just stir up shit.

Because, ultimately, this movie is about Nazi germany in the 30s and 40s. This movie is about Stalin's Russia in the 40s and 50s. This movie is about Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 80s and 90s. This movie is about North Korea since the 1950s. And China in the 1970s and 80s.

And this movie is a big fucking warning sign along the lines of Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here", or Orwell's "1984", or Gilliams "Brazil" - a big fucking warning showing the dangers of letting totalitarians come to power - of letting fear rule your life. And it doesn't fucking matter if the persecuted minority is Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Japanese, Presbyterian, Hispanic, or gay, because all it takes is a few power-hungry deviants to take the reigns and a whole bunch of folks to sit back and not say anything. It happened in Germany. It happened in Russia. It happened in Iraq. And it damn well could happen anywhere else in the world - including here - and anything that sits up and makes us remember that It Could Happen Here is something we need to take notice of. Because its our GODDAMN BIRTHRIGHT AND RESPONSIBILITY AS FUCKING AMERICANS to fight for these kinds of things. It was what our fucking country was fucking founded on.

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go calm down by banging my head repeatedly against a brick wall for an hour or so.

3/21/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Jer, normally you'd be right, a pissing contest over religion is unnecessary and immature. But when a movie is glossing over the misdeeds of one religion and culture in its one-sided zeal to demonize another, it does become necessary to point out the hypocrisy at that point.

I also find irony that the gay character you mention praises the beauty of the Koran and is used to criticized the intolerance of the West toward gays and foreign religions. If you look at this webpage from the the International Lesbian and Gay Association (hardly a right-wing source)listing countries where there is a death penalty for homosexual acts and where it's actually been applied, you'll find a unsurprising trend. The 3 countries that have actually legally killed people for being gay? Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Yemen, UAB, Pakistan, Sudan and Mauritania still have death penalties on the books for homosexuality.

3/21/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Crusading_saint said...

[q]But when a movie is glossing over the misdeeds of one religion and culture in its one-sided zeal to demonize another, it does become necessary to point out the hypocrisy at that point. [/q]

Is everyone talking about the same movie here? Because it seems to have gone off into a tangent about religion, which is not really an issue in the movie I saw. I'm a Christian myself (Catholic), and I usually notice when such a thing pops up...
There's only one major 'Christian' character, and he's evil, yes, but I saw that more as stemming from the fact that he was a figure of power, not because of his religion. And I certainly didn't see any scenes where Christianity was demonized, or past misdeeds brought up, or even really talked about, or where Islam was glorified (beyond a thirty second scene with a book in which said character mentions he likes the book - not the religion)...
Personally (and I don't mean to be rude), but I think people are reading a bit too much into things...
Saint

3/21/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Crusading_saint said...

And I should point out that I didn't like the movie. I thought it was fairly silly, and missed the point entirely of the comic...
Saint

3/21/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous adrian said...

So here's a question:

If Christianity is really as completely and utterly evil as this movie portrays it, and Islam is completely pure and noble and 100% free of sin then where were the Christians rioting over this movie?

Also: this is awesome. (Apart from the fact that the author apparently didn't know about the Alan Moore behind-the-scenes stuff at the time and assumed he was responsible for some aspects of the movie he probably wasn't.)

3/21/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

t writes: "The 3 countries that have actually legally killed people for being gay? Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Yemen, UAB, Pakistan, Sudan and Mauritania still have death penalties on the books for homosexuality."

As opposed to American Christians, who want gays to be second-class citizens with restricted rights and privileges, who think their relationships should be illegal, or think they can be "cured".

There's only about 75 years' difference between the ideas of the Islamic fundamentalists and the Christian fundamentalists.

That's ignoring African Christian leaders, who are far closer to the Muslim fundamentalists on this issue.

So don't be so quick to pat yourself on the back.

3/21/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Bastarður Víkinga said...

"And to the poster who suggests that Islam has been "taken over" by the type of radicals that used to be in Christianity, it's not quite right. They've always been there."

You are missing my point.

Religion ain't bad. People are. Plenty of bad radical muslims around. They are in control at the moment. Plenty of bad radical christians around. They just aren't in control right now. I'm told they're mostly in U.S. radio.

Plenty of good and nice muslims around. Ones that don't smite women and slap puppies.

I just find these kinda 'Which Has a Bloodier History' pissing matches silly.

3/21/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Eric Grant said...

Hey y'all.

IMO:

1. The movie was okay, but kind of lame. Natalie Portman was pretty crappy, especially her accent at the beginning, and the biggest error in the adaptation was to have V be such a blabbermouth. That completely does not work for the character on film. Stephen Rea was okay.

2. As was mentioned, there is no reason to believe anything that we are told about the US in the movie, since it is propoganda which serves the "Strength through Unity" principle. I'm surprised people whould miss this.

3. Monior quibble with the original post: in the film, England is not a "Great Power" (unlike, say, Orwell's Airstrip One). It's an insular fiefdom with closed borders, that barely extends beyond London. Sutler isn't head of the UK or Britain, no Scotland and Wales for him, just the quarantined part of England.

4. If you're going to start a tally between religions, you might as well compare year-by-year, which brings Islam to about 1350. So Christianity doesn't get to count the Reformation yet, so they don't have to add in the enormous bloodshed and persecutions (see: England, the Gunpowder Plot hoax, for example) that went with it.

5. Communism is almost always atheistic, while fascism almost always dresses itself in the veils of some sort of religion (or at least "spirituality"--ususally to justify it call for "purity"--without actually reflecting the tenets thereof. That is exactly how Sulter uses religion in the film.

By removing the scene where V kills the archbishop with a poisoned communion wafer, the filmmakers have made the film considerably less anti-Christian than the comic. Except for vague talk about God, a "dog collar" and a slightly cruciform logo (if I were the Lung association, I'd sue), there is little actual indication that any character actually believes in Christianity. They just play by the usual fascist playbook.

Wachowski/Moore's England is a long way from Atwood's Gilead.

Thanks for lettin' me yak.

3/21/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

"I love how all the people complaining on this blog about the poor Muslims that will be unfairly slandered by Frank Miller's Batman book have not shown up to stick up for the portrayal of Christians in this movie."

What Christians in the movie?

3/21/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous jingyang said...

"I also find irony that the gay character you mention praises the beauty of the Koran and is used to criticized the intolerance of the West toward gays and foreign religions.The 3 countries that have actually legally killed people for being gay? Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia".

Dear T, way to go and miss the point. As Jer has already pointed out, Gordon was executed over possessing a banned book. It is also repeatedly said that he had to stay in the closet. I fail to see how you see some implied criticism of the West for intolerance to Gays when it is pretty clear to me at least that what is demonstrated in the movie is a fascist government scapegoating miniorites and "the other". Whether the government truly hates Gays or not hardly matters.Whether the fascists are truly "Christian" hardly matters either. I am sure a vast majority of Americans would deny that a say, "Jerry Falwall lead government was 'Christian'" but the Falwallists would certianly call THEMSELVES Christian and claim to be acting in God's name. Most authoritarians of all stripes like to suggest that there is some higher power or superior ideology that supports their actions.
In addition, you seem to get offended when other people mention bad Christians and say that that is not representative of the whole of Christianity, yet feel perfectly free to make sweeping generalisations about Islam. Way to go.
Onto other points, I agree that the US Civil War could all simply be propanganda, with the UK Fascists using this as an example of how the UK needs a strong governemnt to avoid this kind of war themselves. It could also well be argued that the US has this war because people want to speak up. Whereas in the UK possibly dissenting miniorities have been eradicated.
Another point that I saw in another blog was an American claiming that "the UK enacted gun control" so that was how the fascists stayed in power. If any readers here are dim enough to believe this, I should point out that the UK has always had "gun control". It may well be that the amount of guns combined with extreme dissent or extreme govt. authoritarism the US would greatly increase the likelihood of a Civil War. So while gun control opponents may argue that this makes the US 'free', one has to wonder whether having the capacity to freely destroy one's own country is necessarily a good thing.

3/21/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

I haven't seen the movie, but in the graphic novel, I remember a scene with a church service. In the service, the corrupt bishop intertwined Christianity with governmental loyalty(it could have been any religion, but V takes place in Britain, so Christianity makes sense in context).

To me, that scene was about the danger of tying together church and state, not saying Christianity was inherently bad or good. The bishop fed the people propaganda, and was taken care of by the government. I think Alan Moore has issues with Christianity (I could be wrong, I've never read an interview in which he broaches the subject), as he is a practicing magician, but he didn't write about how another religion was better, or that another religion could not be co-opted by the government.

Soapbox alert! The following has little or nothing to do with V for Vendetta.

Re: relativism, is the Church "right" if they are not as bad as fundamentalist Islam? "We don't kill gay people" is not the strongest defense of Church policy. Non-inclusive and/or oppressive policies are not justifiable just because things could be worse. Of course I would rather be in the United States than an Islamic country, regardless of my problems with government and certain factions of organized religion. "Love it or leave it," as I've heard it put, is not productive thinking. I prefer "work to change it."

3/21/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the movie, the U.S. has collapsed into what we're supposed to believe is a decades-long civil war, prompted by Bush's War on Terror. "

I was pondering this being ham-handed or not. I don't think, in this day and age, it is. I mean, thinking back to when V was first written, if it had been a film *then*, I don't think people would have thought 'But what about the US? Why would they let something like this happen?' but today?

If they hadn't said a word about the US, I'd have been curious where 'we' were in all this. I mean, sure, we're all good with seeing third world countries go all apeshit with rights abuses, but if the UK did? I think we'd have something to say. Which, come to think of it, does raise the question of 'Where the heck was the UN in all this?'

3/21/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Adam, I noticed you put this particular statement of mine in bold, meaning you found it particularly funny: "let's not even get into what churches raise for countries internationally each year, including the Muslim survivors of the tsunami."

Allow me to elaborate and maybe you won't find it as hilarious.


the hilarity was more from how much all your CHRISTIAN AMERICANS SHOULD BE GOOD posts sound somewhat like backpatting the christian american self. don't take me wrong, i do understand where you're coming from. it's just, it's a bit funny.

also, how everything in the world seems to come from the americas, and early early christians. it's like that running joke in LIFE OF BRIAN: "the romans never did us any good! what did the romans ever give us?"

and well, that bit about christians giving women equal rights, well, that was mighty funny as well, but i guess it's more from growing up in south east asia's premiere non-muslim country. it's more catholic country here in the philippines, but the christians are pretty prevalent, too, and 'round these parts, the christians are more known for their on-air live via satellite bible-thumpin' jehovah-smitin' gay-hatin' women-suppresin' ventures, than with the more charitable stuff that you enumerated.

the only people 'round here who're tolerant beyond words are the pagans and atheists.

and no, these words did not come from any pamphlets from the american liberal propaganda machine. it's all just from experience with christians, on TV and for real.

let me make this point clear: i've nothing against christians or americans or muslims. i do have a thing against narrow-minded fucks, though, and most of them being christians is just a coincidence.

maybe, next time, when you're discussing such-and-such, before making wide proclamations about such-and-such, well, also consider the extra-american experience. most of the more serious discussions that have happened in this great great blog (like the other more recent r-word: rape) have been largely america-centric. no real problem there, seeing as to how most of everyone here's american. it's just sometimes, you revolve around america too much, and how some of you actually tend to tune off when a different, extra-american perspective is actually given light. it's just, well, funny.

see now how everything can't just be equated to the Great Satan? most foreigners don't hate americans because we think you're all dumb racist hicks who hate aliens. most foreigners hate americans because you're all so damn egocentric.

remember the ex-girl/boyfriend you can't stand because all s/he can talk about is her/himself? who won't let you forget how much s/he helped you out with the flat tire/computer repair/income tax returns the other year? who expects you to sex her/him up precisely because of the said favours that s/he wouldn't let you forget? that's how most foreigners see you americans.

see now how it's all funny from where i'm watching?

3/21/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"it's just sometimes, you revolve around america too much, and how some of you actually tend to tune off when a different, extra-american perspective is actually given light. it's just, well, funny."

Personally, I'd argue the opposite and say that people tend to tune off or get defensive when a PRO-American/Christian perspective viewpoint is given light, as evidenced by this thread, but that's just me. That's, well, funnier actually.

3/21/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

This is a long one. Apologies...

The United Kingdom has arisen as a power because they turned to brutal fascism to control things, implying that because Americans had freedom to question the government, things fell apart.
Is that the implication? That seems rather specific to be an implication. I merely read that as a logical (if extreme) extension of the current divisions within the US, rather than a statement about Americans' freedom to question authority.

By singling out the Koran
And again, I feel it's overstating it a bit to say the film "singles out" the Qu'ran.

By using this idea, the Wachowskis again imply that the Bush Administration would do it, or perhaps has done it.
And again, this would appear to be reading too much into it. Are they specifically targetting Bush here, or are they just warming up an old and well-used plot point?

Dunno...

Aside from that, I'm in general agreement with you. This was a fine superhero movie, and a pretty decent adaptation too. I still prefer Unbreakable though.

I really liked it, and it was only the fudging of V's political philosophy from destructive anarchist to inspiring revolutionary that bothered me. And the Legion of V at the end, which was just silly, and utterly undermined Evey's role.

In some ways, I even preferred it to the original. I don't think Moore and Lloyd managed to make V quite as creepy as the film did, for example.

the British people are unconcerned with the destruction of their national symbol
I actually really enjoyed seeing the place going up. I'm not particularly anti-government, but I've never much liked that building.

What a movie like V For Vendetta does is show us that it could easily happen anywhere.
Exactly.

ChristopherAllen:
V was written in the early '80s largely as a response to the fascism of soon-to-be British PM Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher was first elected in 1979, so it's more likely that V was a reaction to her first years.

Mike Loughlin:
What happens after V tortures Evey? She falls in line with him, carries his plans to fruition, and takes his place.
It's been a couple of years since I read the book, but this isn't how I remember it at all. V does "create" Evey to follow on from him, but not to carry on his work, because his work is done, and he knows he can't do what Evey can, which is to provide inspiration and rebuild. One of the key points of the book, as I remember it, is that Evey is not like V. He's the destroyer, she's the creator.

Jer:
The thematic shift away from "anarchism vs. fascism" and to "democracy vs. fascism" makes the movie much more black and white than the comic book its derived from.
Quite right. And excellent point about the "love story", which undermines V's role as destroyer.

Anun:
they took away a lot of the people's responsibility for givng Norsefire its rise to power by making it one big conspiracy theory
Good point, and it's rather surprising that they didn't emphasise this aspect (beyond the brief bit about the election with the ridiculously unlikely result), assuming that they did in fact want to equate Norsefire with Bush.

T:
We don't preach the murder of nonbelievers of Christ.
Some Christians in fact do do this. And they get television programmes and even whole channels on which to do it. But they (thankfully) don't speak for all Christians, just as a nutter with a bomb jacket (thankfully) doesn't speak for all Muslims.

Nazis and Islamofascists are more evil than Americans and the British, end of story.
What about British Nazis, which is what the film's Norsefire essentially is?

Jer (again):
Gordon was arrested for poking fun at the government. Gordon WAS EXECUTED for OWNING A FUCKING BOOK AND SOME SUBVERSIVE ARTWORK.
Exactly.

T (again):
But when a movie is glossing over the misdeeds of one religion and culture in its one-sided zeal to demonize another
But it doesn't. Gordon says the Qu'ran has some beautiful passages, which it does. And the film doesn't demonise Christianity at all. The fact that the Bishop is a nasty sort has nothing to do with his religion, and Norsefire's emphasis on "godliness" is hardly a specific condemnation of Christianity.

jingyang:
Another point that I saw in another blog was an American claiming that "the UK enacted gun control" so that was how the fascists stayed in power.
Really? That's insane.

If any readers here are dim enough to believe this, I should point out that the UK has always had "gun control".
One of the things I found unusual about the film was just how many guns there were, considering that it's Britain. I don't remember the fascist police in the book using guns so readily.

3/21/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam - even funnier now, isn't it?

Jer - thank you.

T. - you're missing every single point anyone else brings up, and it's beginning to look like you're doing it on purpose. At this point I'd be shocked if you actually deigned to engage with a rebuttal. Or even a mildly neutral comment.

Nice job with taking other people's words out of context and then using them to bolster your own argument, by the way! Classy.

3/21/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon H said...

Anonymous writes: "I mean, sure, we're all good with seeing third world countries go all apeshit with rights abuses, but if the UK did? I think we'd have something to say."

I think our government would say "Welcome to the party, have you tried these new cattle prods? They work great! Really get the prisoners talking!"

3/21/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

No way was From Hell any varying degree of decent.

That movie was boring and stinky.

3/21/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

T. - you're missing every single point anyone else brings up, and it's beginning to look like you're doing it on purpose.

What points have I missed, exactly?

At this point I'd be shocked if you actually deigned to engage with a rebuttal. Or even a mildly neutral comment.

Mildly neutral comment? No. But I'm hardly the only one here with comments that aren't mildly neutral. And I think I have a fair amount of rebuttals here.

Nice job with taking other people's words out of context and then using them to bolster your own argument, by the way! Classy.

I personally don't think I've taken anything out of context, but who knows, maybe I have. I'll reread the thread and see.

3/21/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

By the way, I love the movie. I plan to see it again and have recommended it to my friends. The fact that it degenerates into liberbabble at the end doesn't detract from what I felt was sharp cinematography, good direction, great work by Weaving and kick-ass action. That final fight scene was great and Weaving really made the dialogue pop. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars just based on style and execution. It's just really stupid and feeble-minded when it comes to political analysis, history and knowledge of how the world actually works.

3/21/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/21/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Personally, I'd argue the opposite and say that people tend to tune off or get defensive when a PRO-American/Christian perspective viewpoint is given light, as evidenced by this thread, but that's just me. That's, well, funnier actually.

ah, well, see how you tuned off regarding everything else that i said about americans and whatnot, instead quoting a couple of sentences from a longish post and trying to spin it around to your advantage? that was what i found was funny about you people.

now, just to kill the thread dead with my extra-american perspective:

as you might not know, the philippines is going through a rough patch of months with our president, who is quickly shaping up to be our very own margaret thatcher, only with our version, she was put there illegally and unconstitutionally.

we're actually just less than a month off of a presidential declaration of state of national emergency, which was actually martial law in disguise. it was pulled out of a hat largely in aid of arresting opposition leaders (ah, the dreaded commies! the gay and the intellectuals!) and pretty much shitting on everyone's basic human rights (organizations even slightly resembling opposition forces are discouraged by the police to assemble, even if only for meetings, "discouraged" with threats of arrests and bludgeoning of batons and hard hosing downs).

full disclosure: i come from the state university, a place better known for its activist-communist leanings more than anything else, and i am somewhat in the begginings of what you americans might jokingly call as "pinko", although it manifests more in my views about literary production, with my political leanings only secondary to that. i don't think i'll ever be a commie through-and-through, until the day i die, as they have way as many problems within the movement as without to ever effect any real change, although i do believe in their more sedate ideals, like the christian who believes in all the christian good will but not with its exclusivist bullshit. i'm a non-practicing communist, i guess.

seeing the film, a lot of us filipinos couldn't help but see parallels of our situation (from the past, present, and the immediate future, and i'm not just saying this for the sake of argument) within the two hours of the movie: the media manipulation and censorship, the state-sponsored terrorism (down south, in muslim mindanao, civilians (read: women and children) are killed wholesale, by the villages, just out of dint of being muslim, most soldiers rationalizing it with "it's us or them"), the random pick-ups of personalities from opposition forces... every effort that our government has employed to threaten, suppress, bludgeon, kill, and ignore contrary perspectives were found in the movie.

even the bit where the population was largely unconcerned with norsefire's terrorist campaign because, well, as far as the rest of england was concerned, it's the good life, and as long as it's not happening to them, it's all okay. the ambiguous middle forces, neither left nor right, just... comfortable.

so, maybe, V FOR VENDETTA isn't just about america's war on terror? or thatcherite britain? or saddam's iraq? or macapagal-arroyo's de facto martial law? or hitler's nazi germany? or stalin's red russia?

to echo the movie's final words: it's about everyone.

3/21/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"to echo the movie's final words: it's about everyone."

That's what I thought about the movie until the scene where V describes how the conservatives came to power. The muslim contribution to the War on Terror is very glazed over, almost as an afterthought before the focus is placed on conservatives (explicitly named) and their politics of fear. The movie was very explicit and detailed in its treatment of conservatives as villains, yet vague when discussing the muslim threat, no matter what neutral mantras it ends with about being "about everybody." If it's about everybody, then be vague about everyone and use just allegory or be explicit and name everybody. But to be vague about certain groups and suddenly become explicit when targeting Christians, conservative and Bush...c'mon now.

Do we ever find out what happened to the Muslims that kicked off the war? No. Who gets accused of spreading politics of fear? The West. Personally I think Muslims flying plans into buildings, blowing up trains and innocents is way more effective as spreading fear than Bush's speeches ever could be.

3/21/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What points have I missed, exactly?"

As I said: every point. You even supply your own example of how it's done:

Me: "At this point I'd be shocked if you actually deigned to engage with a rebuttal. Or even a mildly neutral comment."

You: "Mildly neutral comment? No. But I'm hardly the only one here with comments that aren't mildly neutral. And I think I have a fair amount of rebuttals here."

Maybe you do, but that ISN'T what I said. I said you aren't RESPONDING to OTHER PEOPLE'S rebuttals. That was my rebuttal to you, you see? That you gloss right over what other people are saying. LIKE YOU JUST DID WITH ME! "I'm hardly the only one with comments that aren't mildly neutral." I WASN'T ACCUSING OTHER PEOPLE, OR EVEN YOU, OF MAKING INFLAMMATORY COMMENTS, T.! I was saying that I'd be surprised if you deigned to engage fairly even with something that WASN'T a rebuttal, but just a comment. Did you even read what I said?

You: "Mildly neutral comment? No."

Let me ask you, to what did you think you were responding there? Whose question were you answering? Not mine! So you "think you have a fair number of rebuttals", do you? I question that. Certainly you've told people they're wrong a lot. But you haven't actually argued them down. When they say Christianity is bad, you say "oh, Islam is worse!" Well, so what if it is? It doesn't make Christianity better. And when someone notes that you cannot claim Christianity as the author of every progressive measure ever taken in Western Europe - which you can't, because how can you? Did Jesus write the Declaration of the Rights of Man? - you reply by giving a link to Muslim massacres, as if to say "look, aren't they horrible?" This isn't rebutting. This is bobbing and weaving. What you claim Christianity has accomplished hasn't even been accomplished yet, much less by Christianity, so you can't count it. "Equal rights for women", indeed! Was that Christianity's idea, after all? And Maxwell may "arguably" have been a greater genius than Newton or Einstein (not that I've ever heard anyone argue it, not even you - asserting that something's arguable is far from being the same as proving that it is), but what did his religion have to do with this, even if true? Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. NOTHING. Did his Christian faith predispose him to look at the electron with more compassionate eyes, or something? Is that really what you're saying there? Perfect nonsense, utter crap, obfuscation. Illegitimate reasoning.

Adam says it's funny how Christian Americans are so self-centred. You reply that you think what's really funny is when people cut Christian Americans down. Sorry, non sequitur, pal. Jer says the pissing match over whose religion is worse is beside the point, and you correct him on it by saying the anti-Christian zeal of V For Vendetta has to be exposed for the hypocrisy it is. Doesn't follow! Somebody points out that Christianity is responsible for more bodies than anything but fascism and communism, and you say "Aha! That just proves my point, to turn away from Christ is to become a barbarian!" But that ISN'T what that person was saying. You've taken their words and twisted them, and that isn't allowed.

God help you if you think you can stack up all Christianity's bodies against Islam's bodies, and then say "this one's better, it killed less." What a shocking conclusion that would be.

3/21/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

As a movie, I liked V for Vendetta. I didn't look at my watch, and the technical performances are well done (Weaving in particular).

As a prompt to ask theoretical questions like "is extremism in the defense of liberty a vice?" V works very well. Clearly those who struggle against monsters tend to become monsters themselves, but is that inevitable?

As cautionary tale, it works not quite as well as 1984 or many others, but still works. Liberty is fragile, and can be taken away in surprising manners. People throughout history have willingly followed horrifyingly bad people.

As allegory to current events, it sucks badly. The folks on the left of American politics are convinced that they live in the worst of times (thus, things like "BusHitler" are relatively common expressions); while the folks on the right of American politics raise "you're either with us or against us" to the level of scripture rather than pity aphorism. A reading of current American politics into this movie does both the movie and politics a disservice.

Oh, and the arguments about Christianity and Islam thoroughly miss the point. Right now (and for the recent past), Islam has been vastly more violent than Christianity, and has been far less tolerant of diversity and dissent. Christianity has mellowed out tremendously over the past 100 or so years, and hopefully something similar will happen in the Islamic world (soon, please!). But neither Islam nor Christianity have been as opressive and destructive as Communism and Nazism (with Fascism thrown in for the ride). Those two have a body count orders of magnitude larger than any of the worst religous periods in human history.

3/21/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Crusading_saint said...

I'm still wondering where you're getting the idea that the movie specifically targets Christianity and Christians as a bad thing...are there scenes where the evils of Christianity throughout the years are mentioned that I missed? Is there more than one evil 'Christian' character (and he isn't even shown as being really Christian, just a nasty power figure using the vaguest trappings of religion)?
I really don't see where you're coming from for that point...

3/21/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Man anonymous, you are really getting worked up there.

3/21/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I'm skimming this, because shit, it's long, but I think that arguing which side committed the most atrocities is the dumbest thing ever. I mean, I like T. and Greg and Lungfish, but what are you guys trying to accomplish with the tally sheets? Or did you already reach a resolution and I missed it because I am ignoring you all? Summarize, please.

3/21/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Edward Liu said...

Brad Curran said: "Summarize, please."

I think I can do this for all concerned.

You see, This is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk...

3/21/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't want clarification, T., then why do you ask for it? Silly me, I supplied it thinking that you might engage with what I said in good faith...but "whoa, you're really getting worked up there" hardly counts as a serious good-faith response, does it?

Are you trying to imply that I'm being overly passionate about this topic? Says the man who's written a good couple thousand fiery words about it. Sorry, won't wash; a few all-caps words does not a raving lunatic make. My point remains: you're avoiding real argument.

My invitation to you is to prove me wrong about that. It'll be interesting to see if you choose to.
Whether we agree or disagree is all one to me; you don't have to change your tune to get me to concede you're arguing legitimately. But you will have to do something besides changing the subject.

Okay, absent the miracle of T. addressing anything I've said at face value, I'm out. Thank you for your time.

3/21/2006 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"I mean, I like T. and Greg and Lungfish, but what are you guys trying to accomplish with the tally sheets?"

The tally sheet was pretty much in response to the throwaway line in Greg's (whose writing I still love) review stating that right-wing crazies shouldn't complain because if a tally sheet were started Christianity would be shown to be as bad as Islam. I couldn't believe a statement like that could go unchallenged on a site where posters passionately defended Muslims when responding to the news of Frank Miller's Batman book.

3/21/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Anonymous, look at everything I've written. For you to have read everything I said and say I provided no proof of my points just showed me that you were jusr resolved not to get it. I can understand if you just disagree with my reasoning or conclusion, but to say I was avoiding debate or not providing proof? As if the people arguing that only Communists and Nazis were more evil than Christians were supplying bibliographies to support their claims? I'm supposed to jump through your hoops and supply a standard of proof that you don't seem to be demanding of anyone else? Give me a break. If you read my posts and see no proof offered and no valid points given, it's either your comprehension or my debating at fault. Either way, another thousand words from me or links to other meticulously websites won't resolve the situation.

3/22/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The case, she is rested.

3/22/2006 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Jon H said...

" The movie was very explicit and detailed in its treatment of conservatives as villains, yet vague when discussing the muslim threat, no matter what neutral mantras it ends with about being "about everybody." "

My god, it must be awful to live in such mind-killing fear.

"Muslim threat" is irrelevant because the movie is about a group who took advantage of fears like yours in order to gain power and destroy everyone's liberty but their own.

Step one: people like you decide they would gladly live in a nationwide prison just as long as they're safe from them bad, bad Muslims (even though your likelihood of being killed by a terrorist is lower than being struck by lightning while winning the lottery.)

Step two: Evil people fake a terrorist attack and blame it on some handy Muslims.

Step three: the evil people take power and establish a totalitarian state.

That's the point.

But apparently, you think it would be okay to turn a free country into an un-free totalitarian state just because there are Muslim terrorists in the world.

Am I getting this right? You want the movie to acknowledge the acts of real-world terrorists because that would make it easier to understand why the conservatives killed 100,000 people, blamed some innocent Muslims, and stripped everyone of their liberty?

You really think those acts would be acceptable, just because you're scared of the bad, bad Muslims?

You're more likely to be killed by a deer jumping into your car on the highway than by a terrorist. Is that also a valid justification for stripping away everyone's freedoms?

(coincidence: my word verification is semtxw, which is kinda like semtex, the plastic explosive.)

3/22/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon H said...

david writes: "The folks on the left of American politics are convinced that they live in the worst of times"

Some may. I wouldn't say "worst of times", I think it's bad enough that we live in times when torture and indefinite detention without trial have become offical American policy. All the arrogant incompetence in the White House and the Pentagon, the contempt for the rule of law, and the corruption, the personality cult around Bush - they're just icing on the cake.

3/22/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

"I couldn't believe a statement like that could go unchallenged on a site where posters passionately defended Muslims when responding to the news of Frank Miller's Batman book."

Maybe I'm misremembering, but it seemed to me that it was more about passionately decrying Frank Miller as unsuited to deal with complicated and delicate social and political issues.

Attacking one does not mean defending the other.

3/23/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

"The folks on the left of American politics are convinced that they live in the worst of times"

Secret prisons.
Government-endorsed discrimination toward homosexuals.
Illegal spying on peace groups.
Public lying about information and actions connected to Katrina, where people died due to the slow response.
A president who honestly believes that he can hear the word of God, and all his decisions are of divine command.

It may not be the worst of times, but fear and anger are justified.

3/23/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hated the movie. Thought it was ham-fisted and really, really dumbed down. Changing Evey's character, removing all her desperation, killed the entire point of the story. As did showing the entire population to be well-off pub drinkers with kick-ass plasma TVs in every home. Yeah, certain people got that knock on the door in the middle of the night, but the masses were kept well-fed and sleepy, so, uh, what's the point of this revolution again?

I also hated the Islamic stuff. I get the "He was killed for a book! OMG!" stuff about Fry's character just fine, thanks. But I didn't buy the entire notion of an intelligent gay man revering the Koran. They fucking drop walls on gay people in the Muslim world, folks.

I could see Fry's character having a copy of Khayyam's Rubaiyat or something similar, and being killed because of crazy prohibitions on writing in Arabic. That would've been more subtle, and more sensible.

Also, you want to start arguing about Islamic body counts, please don't start with the Crusades. Start with the incredibly bloody war of conquest where the Muslims tried to conquer all civilization in the seventh and eighth centuries. The Crusades were an attempt to regain what the Muslims had conquered through war just four centuries previously.

You want to compare body counts? Sure. Just make sure and start in 632, when the Muslim armies charged out of Arabia and exterminated the Persians, brought the Byzantine Empire to the brink of collapse, conquered all of northern Africa and Spain, and tried to drive on into France.

Get your information from history, not Alan Moore's misinformed rantings or current PC thinking that always begins with an apology for the Crusades.

4/04/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Alanna said...

How dare you compare Bush to Machiavelli? To be Machiavellian requires cunning - an adeptness Bush seriously lacks. Machiavelli was way cooler, way smarter, and way more glorious than Bush could ever hope to be.

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