Hollywood Jahilliya

Democracy, whiskey, sexy.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I'm an old-school liberal, like FDR or, heck, even Trotsky if I'm feeling generous. That is, I recognize a fascist enemy when I see one, and I treat it like an enemy. It's my mission (self-appointed, of course) to convince other Hollywood liberals to do the same.

20 March 2006

V For Vendetta = D For Doublespeak

All my suspicions about the movie have been confirmed. From the first frame to the last, it is an endorsement of fascism and terrorism dressed up as a triumph of the nonconformist will. A more stylish-yet-vapid bit of propaganda could not have been composed by Riefenstahl herself.

The title character -- Code Name: V -- is of course sympathetic, and any human lacking in apathy feels for him. But his formula for change is brutally simplistic and downright evil, not to mention elitist and totalitarian. He hopes to inspire not reform, but complete destruction.

The climactic set-piece of the film, when London's oppressed citizens, inspired by V's heroic terrorism, trade in fearful obedience for blind conformity by dressing up like him and blowing up Parliament, is portrayed as a victory for freedom. The audience isn't even offered the choice between red or blue pills, as it was in The Matrix. Instead, we're asked to choose between two blue pills.

The confusing thing is whether the filmmakers want us to take this seriously. In all the interviews I've watched or read, they sure seem like they do. Until, that is, they encounter a serious (read: critical) question; then, suddenly, well, it's just a movie.

Nothing in the film leads me to amend my original remarks about its political content and implications. Though I have to wonder: have the Wachowskis or McTeigue or anyone else connected to the production ever paid attention to how masked political mobs actually behave in the real world? Have they never heard of the Ku Klux Klan? Baader-Meihoff? Al-Qaeda? Have they ever watched newsreels from Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia or any other totalitarian society? Haven't they noticed that such types are the only ones in the real world who deliver V's message and live by his example? Haven't they noticed that the only result of actions like those V endorses have been the rise of totalitarian states?

Further, are they conscious at all of the power of propaganda? You'd think so, they way they show Sutler's government using it in the movie. But do they get it that their movie is a piece of propaganda in its own right? That it will have real consequences in the real world? This isn't just a movie about the world inside the movie. It's a movie about the world outside it, too; and in that world, the only side effect messages like this have ever had is to bolster the rise of government's like Sutler's.

And are they really banking on the gamble that the rest of us won't notice this? How dumb do they think we are?

Aestehically, there's a lot to like about the movie. But politically, it is reactionary trash, as right-wing and pro-fascist as V's enemies. If this is any indication of how the Holywood political mind sees the world, then we're in big trouble. It means that Tinseltown has joined Big Brother's side, and done so in the name of freedom.

Doublespeak, indeed.


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