Street Fighting Man
I’ve never been a huge fan of the peace sign.
Not the one that kids draw and, if they’re from the suburbs, mistake for the Mercedes logo. I’m talking about making a V with your pointer and middle fingers. We have it all wrong in America. Here it’s a lame-duck holdover from Woodstock. “Peace, man!”
Make me puke.
The Brits have it right. For them it means, “Bugger off.” Or V for Victory.
I saw the Wachowski Brothers new film, “V For Vendetta,” tonight. It’s a stunner; another impassioned, graceful, poetic and philosophical spool of super-saturated celluloid from the boys who brought you “The Matrix.” Once again, the brother’s have affixed a target to hegemony, homogeny, demagoguery, and despotism.
And it’s cool as hell.
Painting from palette equal parts Soviet propaganda poster and distopic Orwellian nightmare, The Brothers deliver unto Bush-bashed, Iraq-embroiled, and disaster-fatigued America an unlikely hero, V. And he’s a doozy: Hugo Weaving’s voice (you may remember him as Agent Smith in “The Matrix” Trlogies) behind a Guy Fawkes mask that is reminiscent of a leaner, more maniacal Chef Boyardee.
Forged from fires of wrongful imprisonment, biological testing, and a reign of nationalist, political terror, V wages a bloody, fiery, and rightous rebellion. He brings down Parliament. He blows up Big Ben. And even I — who watched the World Trade Center fall with my own eyes — even I cheered.
Because, as he tells the power-starved, presidential-plotting Black Bagger, Creedy, just moments before ringing his corrupt neck, “Ideas are bulletproof.” The idea is self-determination. Government is the proxy of the people. No leader knows better than his constituents. He is his constituency. The idea is that people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.
In an age when Weapons Of Mass Destruction are a foregone conclusion, when surveillance is on every street corner, and the question is not if, but when, we need V. Not for peace. For bugger off. And vendetta.
Bad government often creates good art. Hitler begot Anne Frank. Lyndon Johnson begot Bob Dylan. Ronald Reagan begot Andres Serrano. But lately, I’ve wondered where the rebels are. Where are the defiant, brave and relentless voices?
George Clooney’s “Good Night, And Good Luck,” urged us — through flashback — to ask questions. Steven SpielbergÕs “Munich,” urged us — through flashback — to make history of vengeance. And now, The Brothers say, “Stand up! Be counted! Do something! Your voice matters!”
If only this film had been released during election year. If only movie screens in every strip mall and Cineplex flickered with the cultural sabotage that is “V For Vendetta.” Maybe some 775 soldiers — not to mention thousands of innocent civilians — would still be alive today.