Monday, March 7, 2011

V for Vendetta Revisited

Some may remember my previous post regarding the movie, V for Vendetta: Scary Parallels to America Today. Anyway, about a year or so ago, my wife bought me the book, which is actually like a long comic book. I finally got around to reading it last week, and have to say it blew me away. I highly recommend the book.

We all know that in many cases, the movie bites in comparison to the book. I don't think I can say either one is really superior in this case. For being a movie based upon a book, it was done very well, although there were still some variations. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who takes me up on it and actually reads the book, so I'll keep it short. The thing I like most about the book is that at the end, it does a much better job of portraying the idea of being able to kill a person, but not an idea. In this case, freedom is the idea, one that dwells deep in the soul of everyone, though many do not act on it because of fear and laziness.

I want to give you a few snippets of conversation in the book. The first is between V and Evey, after he has let her out of the prison cell.
Evey: You did this to me. . . .
V: Because I love you. Because I want to set you free.
Evey: Because? Set me free? Don't you realize? Don't you realize what you did to me? You nearly drove me mad, V!!
V: If that's what it takes, Evey.
Evey: I hate you. I hate you because you just talk junk and you think you're so good that you don't have to make any sense! You say you love me and you Don't because you just frighten me and torture me for a joke . . . You say you want to set me free and you put me in a prison . . .
V: You were already in a prison. You've been in a prison all your life.
Evey: Shut up! I don't want to hear it! I wasn't in prison! I was happy! I was happy here until you threw me out.
V: Happiness is a prison, Evey. Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.
Evey: That's warped! That's warped and evil and wrong! When you threw me out I went to live with somebody. I was in love with him. I was happy. If that's a prison, then I don't care!
V: Don't you? Your lover lived in the penitentiary that we are all born into, and was forced to rake the dregs of that world for his living. He knew affection and tenderness but only briefly. . . Eventually, one of the other inmates stabbed him with a cutlass and he drowned upon his own blood. Is that it, Evey? Is that the happiness worth more than freedom?
Evey: How did you know? How did you know what happened to Gordon?
V: It's not an uncommon story, Evey. Many convicts meet with miserable ends. . . Your mother. Your father. Your lover. One by one, take out behind the chemical sheds . . . and shot. All convicts, hunched and deformed by the smallness of their cells; the weight of their chains; the unfairness of their sentences. . . I didn't put you in a prison, Evey. I just showed you the bars.
Evey: You're wrong! It's just life, that's all! It's how life is! It's what we've got to put up with. It's all we've got.. What gives you the right to decide it's not good enough?
V: You're in a prison, Evey. You were born in a prison. You've been in prison so long, you no longer believe theres a world outside.
Evey: Shut up! You're mad! I don't want to hear it!
V: That's because you're afraid, Evey. You're afraid because you can feel freedom closing in upon you. You're afraid because Freedom is terrifying . . . .

The second is short, the speakers not connected except in message, though on opposite sides of the spectrum. Don't know the female character, but the other is V.
V: It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing . . . one loud noise, and it's gone.
???: But the people are so cowed and disorganized. A few might take the opportunity to protest, but it'll just be a voice crying in the wilderness.
V: Noise is relative to the silence preceding it. The more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap. Our masters have not heard the people's voice for generations, Evey. . . and it is much, much louder than they care to remember.

The third comes in later in the chaos. Brief quote.
"Authority, when first detecting chaos at its heels, will entertain the vilest schemes to save its orderly facade . . . but always order without justice, without love or liberty, which cannot long postpone their world's descent to pandemonium."

So, think about the words above. Many of us live in prisons, and don't even know it. Look for the bars. Wave your hands around all over so you can feel them if for some reason you can't see them. Realize they are there, and once you do, you can become free. Once you have decided to become and remain free, be loud about it. In the past couple of years Americans have made noise louder than many can remember. We aren't loud enough yet. Speak up and act free. Never forget that the sound of freedom scares tyrants, who will try to crush it as they would crush chaos. Stand your ground. Their world will fall.

Be free. Speak free. Act free.


Bob G. said...

I enjoyed the movie because of all the "undertones" involved with the government, and I also plan to read the graphic novels.

Regarding the "prisons"...
Good point.
I often make the analogy of people AGAIN in slavery, just of a different sort (entitlements - aka "wards of the state").

And those in such bondage don't even know they are...or how it happened.

Excellent commentary...let's hope OUR society doesn't come to that found in "V".

Matt said...

I also hope that we don't get to that point, but I often times think that is a naive outlook. We are headed toward economic collapse, and when the wards of the state don't have the steaks on their platter, I have to wonder what's next. As far as .gov control, I'm almost convinced that we are now in a one party, two evils system. And no backbones to boot.

Keep practicing and preparing for the worst, and praying for the best.

Suturn said...

I am told, deer almost never travel more than five miles from their birthplaces during their lives. If an enclosure were located outside the normal unimpeded limits of a deer's lifetime wanderings would the deer enclosed be imprisoned? Perhaps, but note that it makes a difference to our intuitions whether someone install that enclosure[..] A jail without a jailer is not a jail.
D. Dennett Elbow Room. The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting.
Now, it seems to me that the jail V is talking about is too many things at the same time. It's of course the prison created by the authoritative regime on the deviants as on the regular citizens and its employees, but it's also the happy unaware life, it's an existence without principles, it's the life of whom fears the death. But where is the jailer? In this passage V looks to me much more schizophrenic than in the rest of the graphic novel, in the sense that he's obsessed with an idea over any logical limit.

geoff williams said...

This is amazing. I stumbled across this blog trying to do research on an essay I am writing about freedom and control (to be specific, "When should one stop submitting to another's control?") I obviously decided to draw on V for Vendetta as a resource (and rightfully so). But this is amazing. If I had heard that last paragraph in person I would have broken down in tears. Tears of realization. I would be honored if I could reference this post in my essay (with acceptable citation of course). I will also say @Bob G. that we DO live in that society, though not as extreme-- our lives are that restricted in the sense that we cannot easily better ourselves because of society's constant distractions (a big one being video games or entertainment of that sort). But I do agree with you when you said "And those in such bondage don't even know they are...or how it happened." This is true, however, an individual can only come to this conclusion if they are aware of not being free. Those who do not have this insight of the world (specifically the US) do not have a realistic concept of what it means, or what it's like, to be free. As Matt put it, they have yet to find the bars to their jail cell. But even with the realization that we are not free, how do we become free? What defines freedom? In my essay I have actually identified and attempted to answer those questions. Again, excellent post. I tilt my hat to you, good sir.

Matt said...

Geoff, I'm sorry I just noticed your post and released it from moderation. I don't pay much mind to this site anymore because there are more pressing things to do, and I often feel I don't have anything to add to the conversations taking place elsewhere on the web. Thank you for your compliments on the post. The problem with freedom is that it isn't tangible, so as are most abstract things (ideas), it can be a hard concept to grasp, especially if your eyes are closed.

I hope it is not too late for your essay, and if it is I hope you used whatever you needed. As long as attribution is there, feel free to use anything you like.

Matt said...

Also, Geoff, I would love to read a copy of that essay when you are finished with it.