Alan Moore explains the Guy Fawkes mask, Occupy, Anonymous and anti-ACTA protests

Alan Moore, writer of V for Vendetta and enigmatic wizard of comicology, describes the relationship between the Guy Fawkes mask and Anonymous, anti-ACTA protests, and the Occupy movement. Beginning with the Moore-ish phrase, "Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire, and the adoption of the V for Vendetta mask as a multipurpose icon by the emerging global protest movements is no exception," Moore goes on to semi-seriously condemn the ugly reality of post-capitalist winner-take-all economics and explain why V for Vendetta has found such fertile soil in this decade.

It also seems that our character's charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid's Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Neglect

Our present financial ethos no longer even resembles conventional capitalism, which at least implies a brutal Darwinian free-for-all, however one-sided and unfair. Instead, we have a situation where the banks seem to be an untouchable monarchy beyond the reach of governmental restraint, much like the profligate court of Charles I.

Then, a depraved neglect of the poor and the "squeezed middle" led inexorably to an unanticipated reaction in the horrific form of Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War which, as it happens, was bloodily concluded in Northamptonshire.

Today's response to similar oppressions seems to be one that is intelligent, constantly evolving and considerably more humane, and yet our character's borrowed Catholic revolutionary visage and his incongruously Puritan apparel are perhaps a reminder that unjust institutions may always be haunted by volatile 17th century spectres, even if today's uprisings are fuelled more by social networks than by gunpowder.

Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous (Thanks, Gawain Lavers!)



  1. We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love.

    Because the ideas carried forward by those in the masks are more important than the individual messengers.  Because the mask provides the freedom to speak your mind openly.  Because the mask can let you see that you are not alone, that there are others who feel as you feel and are unwilling to take it anymore without a fight.  That even as you take away some masked troublemaker, there are more behind them making sure the message is still heard.  You might stop some messengers, but you can not stop the idea.

    That or its all for the lulz…

    1. Taking a step back, though, I really missed the part where the guy 400 years ago was part of some great ideal, instead of one more fighter in the messy conflict between Catholicism and early Protestantism. I understand the values the mask stands for, but if someone could explain why the man himself is extolled with them, I would appreciate it.

      1.  It became a cloak around the figure in a comic/graphic novel and a movie.  The goal of the character was the same as Guy Fawkes blowing up Parliament to help motivate people to stop accepting the demands of a Government he knew was more concerned with itself rather than its people. 
        This idea resonates because lets face it… look outside, Right now our Governments appear to be using the stories found in 1984 and V for Vendetta as blueprints.
        They came for smaller groups first, those they made look undesirable and to blame for the ills of society and we accepted this.  They repeated this pattern and now they are up to some “regular” folk who are shocked they are suddenly a threat.  These people are often afraid to speak up for fear of being picked next.  (Protestors and Dissent are now considered unpatriotic, this is confounding in the US where protest and dissent founded the country and were enshrined in the documents creating the nation.)

        I think it would meddle with the current view of the situation to inject the it was just a religious fight.  At the core the issues were people unhappy with how the Government treated them and their concerns.  The Governments are concerned with the masks, they can’t tell who is a player in the game when they are in their everyday lives.  They do not know who to target, and when they pick poorly the costs to them are dear.  Poor Aaron Barr.  The exert control and fear, and in response people in masks shatter their control and laugh.  They might get one or 2 people, and the recently leaked conference call raises questions about how successful they really have been in those efforts.  Catching someone who just boasts how they are part of the movement, means you got nothing.

        They are concerned with their image and composure… how sad they must feel when a bunch of randoms in a mass produced plastic mask make them look foolish, expose the secrets, and expose hypocrisy.

        That or Hugo Weaving made a huge impression on a buncha teenagers who thought capes and mask made them look manly.

        Take your pick.

  2. I’ve actually been disappointed by this op-ed, it feels very disjointed and not at all as fluent as  his usual prose. I wonder if it was hacked to death by the BBC newsroom, or maybe he’s made a conscious effort to “go easy” on the unwashed masses who read the site.

  3. @That_Anonymous_Coward:disqus 

    ” or its all for the lulz…”

    Why do we have to make this an “OR”?  Can’t it be an “AND” instead?

    -abs thinks there’s more going on here than just one reason

      1. Well, I get slack when I tell uncomfortable truths to people.  And slack makes me lolz.  So I think it’s pretty fun.  (though I’ll admit it’s frustrating when someone ignores reality)

        -abs does acknowledge that not everyone gets their lulz the same way as him

  4. Well, whatever. It’s just like the ban-the-bomb symbol or the ‘high-five’, one of them things that catches on.

  5. I particularly love that Warner Brothers are getting royalties for the sale of these masks. Mixed emotions in the boardroom, I imagine. And it’s probably going to be the thing that stops DC deciding to exploit V for Vendetta the way they’re now exploiting Watchmen. Which can be no bad thing…

  6. Yeah sure, it could provide a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theater .
    Or it could just be the Epic Fail Guy meme. But “for the lulz” is not as uplifting to some people I guess.

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