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Review :: Politics
T for Terrorism
13 Apr 2006
T for Terrorism
By Christian Greer and Micah Lee

The Student Underground
http://www.thestudentunderground.org/article.php?id=179&issue=56
It has come to a point where almost anytime the word “terrorism” is even whispered, let alone depicted in print or on screen, people completely loose all cognitive ability. Without even mentioning the March 9th renewal of the abominable Patriot Act, it is plain to see that post-September 11 America is a landscape shrouded in fear. Consequentially, it comes to no surprise to see review upon review denouncing the film V for Vendetta for its supposed glamorization of terrorism.

The Matrix famed Wachowski brothers penned the (significantly) adapted versions of acclaimed writer and anarchist Alan Moore’s serialized comic bearing the same name. The film, similar to the comic, depicts a masked man known only as V, opposing an oppressive Orwellian regime by assassinating corrupt government officials and bombing large government buildings.

Yet, the audience is never quite sure whether V’s actions characterize him as a terrorist, a revolutionary, or a freedom fighter. Frankly, the film does not seem concerned with distinguishing between the roles. The problem is any jerko with an internet blog or media outlet has the ability to interpret the character any way they want (usually as a terrorist) and by doing so launch into a tirade about the terrors of terrorism, and the irresponsibility of leaving such a terrorizing character ambiguous, if not likeable

Characterizing the protagonist, V, as a terrorist is about as insightful as saying Wesley Snipes is black. Nevertheless, reviewers like Newsweek’s Jeff Giles feel that the film’s dialogue is “likely to offend anyone who’s not, say, a suicide bomber.” His unwavering stance on the depiction of terrorism in any form, from any perspective, is silly. It seems that Jeff Giles is articulating a common sentiment among American moviegoers, depicting an ambiguous, if not attractive, character blowing up buildings (even if they are unoccupied) in the struggle against tyranny is irresponsible and unacceptable. And while the evils of terrorism are plain to see, no American can afford to further shrug their responsibility to confront what terrorism is, how “terrorists” end up with that label, and who gets to decide. As we know from, for example, the American invasion of Iraq, not everyone who blows up buildings (even occupied ones) is a terrorist.

America’s heritage is littered with violent reactions to oppression, beginning with its inception as a country and continuing in high-school literature classes all over America: The Sons of Liberty, lead by Samuel Adams, targeted a British commercial vessel when it lead the Boston Tea Party; Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco; American schools teaching 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World as necessary texts in the Western canon. Hell, even Jesus, in each of the four gospels, went around claiming he was going to destroy the Jerusalem temple, the center of global Judaism, when he was alive. And even if Jesus was not enough, think of Braveheart: To the English, was William Wallace not a terrorist?

V’s ambiguity reflects America’s uncertainty regarding political violence. The American psyche is schizophrenic in its acceptance and denunciation of terrorism. America must reject the urge to ignore how we feel about terrorism, revolution, and freedom. The knee-jerk reaction to this film illuminates the taboos created by the 9/11 tragedy and perhaps that is why so many find offense in it. The film begs the reader to confront the notion of a heroic “terrorist,” and the evil of apathy, two taboos that the post 9/11 America may not be ready to discard. However, the film does not stop there; it even calls into question America’s current fear of Islam and its rejection of homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation. And wouldn’t you believe it, this is just the watered-downed Hollywood version of the story.

Alan Moore, the story’s original author, was so enraged at the fact that his revolutionary and anti-capitalist tale was adapted into a glossy, money-making, cash cow that he actually disowned the movie. Hollywood, while still delivering a punch, took the anarchy out of the story, a formerly pivotal aspect of the tale. As Moore put it, “One of the things I objected to in the recent film ... recasting it as current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism. There wasn’t a mention of anarchy as far as I could see.” Because, as is painfully obvious for everyone paying attention, the current American liberalism isn’t kicking it either. V’s anarchist bent is never mentioned in the film even though the comic makes it explicitly clear. The movie makes it seem as if he’s fighting for, if anything, chaos. For more information on V for Vendetta and anarchism, check out www.aforanarchy.com.

That said, the film is provocative and stirring, and deserves a viewing. Regardless of your position on political violence or your definition of terrorism, if more films were made like this, maybe more people would be willing to stand up and fight the government for a change.
See also:
http://www.thestudentunderground.org/article.php?id=179&issue=56

This work is in the public domain
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Comments

Re: T for Terrorism
14 Apr 2006
Hollywood's fantasy of a revolution safely removed from what an average American would identify as the Present: Suburbs. Boring. Natalie Portman is a bright lady; but her idea of revolutiionary cinema is this film and Star Wars.

Save you $.
S is for Stupid
14 Apr 2006
Figure it out.
D is for Dumb Ass
14 Apr 2006
Maybe they'll figure this one out.
Re: T for Terrorism
14 Apr 2006
v is a long long way at the end of the alphabet? I don't think I've ever gone that far. It's scary.