Occupy Wall Street, Hackers To Celebrate Failed Terror Attack, B Movie

November 3, 2011 - 9:29 PM

“Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...”
– British poem

You may or may not remember it, but odds are you’ve seen the movie “V for Vendetta” or read a similar comic book. It’s almost the 5th of November, and Occupy Wall Street in all of its incarnations is about to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with a bang. Protestors plan to pull money from banks and the hacker group Anonymous has vowed to “destroy the Fox News website.” The left sure knows how to party.

Guy Fawkes, for the less geeky (or less English) among you, was an English Catholic who tried to blow up Parliament about 500 years ago. He failed, but England still celebrates the date of his foiled attempt as a holiday – complete with fireworks. 

But at Occupy Wall Street events around the world, Guy Fawkes and the movie “V for Vendetta” have been popularized and become icons of the movement. The scary “V” masks, complete with fancy mustache and tiny goatee, were the second most popular novelty clothing item for Amazon prior to Halloween and there are more than 1,200 Guy Fawkes items for sale on eBay. One-time MSNBC anchor turned CurrentTV host Keith Olbermann even wore a mask during his Halloween broadcast.(Perhaps he was just hiding his face out of embarrassment given where he’s now working.)

But this modern day popularity started as a mid-‘80s comic book, critical of the divide between Thatcherite conservatives and protesters in England. Author Alan Moore has also written other graphic novel staples that made it into poorly done movies – from “The Watchmen” to “Constantine” to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” In the original “V,” a small nuclear war had cut off Britain and fascists had taken over. 

The movie was released in 2006, at the height of media and lefty Bush-bashing, updated into a heavy-handed attack on the Republican administration. Though the film was still based in England, it became in the words of Moore, a thwarted and frustrated and perhaps largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values [standing up] against a state run by neo-conservatives — which is not what "V for Vendetta" was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about [England].”

Nevertheless, it still had cool graphics, including a particularly well-done domino scene to create the movie logo. And it had lots of scenes of protest and rebellion, so young libs loved it. At $70 million box office, it did well enough to be the thirty-sixth most popular movie of the year – landing behind such big names as “RV” and “Jackass: Number Two.”

Five years later, it has become a cornerstone of the movement the same way “Easy Rider” did for a previous generation. Sure, “V for Vendetta” lacks the Dennis Hopper/Peter Fonda motorcycle cool, but it does have Natalie Portman, who has huge geek cred for having been in three “Star Wars” films. 

Throw in the fact that the masks also offer anonymity for either the overly paranoid or hackers who are often committing criminal acts and you have a cultural hit. Tune in to an Anonymous video threatening to bring down some great evil – capitalism, police, or drug cartels (equal in the eyes of the left) – and there’s an announcer’s face shrouded in a Guy Fawkes mask. Those who have seen the movie half expect the announcer to quote the film, saying: “There is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?”

Lacking Moore’s talent for dialogue, the Anonymous videos take a darker, more loony turn. One video declares “the bankers are the problem” and fantasizes about “frontier justice” on Wall Street. Other videos sound comic-booky in their threats: “We do not forgive. We do not forget. We are silent no more,” said by an anonymous Anonymous speaker with a Guy Fawkes mask on. The catch phrases have crept into Occupier culture. One recent livestreamer for the movement ranted at police, shouting “we are legion,” a common Anonymous phrase.

Often it’s hard to tell if you are watching a fan fiction version of the movie or someone trying to make a legitimate point. As a result, both fail. And the Occupy Wall Street movement finds itself as the natural evolution of a group based on a comic book, a B-movie and a failed act of terrorism – it has good graphics and can muster gripping protest video of battles with police. But it lacks the substance of a real movement, while retaining the potential threat.

But many Occupiers are working on that, thinking back to their movie inspiration for a quote to help them: “People should not be afraid of their government. Government should be afraid of their people.” (Of course, not afraid of these people, who desperately want more and bigger government.) That revolutionary tone is what’s behind Occupy Wall Street. Sure, it might seem like life is imitating art – mediocre art at that. But that art recalled a very real revolutionary attack on parliament. Occupy Wall Street is attempting to merge those two realities – the comic book world with real world revolution. 

So, just because they sound and often look cartoonish in their Guy Fawkes regalia, take them seriously. Both Fawkes and the lead character in the movie meant to have a very bloody revolution. That is the model Occupy Wall Street relies on.

Editor's Note: Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.


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