Notes from Underground


"V for Vendetta"
P for Preposterous



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Editor's note. Those who do not watch television may complain that Mr. Nowicki opens this column with a "spoiler," but TV viewers will recall that the crazed promoters of the movie, in their campaign to sell it, have already committed spoilage, featuring the scene that Mr. Nowicki describes in every one of their commercials! — Nicholas Strakon

"V for Vendetta," a new high-budget futuristic science-fiction movie, concludes with a depiction of a terrorist strike on the Houses of Parliament in London. Thanks to convincingly realistic computer graphics, we see the historic building go up in flames, while a crowd of people in ghastly Halloween masks — of the "Friday the 13th" or "Scream" variety — gather and cheer. Just in case you were wondering, this event is rendered as a happy ending, an occasion in which a fascistic, genocidal regime is brought down by a spontaneous uprising of fed-up common folk. The terrorists here are the good guys.

Following this climatic scene, the credits roll, and we are treated to a rock anthem by the Rolling Stones, in which Mick Jagger proclaims, "The time has come for violent revolution." One does not sense any intended irony here, even when the Warner Brothers logo flashes on the screen. Hmmm ... revolution (a "violent" one, no less) as prescribed by a besotted multimillionaire pop star, featured in a movie bankrolled by multimillionaire movie producers and starring multimillionaire movie stars, seen mostly by theatergoers of far more modest means ... and they're telling us to rise up against "the Man"? They'd better be careful what they wish for.

The movie's ridiculous ending is in keeping with the rest of "V for Vendetta," an intermittently entertaining but ultimately tedious and gratingly self-important movie that would be easy to dismiss as just plain silly, were it not for the bad taste it leaves in one's mouth. Walking out of the theater, I recalled how I felt after seeing Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" a few years ago. Like "Vendetta," "Killers" was a movie that sought to be socially relevant and aesthetically daring. It was supposed to be a satire of the media's obsession with violence and tragedy, but in fact it amounted to a glorification of its serial-killer protagonists. It claimed to be an indictment of a sick and evil society, but actually it was a sick and evil movie that encouraged us to root for murderers — they might have their flaws, but hell, at least they aren't hypocrites — and jeer at their hapless victims. It came as no surprise to me that the movie inspired a rash of real-life killings. Make the murder of innocent people look incredibly cool and sexy, and guess what? Some unstable, impressionable types may feel inspired to make life (and death) imitate art.

It is hard to understand how anyone could take a degenerate drug-addled celebrity's call for "violent revolution" seriously, except maybe degenerate drug-addled music critics who wish they were Mick Jagger. Just so, it is hard to understand how viewers could take a movie such as "V for Vendetta" in the manner in which it so desperately wishes to be taken: as a brilliant dystopian vision of an "all too likely" future or some such. In fact, the future as pictured by "V" has no bearing whatsoever on present trends. The greatest dystopian stories, such as the seminal and ubiquitous 1984 by George Orwell and the less remarked upon but still remarkable Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, are impressive for how prophetic they turned out to be. The first envisioned the rise of the modern totalitarian state, while the latter portrayed the therapeutic state run amok. Both, of course, were intended as hyperbole — no current state has reached the extremes depicted in these stories — but that does not mean that the futures they predicted "didn't come true." In fact, today's states tend to be both more totalitarian and more therapeutic than in the past. There is a bit of North Korea and a bit of Sweden in nearly every contemporary state.

"V for Vendetta," by contrast, is laughably off key in nearly every way. Even taken as hyperbole, extrapolating a nightmare future from current societal tendencies, it hits nowhere near the mark. In another thirty or forty years, England may well go to the dogs, but I am willing to wager money that it won't happen in the way depicted in the film. Perhaps British authorities will someday carry out a massive rounding up of homosexuals, but it won't be at the order of a fascist, white-supremacist government. Instead, if such a decree is issued, it will come after England has become part of Eurabia, having seen its native white population dwindle to nothing while at the same time being swamped by Middle Eastern immigrants, until the latter become the majority and see fit to impose Muslim sharia law.

And even in the unlikely event that immigration ceases and native birthrates again rise, it won't be the result of a takeover by a Hitler clone and an inexplicable return of the Nazi aesthetic — goose-stepping jackbooted black-shirted soldiers, swastika-like flags, shrieking, ranting dictators pounding on podiums in front of fanatical, roaring crowds with collectively sieg-heiling arms and snarling faces, and so forth. As visually arresting as these "Triumph of the Will" images continue to be (perhaps accounting for the large number of movies that continue to be made about National Socialism), left-leaning film directors need to come to terms with the fact that Hitler isn't coming back, nor is the Horst Wessel song. Left-wing fearmongers in general need to get a grip and realize that practicing homosexuality and opposing racism is not "dangerous" or "edgy," particularly in today's European Union; such habits of behavior and thought are, in fact, entirely mainstream. Today, it is men such as David Irving and Nick Griffin who face prison sentences, not avid sodomites or advocates of anti-white policies.

Why do leftists, who enjoy a near monopoly of all opinion-shaping institutions in the West, always seem so sure that traditional fascism is just around the corner? In my book The Psychology of Liberalism I argue that left-leaners must always see themselves as an oppressed, embattled minority, and must never admit to themselves that their ideas are the ones in ascendancy, because then they would be unable to congratulate themselves for taking supposedly "unpopular" positions. The makers of "V for Vendetta" seem to be living in an England of an alternate universe, in which the way to get in real trouble is to be homosexual, not "homophobic"; where those despised by the establishment are racial minorities, not allegedly "racist" whites; and where the biggest future threat is a takeover by a Nazi-like regime, not the rising demographic threat of radical Islam or the grinding totalitarianism of the new EU order with its politically correct laws forbidding the expression of pro-white, pro-West, or pro-Christian ideas. Needless to say, the fantasy world of the liberal mind, which expresses the greatest fears about the ideologies that are most powerless and most relentlessly denounced and repressed, rivals anything written by Lewis or Tolkien.

Even so, why not turn off your mind and enjoy the movie as a slick sci-fi action thriller? I wish I could have, but something about that ending, with its call for "violent revolution," really stuck in my craw. As with "Natural Born Killers," or the more recent, aggressively pretentious "Matrix" trilogy, "V" simply has no sense of fun. It refuses to depict political and social revolt with a smile and a wink, as the far more sophisticated "Fight Club" did in 1999. Instead, it demands that we take Jagger's invitation to be righteously violent with utter seriousness. That ugly, irresponsible message winds up ruining whatever may have been entertaining about the movie, and leads one to wonder whether some unhinged "Vendetta" fanatic might decide to unleash his own brand of murderous mayhem in the near future.

March 30, 2006

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