Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Notwithstanding the deviance the American writers of James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta (Silver, 2006) have taken to stray from the original plot of the graphic novel in which the movie was based, a slew of deviant acts was also observable in the film. It can be said that the film’s plot was thus customized in order to contextualize the deviant acts in today’s socio-political location.
In V for Vendetta, V is a terrorist who dares take on Norsefire, a Nazi-like regime that tortures and murders people deemed misfits to the society. V wants to prove this fascist government wrong and to liberate the whole population from its slavery. Nonetheless, this totalitarian regime gets attacked by V in an ironical manner: via deviance that Norsefire is so familiar with. He methodically murders people linked to Norsefire by guiltlessly torturing them to craziness and death. He also bombs establishments like the Ear and the Mouth, killing numerous civilians. He manipulates Evey to be his unknowing accomplice by torturing and brainwashing her until she accepts his grim and determined point of view of seeing things in a vigilante’s way.
Terrorism as shown in the film is an act of deviance because it threatens the security of countries, in this film’s case the futuristic Britain. In V for Vendetta as well as the context in which it is produced, security threats have resulted to many losses of lives, the destruction of properties, large-scale injuries, the displacements of huge masses and economic devastation. V’s terrorism uses violence against persons and the fascist regime for purposes of public intimidation and coercion. Instead of letting the hands of the law work for social justice, V challenges the rule of legalities since the very government that must wield justice and peace for people is the very institution that violates this rule with its terrorism. The basic issues of morality, the nature of justice, the boundaries of bureaucracy and the ethical authority of legitimate governance are being warped by V for his one-sided belief that he is just enacting a vendetta. In the process of challenging the law, V puts forward the value of vigilantism. While it is morally laudable to right the criminally wrong, it becomes ambiguous when executed through wrongful means. As manifested in the brainwashed Evey, he attempts to convince citizens that Norsefire is powerless to prevent terrorism that it itself spawns. V wants to turn the tables by victimizing the criminals who make victims out of people. He is pushing the value that his acts are justifiable in the name of the anti-fascist cause he is fighting for. Just the perception of the deviance in the film as something that incites revolutionary participation from the people already poses moral dilemma. Getting people to act like vigilantes as a means of freeing their mind is problematic, because the idea of heroes here gets distorted as they punish the guilty without trial and kill the innocent if they happen to get in the way. This is one radical direction heroism can go.
Films being reflective of life, V for Vendetta shows acts of deviance that mirror the terrorism in the real world. While viewers like me may find ourselves sympathetic of V for the democratic freedom he defends vigorously, his terror attacks are practically deplorable. His brand of terrorism is not unlike that of the Al Qaeda, that global alliance of Islamic militant groups responsible for the attack of civilian and military targets across nations. No matter how this fanatical base justifies its motivation about the 9/11 attacks on the United States, it is utterly inhumane in ruthlessly applying this drive to make the US pay for bullying the world into submission. Like V in the film, Al Qaeda is lost into thinking that anarchy is part of the cleansing process, disregarding the loss of civilian lives in its regional bombing activities. It is frightening to think that the involvement of innocent people during Al Qaeda’s terror attacks is necessarily included in the plan in order to punish these people for actually complying with the lone superpower country’s economic and political hostaging of American neo-colonies. In any case, V’s Al Qaeda-like terrorism can be purgative only for believers that the ends justify the means. For these twisted few, the violent actions may be extreme but change should be generated, so pain is a necessary evil that delivers social catharsis.