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I am a neolibertarian minded individual who feels that freedom and individual rights take precedence over the wants of government. I believe government exists to serve the people and not to protect us from ourselves. I am an advocate for private firearms ownership, smaller government, reduced taxes and freedom to live your life however you choose, providing you do not directly hurt others.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

V for Vendetta

People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

I just returned from seeing the movie V for Vendetta. As you might expect from the general tone of this blog, I tend to like movies where people oppose oppressive governments in favor of freedom. Thus, any movie that is promoted using the above quote is one I'm likely to go see.

While I have never read the comic books that the movie is said to be based on, I really enjoyed this movie. For those who know nothing about it, here's a rough synopsis of the plot, hopefully without any major spoilers:

In the near future, the
UKseems to have survived an apocalyptic global war. A fascist regime has risen to power, and people live under something dangerously close to marshal law. Media is under government control, and news stories feature government propaganda more often than truth. Violating nightly curfews can lead to immediate and inhumane punishments. Possessing banned books or publicly expressing dissent can cause you to disappear in the middle of the night.

From this atmosphere emerges a highly educated and articulate mask-wearing dissident proficient in martial arts, demolitions and subversive propaganda. He has been wronged even more than most, and goes on a violent vendetta against the government that has harmed him. As part of that vendetta, he attempts to rally public support and encourage people to stand up to their totalitarian government.

The story is told with dramatic flair, sometimes reminding the viewer of a stylistic cross between the "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Matrix". Because of this dramatization, realism is often sacrificed for the sake of visual impact, theatrical effects and advancing the plot. Fortunately, I rather enjoyed these indulgences and did not find them detrimental to the cinematic experience.

What was most important about this movie, in my mind, is the story. Movies like this help remind everyone that government can go wrong, and that it is indeed up to the people to keep it in check. If government runs amok, it is because people looked the other way and allowed it to keep encroaching upon freedom until freedom was utterly consumed. This is a message that I think needs to repeated as often as possible, so that we do not forget our heritage.

This message is particularly apropos in a time where our leaders are trying to force us to choose between freedom and security. The Patriot Act, National ID cards, RFIDs in passports, and the governmental scrutiny of communication, financial transactions and internet search engines are all issues at the front of modern politics.

My main regret is that I would have liked to see the protagonist portrayed a little more as a legitimate revolutionary and a little less as a nihilist or terrorist. Perhaps this could have been done by expanding his motives beyond personal vengeance and better explaining how the UK was reduced to this pseudo-fascist state. A 1-3 minute intro showing newspaper headlines and or news video clips rattling off various oppressive laws that were passed in response to current problems would have helped to set the tone of him opposing an unjust regime. It took quite a while to get a feel for what life was like in that society for the average apathetic Joe and why common people could be inspired to resist this system. While the movie does mostly explain this before the end, I think a brief explanation at the beginning would have made it all seem a bit more real. (There was also an interrogation sequence that I found troubling, but I can't go into that here without giving away too much for people who haven't seen it.)

I think that for the most part, regular readers of this blog will enjoy the movie. Many blog writers worry that conservatives may not like this movie, but this might be to much of a generalization. Although the movie does admittedly contain elements that could be construed as criticism of the Bush administration (i.e. the pursuit of terrorists leading to increased governmental oppression), I felt that it was more a general criticism of invasive government in all of its forms. Extreme leftism/liberalism is no less oppressive than extreme conservatism, and the plot of this film could have just as easily been furthered by a hypothetical oppressive socialist or communist regime as it was by the fascist government that was depicted. Keep in mind that the story is based on a British comic written in the early 1980's and thus couldn't have been specficially about current U.S. Politics. If some conservatives feel that this movie hits too close to home, they should look at what their party is doing wrong rather than accuse this movie of unfairly targeting them.

I liked this movie well enough that I'm considering buying the graphic novel that it was based on, especially as I have heard that it does a better job of dealing with some of my concerns about the movie:

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