Category Archives: world view

Why Guy…?

What does the Celebration of the Defeat of a Plot to overthrow the English Monarchy have in common with a movement seeking financial responsibility of major American banks?

At first the only thing I could perceive was the date …or a very bad interpretation of Guy Fawkes Day.

Who was Guy and what did he do to get a day of his own?

Guy Fawkes PortraitGuy Fawkes, an English Catholic who, motivated by religious persecution from the Protestant monarchy of James I, was part of a plot to blow up the Houses of Lords, assassinate James and replace him with Princess Elizabeth.

Guy was discovered under Parliament on the evening of  November 5, 1604 with the explosives and after extensive torture was given a traitor’s execution.

The following year James 1 declared the Fifth of November a day to remember the continuation of the Protestant Monarchy, therefore celebrating the failure of the plot. Celebrations with firecrackers, bonfires and the burning of effigies of the pope continue to this day.

So, doesn’t this imply that future generations of American bankers will celebrate the failure of the Occupy movement?

Not quite. Through the 1980’s Alan Moore, in collaboration with artist David Lloyd, published a 10 issue graphic novel series named V for Vendetta.  The plot centers around the post-nuclear UK that is in the grips of the fascist “Norsefire” party. Inspired by the intended actions of the real Guy Fawkes, the main character, anarchist “V” uses over the top violent tactics to kill the leaders of the government and take down the system and release the people from tyranny.

Then the Americans got a hold of the story.

Corporate movie moguls Warner Brothers released an adaption of V for Vendetta in 2006.

After reading the script, Moore remarked:

[The movie] has been “turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country… It’s a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives — which is not what the comic V for Vendetta was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about England.”

Puce FawkesBut the cultural impact was very strong and the Guy Fawkes mask has been co-oped into the Occupy Movement, prompting artist David Lloyd to say:

“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way.”

So the irony of celebrating the failure of an overthrow of an oppressive regime has been replaced with the even more ironic fact that, the mask favored by the Occupy Movement and licensed by Time Warner is currently the top-selling mask on Amazon.com.

Why is that ironic?

The buying of these official versions of the mask is enriching two major American corporations (three if you count UPS).

As it goes…