OPINION – I’m not a movie critic. Nor do I play one on the radio. But I recently revisited a motion picture that struck such a strong chord within me that I’m recommending it for your consideration.
The fact that it is rated R for strong violence and some strong language will preclude some from viewing it. Whether you choose to see it or not, the 2006 film “V for Vendetta” offers some timely food for thought.
Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, the story is set in a near future dystopian England where the authoritarian Norsefire party rules with oppressive ruthlessness. Symbols of faith have been co-opted and draconian laws and regulations seek to compel the peoples’ allegiance to the party at all costs.
In the story, biological attacks attributed to terrorists have turned England into a virtual police state of constant surveillance, curfews, and unlimited police powers. The Supreme Chancellor uses a lapdog media and a blustery, pill-popping talk show host, known as the Voice of London, to spin the news and keep the populace stirred up against dissenters.
Standing up against the oppressive state is the anarchist anti-hero V; former victim of the party’s concentration camp cruelty and inhumanity. V is pursuing a personal vendetta against those who destroyed his life along with so many others. He seeks to personally punish those who created the police state and to bring down the authoritarian state by rallying the people to withdraw their support.
At one point V takes over the state television facilities and reminds the people that they each bear personal responsibility for the government they now have. He invites them to reclaim their prerogative as free people and reject the party’s demands for absolute obedience.
Here is where we must tread carefully, because it’s not V’s anarchist methods that make this film noteworthy.
The film’s power is found in its portrayal of how any government can use fear as a tool to encourage its people to place their absolute trust in the state, in return for a false promise of safety and security. As the Supreme Chancellor desperately tries to maintain his grasp over England he insists his media lackeys and his politicized police keep the people in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. His directive is simple, “We must remind these people why they need us.”
This is the place where the lines of Hollywood fiction and reality appear to cross.
Though we do not yet live in a full-blown totalitarian state with prison camps, there are some seriously dystopian aspects of a police state taking hold in our country today. Thanks to the heroic whistle-blowing of people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, we are learning that our government is not above abusing its powers too.
We have massive electronic surveillance of millions of Americans without any specific probable cause to do so. The police powers of the state are becoming increasingly arbitrary and unlimited. The vast majority of American media has a strong attachment to party line over principle and treats dissent as akin to treason.
It’s as if those in power are trying very hard to convince us that “we need them.”
The movie has a dramatic comic book quality in its action scenes and there is an unmistakable anarchist slant to its story. However, there is also a lesson in “V for Vendetta” that translates perfectly into real life: When, in the grip of fear, we allow the state to exercise unchecked authority in dealing with its enemies – it will eventually use that authority against us as well.
This is worth remembering when government at any level seeks to “protect” us with official actions from monsters that exist primarily in the minds of bureaucrats eager to use their power. “It’s for your safety” is fast becoming an Orwellian catchphrase for justifying increased government control at all levels.
We must be willing to question what those in power are saying.
The concept that people shouldn’t fear their government but government should fear its people is neither a liberal nor conservative idea. But in a free society it is a valid one.
That’s why I recommend “V for Vendetta” to anyone who values their freedom over bogus promises of security. This film will make you think.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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