Amongst the many things I find pissing me off about the various protests and occupations in the name of thirty thousand unrelated issues anti-capitalism, my biggest peeve at the moment is the misappropriation of symbols, specifically the stylised Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta.
Firstly there’s the core concept, the origin, which despite being one of my favourite festivities (explosions, fire, barbecued deadpig, what’s not to love?) I am sick of the lack of understanding that regards Bonfire Night.
Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.
I find no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.
Read that. read it again. Read it in your least sing-song voice and pay attention to every single word. You might as well be singing Baa Baa Fucking Black Sheep. Bonfire Night is not a celebration of Guy Fawkes, it is a warning against similar revolutionary action. That’s why we burn an effigy. We don’t celebrate Christmas by setting fire to Jesus (Romans and twatty angry college kids notwithstanding).
Why all this lauding and terror for one man? Why, because he tried to simultaneously kill the monarch, all members of parliament, and destroy the physical symbol of their power. Hence my distaste of his image and legacy being used to bitch about fractional percentage tax increases and non-critical hits on how the ruling class who have shat on you since the birth of man should share their wealth with you so you can buy a bigger TV and smoke more pot in the dole queue.
Ok, ok… Alan Moore‘s use of the Guy Fawkes mask is (in the drastically-different-from-source film at least) most identified with a Masses against the Classes moment of coming together as the simple folk marching on those in power, not as individuals or even people but as a unified ideal or concept that want the state to know that enough is enough.
I’m still not finding that sits right. You’re protesting hunting, you’re protesting benefit cuts, you’re (quite rightly) protesting the reduction of Primary Care Trusts. You’re protesting that there’s too much fruit in cheese and not enough meat on pizza. The sense of unity that a masked populace creates is resolved solely for an endgame where the details are no longer important, where those in power can no longer be relied upon to fix things but have to pack up the entire system and fuck off with it.
This is not that moment.
If you want to delve further into the close-to-the-bone fiction of V for Vendetta, take note of the fact that the Hitler-esque figure of Chancellor Sutcliffe rose to power amidst the failings of a Conservative government to control a bitching, protesting populace with no real unified ideas or potential behind their bitching. Sound familiar? The more you rattle your sabres and set up camps in secluded public parks were no-one can see you or cares why you’re there, the more red tape will be rolled out to strangle you with.
This is not a crisis moment or a tipping point. It is too early for Guy Fawkes masks, and you’re using them wrong.