« | »

‘Vendetta’ Mask Symbolizes OWS Ignorance

From a fawning Associated Press:

‘Vendetta’ mask becomes symbol of Occupy protests

By TAMARA LUSH and VERENA DOBNIK – Associated Press
November 4, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — Look at a photo or news clip from around the world of Occupy protesters and you’ll likely spot a handful of people wearing masks of a cartoon-like man with a pointy beard, closed-mouth smile and mysterious eyes.

The mask is a stylized version of Guy Fawkes, an Englishman who tried to bomb the British Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605.

Guy Fawkes was part of the infamous ‘Gunpowder Plot,’ where a small group of English Catholics sought to assassinate King James I. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the opening of England’s Parliament on 5 November 1605, which they thought would lead to a popular uprising which would install Kind James’s nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, on the thrown. Elizabeth was a Catholic.

Fawkes and his eight of his surviving co-conspirators were sentenced to be drawn and quartered. Treason being considered to be a serious crime at the time. Guy Fawkes Day (the Observance of 5th November Act) is an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November,’ was meant to be a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten.

"They’re very meaningful masks," said Alexandra Ricciardelli, who was rolling cigarettes on a table outside her tent in New York’s Zuccotti Park two days before the anniversary of Fawkes’ failed bombing attempt.

"It’s not about bombing anything; it’s about being anonymous — and peaceful."

Has anyone reported Ms. Ricciardelli’s use of tobacco to Mayor Bloomberg?

To the 20-year-old from Keyport, N.J., the Fawkes mask "is about being against The Man — the power that keeps you down."

And never mind that Mr. Fawkes sought to blow up England’s parliament, the world’s first insitution dedicated to representative government.

But history books didn’t lead to the mask’s popularity: A nearly 30-year-old graphic novel and a five-year-old movie did.

"V for Vendetta," the comic-based movie whose violent, anarchist antihero fashions himself a modern Guy Fawkes and rebels against a fascist government has become a touchstone for young protesters in mostly western countries. While Warner Brothers holds the licensing rights to the Guy Fawkes mask, several protesters said they were using foreign-made copies to circumvent the corporation.

Naturally these sub-literate children would latch on to a comic book and a fantasy movie, and be pig ignorant of any actual history.

By the way, the Guy Fawkes of the comic books and movies does not look much like the Guy Fawkes of history, who was a powerfully built man with a bushy red beard.

Yet whether the inspiration is the comic, the movie or the historical figure, the imagery — co-opted today by everyone from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the hacker group Anonymous — carries stronger connotations than some of the Occupy protesters seem to understand.

While Fawkes’ image has been romanticized over the past 400 years, he was a criminal who tried to blow up a government building. It would be hard to imagine Americans one day wearing Timothy McVeigh masks to protest the government or corporate greed

Somehow we can easily imagine some people wearing ‘Bill Ayers’ masks.

Fawkes was a Catholic insurrectionist executed for the bombing attempt. In the years immediately following his execution, Nov. 5 was England’s official celebration for defeating Fawkes, said [Lewis Call, an assistant history professor at California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo], who has written about the nexus of Fawkes, "V for Vendetta" and modern-day protests.

Call said over the next three centuries, people in England started using Fawkes’ image in different ways. Some used Fawkes as a symbol for putting limits on state power. Others held him up as a freedom fighter.

But the ‘lower classes’ have always used Guy Fawkes Day as an excuse for mayhem. According to Wikipedia (which provides footnotes):

"For the lower classes, however, the anniversary [of the Gunpowder Plot] was a chance to pit disorder against order, a pretext for violence and uncontrolled revelry… Gradually, Gunpowder Treason Day became Guy Fawkes Day. In 1790 The [London] Times reported instances of children "…begging for money for Guy Faux", and a report of 4 November 1802 described how "a set of idle fellows … with some horrid figure dressed up as a Guy Faux" were convicted of begging and receiving money, and committed to prison as "idle and disorderly persons"…

Lower class rioting continued, with reports in Lewes of annual rioting, intimidation of "respectable householders" and the rolling through the streets of lit tar barrels. In Guildford, gangs of revellers who called themselves "guys" terrorised the local population; proceedings were concerned more with the settling of old arguments and general mayhem, than any historical reminiscences."

So things have not really changed all that much. The idlers and ne’er do wells of today are just doing what they have always done.

Nearly two years after the film "V for Vendetta" was released, the hacker group Anonymous wore the Guy Fawkes masks depicted in the movie during protests against the Church of Scientology. Then came Wikileaks and the Occupy movement.

Anonymous is the heroic group of basement dwelling adolescents who hack websites, such the website of the Epilepsy Foundation of America. Anonymous bravely posted JavaScript code and flashing computer animations on the foundation’s site to trigger migraine headaches and seizures in photosensitive and pattern-sensitive epileptics.

At Zuccotti Park in New York, the Guy Fawkes masks have been worn over the past month by Occupy protesters ranging from self-proclaimed anarchists to drummers to those impersonating "zombie" bankers. Few wore them Thursday afternoon because of the arrests of masked activists. But they weren’t gone — just hidden.

One was in the left hand of 32-year-old Jason J. Cross — right under a protest sign. He had 20 more stashed in his tent, to be sold at $5 apiece. "I had 10 here yesterday, and I sold out!" he said. Cross said he’d purchased 100 of the Chinese-made masks online.

After all, what could be a better way to protest the poor state of the US economy and the dangers of too powerful governments than to buy masks from China?

"The origins of this mask comes from the idea of rising up against the government," he said. "Guy Fawkes represents the fact that the people have the real power."

Just like in China.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, November 4th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “‘Vendetta’ Mask Symbolizes OWS Ignorance”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    Funny, I don’t remember such a glowing expose about the Gadsden flag during the TEA party rallies.

    Also, a popular thing to do was burn Guy Fawkes effigies on Nov 5. Hopefully that tradition finds its way to America too.

  2. canary says:

    The Oakland CA OWS photos were of scary muslims.

    In my neck of the woods they got more media attention and even photos than the thousands that showed up a tea parties hidden by our liberal media.

    Pehaps the one with only a few was the tatooed head to toe freak.

    As far as the “big one” planned for weeks promising students from colleges and universities across the state only ended up with 200 in nice weather, and they got a photo not worth remembering; signs from old beat up cardboard and scribbling. So, I’d say it’s a few that are gathering the homeless who actually enjoy their makeshift homes when they don’t find an unlocked car or trash bin to sleep in. The shelters won’t let them back in til morning breakfast, if they choose to leave during the night to score a bottle or look for cigarette butts.

  3. tranquil.night says:

    What was that about Tea Party Cultists?

  4. Anonymoose says:

    I never read the book, but sat through the movie; and I can see why it’s popular with the Occupy crowd, as it touches all their buttons. Somehow in a future Britain that looks just like today but seems caught in the zeitgeist of 1984 the far religious right (which doesn’t exist in Britain) takes over and goes after muslims, gays and anyone they decree unworthy. One of the characters was gay and killed for keeping a 14th century Koran in his home because he liked the poetry—the ironies in that boggle the mind, but is swallowed wholesale by the Occupiers.

    Personally, I’m waiting for them to break into factions of Guy Fawkes masks and Che Guevara t-shirts and duke it out.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »