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Arts and Culture

From ‘V’ to OWS: One Mask’s Story

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Posted on Oct 20, 2011
Flickr/ luccast85 (CC-BY)

Occupy Wall Street protesters have worn it, as have Anonymous hactivists, chief WikiLeaker Julian Assange and that guy who shared the screen with a shorn Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta” (that would be Hugo Weaving, who also appears in another cult conspiracy movie, “The Matrix”). But where did the dapper and sinister mask of Guy Fawkes’ face come from? The BBC knows all, tells all below.  —KA

BBC:

Early in the book V destroys the Houses of Parliament by blowing it up, something Fawkes had planned and failed to do in 1605.

British graphic novel artist David Lloyd is the man who created the original image of the mask for a comic strip written by Alan Moore. Lloyd compares its use by protesters to the way Alberto Korda’s famous photograph of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara became a fashionable symbol for young people across the world.

“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,” he says.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, October 25, 2011 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

You know people…

I really don’t like the way V fucked with Natalie Portman’s head (and I don’t mean the haircut).

I read the comic in middle school, didn’t get it, then saw the movie 20 or so years later and it was pretty well done, but… I dunno, it seemed kind of silly.

It is a cool mask though.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, October 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Nice to be a trend setter.

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By Marian Griffith, October 24, 2011 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well…
It looks like the days of usefulness of this discussion board have come to an end now that the spammers have found it, and a way to get past the captcha…

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Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, October 23, 2011 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

I’ve seen some strange goings-on over the past month at Amazon.  Until early October they had been offering a #1 bestseller of the Fawkes mask that was an exact ringer for the early Anonymous videos.  Now that one’s gone and replaced with about ten different versions, all subtly or not-so-subtly different from the original, and from each other.

More paranoia:  The one that arrived chez moi had three stickers on the inside.  Two were easy to peel off but the third and smallest, an identifier with a series of numbers on it, was made of the same material as car registration stickers and well-nigh impossible to peel off without an exacto or abrasive of some kind.

It occured to me that law enforcement could theoretically use this mask info to identify a purchase, and from there known associates and fellow travelers.

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By Marian Griffith, October 22, 2011 at 3:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@kerryrose
—-You are wrong in all your smugness.—-

Thank you for using your superior intellect to explain to poor little me that the tens of thousands of protestors of the occupy movement are in reality a couple of dozen computer geeks who hack government computers as part of their protest.
Without your well thought out and clearly expressed arguments I could never have understood…


And in case the sarcasm completey flew over your head: Anonymous may have inspired the usage of V’s Guy Fawkes mask, but the reason why it is finding more and more usage in anti-government protests is not because of Anonymous, but because of the powerful imagery of rebellion and ‘we are all this person who stood up against oppression’ that was given by the comic and especially the movie (since more people will be familiar with the simplified message of the movie).

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By Puamana, October 22, 2011 at 1:21 am Link to this comment

I don’t think it so much refers to the movie or book, as it does to the ‘anonymity’ signified by it.  It was taken up by Anonymous as a statement regarding the anonymity of wearing a mask, even if that mask refers to an insurrectionist character, when EVERYONE wears the mask, who is there to arrest? AND, who is there to do the arresting?

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

“Guy Fawkes Night”, so called in some places that have lingering celebrations, was simply “Bonfire Night” in the place where I spent the better part of my childhood.  There were routinely fires all over town and everyone knew one or more places where a fire was planned.  Choosing which fire to attend was like picking between concurrent house parties.  If the fire you attended wasn’t to your liking, on to the next.  The proportion of young people and beer at any given fire was directly linked to the liklihood of the party coming to a wet end.  The local fire department, mostly volunteer, was always busy on that wonderful evening.

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

“I’m sure some bright people out there read the Alan Moore book, watched the movie and decided to seek the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin etc., but it’s funny how people’s revolutionary manifesto these days is a movie.”

- Robespierre

It isn’t funny at all how the outlook of many, on so many things, is shaped.  Certainly not when you consider the popcorn we’re talking about mostly. 

Is that part of the problem, or does it beg additional questions?

Why? ...comes to mind.  (sympton vs cause, hint hint)

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, October 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

@diman, it’s also very telling how in modern culture people’s revolutionary examples to study and take seriously are fictional movie characters. I’m sure some bright people out there read the Alan Moore book, watched the movie and decided to seek the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin etc., but it’s funny how people’s revolutionary manifesto these days is a movie. Not to slam the movie or book, they are great, but just sayin’.

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ohiolibgal's avatar

By ohiolibgal, October 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

The words V speaks when he takes over the national TV network are so stirring and are a response to a society mainpulated over time to the far right like ours. There is even a fat radio blowhard just like Rush in this film.

Hopefully we can get real change now in our world. To do so we are going to need more and more folks to leave the uninformed and/or misinformed masses. The MSN is a complete joke right now considering what they don’t cover at all, what they bury, and their stupid false equivalency practice. Of course Faux News just out and out lies and distorts.

We like to call ourselves a democracy, it’s past time we get back to really being one.

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By From-afar, October 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For the longest time I have wondered where patrickhenry’s
picture came from. Best thing I have gotten from TD in a long
while.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, October 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

marian

‘This may have been the motivation for Anonymous, but the OWS is not Anonymous, and their symbolisms are different.’

You are wrong in all your smugness.

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By GradyLeeHoward, October 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Silver may have also dug up these related
headlines:

Iraq Contemplates the December Deportation of
45,000
Illegal American Aliens (Possibly to Iran)

Leon Panetta, A Son of the Originators of the
Occupy Movement, Today Boasted How Well It Has
Worked In Germany, Japan, South Korea and Panama

Under a Just Signed Free Trade Agreement with
Colombia the Company CIA Incorporated Will Exchange
a Quarter Million Good USA Jobs for Massive
Airlifts of Cocaine (oops, old news)

Keep up the tenacious research, Silver.

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By Marian Griffith, October 21, 2011 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

silver
—-I don’t know if it was meant to be ‘ironic’ or what, but it definitely wasn’t meant to be a symbol of insurrectionary justice, as it’s so often portrayed as. It was just a means of identifying people who belonged to the same ‘group’ and to show solidarity among those people.—-

This may have been the motivation for Anonymous, but the OWS is not Anonymous, and their symbolisms are different.
The mask represents, to a lot of people, fighting against the system, or it has come to represent that. Just as few people know who Guy Fawkes is or why his mask was used as a symbol for V by Alan Moore. At this point it doesn’t really matter anymore. It has become a symbol of its own, and people remember the powerful imagery from the movie of a huge crowd of people all wearing that mask marching on the seat of power to overthrow it.

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By Silver, October 21, 2011 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

Guys, seriously, do a bit more research. This shows a complete lack of understanding for internet culture/humor.

Anonymous is connected with the notorious 4chan site, right? That fact’s pretty well known. The reason the mask came about at all (at least for that crowd) was due to the ‘EFG’ or ‘epic fail guy’ meme. He donned the mask on some comment thread on the website, and ever since then it’s become a sort of meme-within-a-meme.

As far as the anonymous side of it goes, they only started wearing the masks with the scientology protests the did a few years back. I don’t know if it was meant to be ‘ironic’ or what, but it definitely wasn’t meant to be a symbol of insurrectionary justice, as it’s so often portrayed as. It was just a means of identifying people who belonged to the same ‘group’ and to show solidarity among those people.

It’s the same here.

Seriously, it took me a single google search to find all that out. What are you all doing? I thought the point of truthdig was in trying to ‘dig out the truth’ and not parrot the same tired story again and again. And this story’s been done before. Too many times.

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By GradyLeeHoward, October 21, 2011 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

OWS is so-o-o-o leaderless and Anonymous is so-o-o-o
covert that I can never be certain if I’m involved or
not. Wiki-Leaks is so-o-o-o leaky Assange has been
offered a TENA commercial. (Contract mailed to him in
a plain brown cardboard box, so neighbors were none
the wiser.) So I suggest if you resemble Guy Fawkes
you begin wearing the even more mysterious and
prestigious Grady Lee Howard mask of my own design,
now available for $12.99 @ Amazon (free shipping,
arrives within 3 days in the contiguous states).

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By Marian Griffith, October 21, 2011 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Robespierre,

The mask is not representing Guy Fawkes and what he stood for, but the persona of V from the comic (and later the movie adaptation), who was rebelling against a fascist government.
As such the choice of this particular mask is entirely appropriate for the movement that has much the same aims as V had.

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By diman, October 21, 2011 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

Well,said Robespierre115, unfortunately people are still operating under the vision planted into their brains by Hollywood, somehow and I don’t know why, this stupid piece of film prop has become a symbol of rebellion, when the true story behind it has nothing to do either with liberty or freedom.

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, October 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

V For Vendetta the book and film are excellent. However it is ironic that Guy Fawkes’ mug is considered a symbol of rebellion in general when the whole gunpowder plot was meant to assassinate a Protestant King, replace him with a Catholic monarch and bring England back under the wing of the Vatican…just sayin’.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, October 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

And that Anonymous is part of WikiLeaks?

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, October 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Excuse me

You don’t know that WikiLeaks is involved in OWS?

Please

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