V for Vendetta

by Mike Shea on 26 March 2006

What greater irony is there than a movie about the fall of a totalitarian society built on fear and censorship released by an organization built on fear and censorship? We have a movie where the hero, a terrorist, blows up buildings to cause a revolution against a totalitarian government made by the people who threaten and extort thousands of dollars from single mothers for downloading movies. The very company that wraps popular artwork in restrictive digital rights protection, censors movies out of existence with a cryptic and corrupt rating system, and pushes new consumer-unfriendly bills into law through congress releases a movie with a main character who listens to blacklisted music on a 1970s juke box.

Either Hollywood doesn't read its own scripts or it understands that no call to revolution in any movie will ever be heard. We all become tiny gears in the huge Hollywood machine, buying movie tickets, buying DVDs, and funding an industry that cares nothing for customers, cares nothing for the art of film, cares nothing for due process or fair legislation, and cares nothing for freedom of speech. We pay lawyers to sue us. We pay technology companies to find new ways to get us to pay for the same product again and again. We went from VHS tapes which could be played anywhere in the world to DVDs which only work in the region from which we bought it. We went from an open non-DRMed format like CDs to an encrypted format like DVDs. We sat back getting fat on movies like Independence Day and Twister while the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed into law, making it illegal to copy your own DVDs for your own use.

"People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people."

How they must laugh at us sheep flowing through their theaters, paying our money, watching 20 minutes of ads, hearing this line and feeling it soar through us, and then watch us leave and go back to our lives without a glimmer of action. They give us a hero who blows up buildings and murders cops to push a society into chaos knowing full well we will pay for it at the theater, pay again for the DVD, pay again for the PSP version, and pay again for the iPod Video version.

"Fear became the ultimate tool of this government."

Fear like the fear of being sued into bankrupcy by the same people who thought they could sell Dukes of Hazzard with Jessica Simpson's tits alone. The MPAA threatens children, threatens parents, and uses the media to threaten us with crushing pre-lawsuit ultimatums. They pay armies of lawyers to draft thousands of pseudo-legal documents of blackmail instead of paying to make a better product.

And, like V states in his monologue, we are to blame. We cannot blame the MPAA for their activities. We fund them. We pay for those lawyers. We pay for those evasive technologies. We pay them to find a better way to re-sell us the same product for every display we own. We pay them to threaten smaller movie producers with failure under the moralistic views of a small group of people. We ask them to censor us. We ask them to shield our children for we wish not to shield them ourselves. We are to blame.

We can win this war against film. We can say no. We can buy unrated movies. We can stop going to mainstream theaters. We can seek out independent movies independently produced and released to the internet. We can say no to DRM.

In China, Warner Bros. released 125 movies including Batman Begins near the date of release in the theater for $2.65 US. They learned that piracy in China is so fierce and so difficult to stop that they have to actually work with consumers to give a better product at a better time for a better price.

When Hollywood sees that the laws cannot work, When they continue to see illegal copies of movies going into the hands of those who would simply pay legally if they received the product they want when they want it, when they see us watching movies outside of their sphere of influence because we enjoy them more.

And what of ? They turned a fifteen year old girl that decides prostitution is the only way she can survive into a TV executive. They remove the thick descriptions of chaos and rebuilding and replace it with a Matrix-like fight scene. Some scenes, like Eva's capture, were left intact. Others, like the transfer of Rose Almond from loving wife to informal prostitute and burlesque dancer to assassin, were completely lost.

The movie itself is not nearly as insulting as the realization of who shows it to me - the very industry that V himself would love to blow into rubble.