Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
I regularly recommend people read Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta not because of the surface temptations offered by its protagonist–the poetic, swashbuckling psychopath who seems to be blessed with impossible skills and prescience, whose frozen mask eventually became a symbol for both genuine activists and faux-radicals alike.
On the contrary, I recommend it largely because of every other principal character in the book, most of whom exist at some echelon of power within the narrative’s fascist Britain.
What I believe Moore’s book does best–and that the 2005 film is unable or unwilling to provide–is give us glimpses into how seemingly reasonable human beings slide obliviously into the stupor of fascism, with moments of internal understanding occurring years after it was far too late. There’s a fleeting passage in which Rosemary Almond, widow of a secret police higher-up, finds herself recalling what her life should have been before war changed the world:
“Derek, when we married, you remember, I was working at the bank and you were in insurance. We were going to buy a house in Surrey, perhaps have children. That was in ’87…just before the war. And then in ’92, you joined the Party. Mrs. Rana next door loaned us food all through the war years. When they dragged her and her children off in separate vans we didn’t intervene.”
All tests of character are pop quizzes. You do not get to study for the form they take so your only strategy is to study the material you are made of.
Fascist regimes are made of people whose character was tested like this time and again, over a course of years, and each time they failed they either didn’t notice or they didn’t care. When such people come to administer their own tests upon you, you either accept their perceptions of what it means to be “good” or “moral” or “patriotic” or you say: “I refuse. I refuse here and I refuse now because if I refuse later I will have refused too late.”