V for Vendetta Presentation on Body Politics

V for Vendetta Mask. Photo via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Libra-Skull.jpg

News Editor

The dystopian movie and comic books that inspired the creation of the online collective “Anonymous” is the subject of a guest lecture at Saint Rose.

The lecture is called “V for Vendetta and Historiography: Re-membering the Body Politic.” Ineke Murakami, an associate professor who specializes in 16th and 17th century literature and culture at the University at Albany, is presenting the lecture.

“The ‘body politic’ is a master trope in Western thought: the major, pre-modern metaphor for thinking about collective identity,” said Murakami. “’Re-membering’ is a play on words that refers to both the memory work done by historiographers and the political work done by those attempting to reconfigure a conception of the body politic.”

The lecture will begin at 10:30 a.m. and end at 11:45 a.m. in the Hubbard Interfaith Library. The lecture is free and open the the public.

The focus for the lecture is the Guy Fawkes mask, a common representation of a group identity. It was made famous by “V for Vendetta” and represents the “hacktivist” group called Anonymous as well as anti-government and anti-establishment protests around the world.

As a separate symbol from the movie, the mask gained popularity in 2008 when it was used by protesters to hide their faces to not be identified in photographs. As the protests continued, more protesters began opting to use the Guy Fawkes mask, which eventually took on symbolic status within the group. The
Internet-based activist group adopted the character for its wider protests against authority.

The lecture will touch on historical and philosophical sources Murakami suspects play into the potency of the Guy Fawkes mask as a political symbol. The lecture also draws on a book Murakami has been writing about the way 17th century performances solicited theological feelings as community shaping politics.

“The book itself is the product of a confluence of loosely related influences that emerged around 2012: the Occupy Wall Street movement, pro-democracy movements around the world, and parallels between Alan Moore’s graphic novel, “V for Vendetta,” and the immense political turmoil and creativity of the historical period I study,” said Murakami.

Any time people are able to compare the present with history and cultural change is a chance to find direction and meaning, according to Murakami.

“The clarified perspective reveals patterns that encourage us to make informed decisions, avoid past errors, and build on archived ideas rather than reinventing the wheel every time we long for improvement,” she said.

Murakami also believes that placing the film and graphic novel into a larger historical context will help navigate in the current political climate.

“If nothing else, this lecture is a reminder that our current configuration of government, law and law enforcement is no more natural or inevitable than the many variations that have come before,” she said.

The lecture is an outlet that Murakami hopes will help college students to be able to break away from routine and gain a new perspective.

“After graduation, many of us tend to gravitate toward people who read the same books, take in the same films, and appreciate the same art forms,” said Murakami. “Where, if not in now, will you give yourself permission to explore the thing – political philosophy, semiotics, Renaissance studies – you don’t yet know you like?”

Aside from the likelihood that some Anonymous hacktivists could be college students, Murakami thinks that there is more that college students and Anonymous share.

“I suppose one of the very hopeful commonalities the groups seem to share is an earnest desire to make a difference to use their talents and ethical commitments to benefit and protect others,” she said.

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