Ed Driscoll

"V For Vendetta Isn't Riefenstahl; It Isn't Even Michael Moore"

In The New Criterion’s Armavirumque blog, Stefan Beck writes that V For Vendetta commits the worst sin of all for any agitprop: it’s boring:

As a piece of propaganda, V for Vendetta isn’t Riefenstahl; it isn’t even Michael Moore. It’s just too boring. For a movie made from a comic book, that’s unforgivable.

The important thing, however, is why it’s boring, and why it’s part of a worsening trend–if not necessarily in politics, at least in movies. (And isn’t that bad enough?) Namely, it doesn’t ring true. As Douglas Murray noted, “The present war’s movies range from Kingdom of Heaven (‘there are a lot of fundamentalists about, Christians are the worst’) to Munich (‘if someone hits you and you’re a Jew, stay perfectly still’) and Flightplan (‘if you’re on a hijacked plane, odds are these days that the flight-crew, not Islamists, are to blame’).”

Now we can add to that V for Vendetta, which transforms Blair’s Britain or W’s America into, as Rolling Stone put it, “a police state ruled by . . . a fear-mongering, gay-bashing, Islam-hating dictator who strips citizens of their civil rights and religious freedoms.” Why look to a hypothetical Britain, when present-day Iran has all that and more?

What–and risk angering CAIR? As Edward Jay Epstein wrote in December:

Why don’t the movies have plausible, real-world villains anymore? One reason is that a plethora of stereotype-sensitive advocacy groups, representing everyone from hyphenated ethnic minorities and the physically handicapped to Army and CIA veterans, now maintain liaisons in Hollywood to protect their images. The studios themselves often have “outreach programs” in which executives review scripts and characters with representatives from these groups, evaluate their complaints, and attempt to avoid potential brouhahas.

Finding evil villains is not as easy as it was in the days when a director could choose among Nazis, Communists, KGB, and Mafiosi. Still, in a pinch, these old enemies will serve. For example, the 2002 apocalyptic thriller Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel, originally had Muslim extremists exploding a nuclear bomb in Baltimore. Paramount decided, however, to change the villains to Nazis residing in South Africa to avoid offending Arab-American and Islamic groups. Yet, even if aging Nazis lack any credible “outreach program” in Hollywood, they can no longer be credibly fit into many contemporary movies. “The list [of non-offensive villains] narrows quickly once you get past the tired clich