Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November 5, 2019

Remember, remember! 
The fifth of November, 
The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
I know of no reason 
Why the Gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions 
Did the scheme contrive, 
To blow the King and Parliament 
All up alive. 
Threescore barrels, laid below, 
To prove old England's overthrow. 
But, by God's providence, him they catch, 
With a dark lantern, lighting a match! 
A stick and a stake 
For King James's sake! 
If you won't give me one, 
I'll take two, 
The better for me, 
And the worse for you. 
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, 
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him, 
A pint of beer to wash it down, 
And a jolly good fire to burn him. 
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! 
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! 
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Now a celebration of an oddly appropriate reminder on election eve, Guy Fawkes Day/Night.  The celebration of the foiled plot by Guy Fawkes and his compatriots to assassinate the protestant King James I via explosives underneath the Parliament House of Lords.  It was a symptom of the growing Catholic and Protestant divide in England, an attempt to install a Catholic head of state through regicide. The failed attempt lead to the execution of the conspirators and the introduction of more anti-Catholic legislation in England.

An annual celebration through the lighting of bonfires and burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes complete with grotesque mask to celebrate the survival of King James I.  Members of the celebration would often wear Guy Fawkes masks as well.

And it's this part of the celebration that I would like to focus on.  For while the masks may have been initially used to remember the infamy of Guy Fawkes, over recent years the mask has taken on new meaning.  Partially thanks to a comic book.

The now official Guy Fawkes mask
Written by one of the greatest authors in the art form, Alan Moore, V for Vendetta followed V an anarchist revolutionary in a near-future dystopian England who set out to bring down the fascist state and convince people to abandon democracy in favor of anarchy, all while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.  Under author Moore and artist David Lloyd, Guy Fawkes was seen as the anarchist hero of his story not the villain.  According to Lloyd, "We shouldn't burn the chap every Nov. 5th but celebrate his attempt to blow up Parliament!"

From the comic and the 2006 film adaptation, the Guy Fawkes mask has become a well known symbol for anonymous protest.  Hundreds of thousands of the official mask sell a year and it has become the official image of the hacktivist group Anonymous.  The mask has further appeared in Occupy movements, and in protests in England, Poland, India, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, and Venezuela.  It has been banned in Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

This pleases the creators of V.  David Lloyd has said, "This 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.  My feeling is the Anonymous group needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also to symbolise that they stand for individualism - V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system."

So, if you see a Guy Fawkes mask, recognize what it is for.  It's a modern symbol of the fight against tyranny, against government oppression.

As V would say, "People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people."

Or how about Thomas Jefferson, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Let's terrify the government and vote in record numbers.  Let's remind them where the true power lies - with the people.  A government of the people, by the people, for the people.

No comments:

Post a Comment