Thursday, March 16, 2006

Reviewing Movies I Haven't Seen

Not really, but I've been rather puzzled by the concerned reactions to V for Vendetta. The two basic ones seem to be "it glorifies terrorism!" and "it makes references to the Bush administration which means it's really about the evil Bush administration!"

The first one is just silly. The world of the comic book, and presumably the movie, is a genuine fascist totalitarian state. I'm reasonably sure that the violent overthrow of tyrannical governments is something we're usually okay with. I mean, we kept encouraging Iraqis to do just that. I seem to remember something in our own history too. The fact that the fascist state evolved from the country we know as the United Kingdom doesn't change the fact that it is indeed a fascist tyranny.

As for the references to contemporary events in the film, that's a way to provide a frame that the audience can understand. Whether the filmmakers intend it to be part cautionary tale or not, if you do a movie about the "near future" it certainly makes sense to ground it its past, or our present. The original book is similarly grounded in the author's view of then-contemporary England.

Anyway, I haven't actually seen the movie, but if a movie about a fascist tyranny has people freaking out because they view it as a critique of the Bush administration I think that says more about their own view of the administration than the filmmakers'.

Oh, and David Denby's smack on Moore for being concerned at the time about quarantining AIDS patients is ridiculous. Discussion of quarantining AIDS patients was pretty standard fare in the mid-1980s, and though it never went anywhere as a matter of policy in the US, LaRouche did get quarantine proposals onto the California ballot twice. Yes it was LaRouche, and yes they were defeated, but he still managed to get the signatures to get them on the ballot.

And, from the December 20, 1985 New York Times:

A majority of Americans favor the quarantine of AIDS patients, and some would embrace measures as drastic as using tattoos to mark those with the deadly disorder, according to a poll published today.

The Los Angeles Times Poll found that 51 percent of the respondents supported a quarantine of acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients, 48 percent would approve of identity cards for those who have taken tests indicating the presence of AIDS antibodies and 15 percent supported tattooing those with AIDS.

In the mid-80s there was plenty of reason to be concerned that such measures could be taken. From a Nov. 4, 1985 CSM article:

Also on Wednesday, Representative Dannemeyer introduced five bills in Congress. They would: make it a felony for an individual from a high-risk group to donate blood; prohibit anyone with AIDS from working as a health-care professional in institutions receiving federal funds; deny federal funds to cities that do not close bathhouses frequented by homosexuals; keep children with AIDS from attending public schools; and allow health-care workers to wear special protective clothing around AIDS patients without interference from hospital officials.


For Rep. Don Gilmore, a Republican state representative in Ohio, public pressure prompted him to introduce an AIDS-quarantine bill.

''I'm shocked, I'm getting support from all over the US,'' he says of his proposal that all the AIDS victims in Ohio be quarantined in their homes. He says the bill has strong support among his colleagues in the legislature. He does not expect it to pass, however, because, he predicts, state health authorities will adopt other AIDS-related measures to syphon support from the bill.