Tag Archives: Riots

V for Vendetta

I watched this film as a political act at the weekend, not realising that Occupy protesters worldwide were wearing masks from the film.

I have always admired this film, not for its action sequences or because it’s cool, but because it has an important message of solidarity and hope to the people, and reminds governments that they are here to serve us, and that they will not last if they subjugate us and terrify us. The tag line is:
People should not be afraid of their governments
Governments should be afraid of their people

Believing that, I ironically felt fear to post this – hence the delay after Guy Fawkes night – because I do not feel free to express my views without reprisal. But that is not what this country is about or should be about.

Like the Occupy movement, I don’t believe in violence, at all (read my next post on poppies and war). Unlike V, I don’t want to harm even the people who have caused harm and who are the leaders (not that we in this country have any equivalent to Sutler et al anyway). Yet I hear that in America, police are searching homes for V masks; and that in London they forced a protester to demask. And I hate how the internet is at once a voice and also an easier way to have that voice traced and silenced.

My favourite moment of the film is when, having no response from their leaders, the army makes its own choice and decides to stand down. Note that the crowd does not prise the weapons from the military and use them, but peacefully walks past.

I was gutted to see the Houses of Parliament explode when I first watched this film as they are my favourite buildings in the world, and I love all they stand for about my country’s history. A corrupt inhabitant does not mean the building has to go. Since first seeing this, I have visited Scotland’s parliament and been very inspired by the ethos behind this national symbol.

It’s made me think what Westminster’s says: built in a style of a bombastic, violent war hungry king who treated women badly, at a time of colonising other countries, of imperialism, of business men becoming rich, of classism, whilst prisons, asylums and workhouses controlled and institutionalised the poor.

Or I can see that Tudor gothic as a symbol of times when women ruled: Anne Boleyn who I with others see as the woman behind England’s reformation, a step away from corruption and the courage to stand alone; Elizabeth I, who is credited with greater tolerance; and the next woman on the throne, Victoria, another popular and famous monarch, times of great achievement and moving forward, heralding new ages.

As those who believe that 2012 is a special year – other than the Olympics – count down to the dawning of the next new age, what symbol our parliament is for becomes important. I was pleased that V for Vendetta was recently shown on BBC, [Britain’s oldest and official TV provider] although I noted one TV guide downplay it as ‘futuristic action fantasy’. My hope is that leaders will watch the film and think where they are taking their country, and before it reaches a V for Vendetta type dictator state, stop and change direction. When I first saw this film, I feared for the leadership and direction of my nation – and now with a new government, I still do. Recent world wide riots and overthrows make this film feel more relevant than ever.

Revolution begins in the heart: what did Wonder Woman do to change the world? (see my summer entry). And for that matter, Jesus.

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A better way to deal with riots

Just a week before the riots in London began, I watched a TV film I had long wanted to see. Although hard to gain a DVD of it, it can be found on You Tube. It’s the 2002 ITV modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello, written by Andrew Davies and starring Keeley Hawes, Eammon Walker and Christopher Eccleston. It begins with rioting youths in London sparked by a death caused by police.

How Othello dealt with those riots is in stark contrast to how the real life Met are taking on the looting going on this week. Othello faced the crowds alone. His speech won them round and made him the new Police Chief Commissioner. He could see that there was a reason for the rioters to feel angry, and he held true to his pledge to investigate. He discovered that the death which set off the riots was a racial attack by police, and the matter went to court, as he vowed such behaviour had no place in the police force.

I am appalled to read today that the police use of plastic pellets have been authorised with water and gas being considered. To meet violence with violence is strategically and psychologically unsound. It only serves to escalate matters and the only peace comes with subjugation by an act so terrible that wounds continue to bleed for far longer than the fires rage. We ended the last world war that way.

I am not surprised at rioting as the tightening pressures of cuts after recessions, the exposing of various professions, an increasingly unpopular leadership by a government not voted for all mount public tension. I do not advocate violence at all – but that means on both sides. Those (sadly few) newspapers who ask why are there riots are better than those who call names and fuel the fires literally by some frankly shocking invocations. But asking why isn’t getting those questions to the rioters. It needs the police and prime minister to call a ceasefire and find out what is at the bottom of all this, rather than try to contain through weapons and toughness. It concerns me that leaders cannot see this and use such incendiary strategies that cause further harm.

But what they harm the most is their own image and public faith, because these riots seem to come out of an all time low relationship with our authorities, and the response by them serves to make that low greater. Trying to control angry citizens will ultimately lead to a loss of power – for those who hold power by force never retain it.

I’d exhort the police to watch Othello and try that response to quelling the riots by those methods instead.


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