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November 5, 2007

Penny for the Guy
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:54 AM * 251 comments

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Ever should be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys,
Let the bells ring!
Holloa boys, holloa boys,
God save the King!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope,
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him,
A pint o’ beer to rinse it down,
A faggot o’ sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say the Pope is dead.

Comments on Penny for the Guy:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 03:11 AM:

Speaking of which, and other gunpowder plots:

Woe worth, woe worth ye, false Scotland
That ever thou has wrought a slight
For the fairest prince that e'er there wast
Thou slaughest under a cloud at night.

-- Earl Bothwell

#2 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 03:16 AM:

Ahh, the heady days of religious bigotry; the days when simple, God-fearing Protestants still worried that every single Catholic in the world was under the direct control of the Pope, and every single crime ever committed by a Catholic was immediate cause to condemn the entire religion as a threat to free-thinking people everywhere.

How far we've come.

#3 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 03:20 AM:

Ahh, the heady days of religious bigotry; the days when simple, God-fearing Americans worried that every single Muslim in the world was under the direct control of Osama bin Laden, and every single crime ever committed by a Muslim was immediate cause to condemn the entire religion as a threat to free-thinking people everywhere.

How far we've come, indeed.

#4 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 03:46 AM:

heh, Indeed.

#5 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:26 AM:

That's from V for Vendetta, right?

(I'm kidding!)

#6 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:27 AM:

The irony is so thick in here that if you spun the whole thread you could generate enough current to run the blog by itself; and then where would we all be, eh?

#7 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:54 AM:

That's all very well, but how do you explain about "gunpowder treason and plot" to your three-year-old cousin who's made friends with the Guy and won't let you throw it on the bonfire?

#8 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:07 AM:

"That's from V for Vendetta, right?"

That was the thing that always bugged me about the movie, the implicit Guy Fawkes was right interpretation which I suppose nobody meant to be there.

#9 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:12 AM:

The Australian joke has it that Guy Fawkes was the last man to enter Parliament with honest intent.

#10 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:14 AM:

Penny for Giuliani:


Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
I was there, I was there, I was there
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
don't you forget about me, don't you
forget about me
hey hey hey
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
I am calling my wife because
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,
don't you, forget about me
donnnn't you, forget about me
hey hey hey hey
Remember, remember the 11th September,
Remember, remember the 11th September,

...every verse, same as the first...

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:58 AM:

In the 1920s a rumour swept through a small town in Indiana that the Pope was going to come down on the train from Chicago (what the Pope was doing in Chicago was unexplained). The local Klan (the Indiana Klan was the biggest in the US) organised a necktie party to go down to the railway station when the Chicago train came in. No Pope, of course, but a travelling salesman from Chicago had a very nerve-wracking few minutes.

#12 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:15 AM:

That was the thing that always bugged me about the movie, the implicit Guy Fawkes was right interpretation which I suppose nobody meant to be there.

I haven't read the book - I keep meaning to - but I suspect Alan Moore very much meant that interpretation to be there. In the 80s he wouldn't have been the only person to advocate (seriously or not) blowing up the Queen and the Lords and the Thatcher government.

When I saw the movie (in the US, as it happened) I was very impressed that even though V. wasn't the most sympathetic character, his arguments were given plenty of space. I'd expected that aspect to be rather more soft-peddled.

#13 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:24 AM:

Also, it's obligatory to mention in threads like this that in Lewes (East Sussex) every year they still burn an effigy of the Pope on November 5th. An old (2004) article from the BBC here.

Having been brought up Catholic, I am still a bit bothered by this. Although apparently now it has moved on to general right-wing provocation (which the BBC calls "not politically correct") - ie. burning gypsies and Labour ministers. So that's all right then.

#14 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:27 AM:

bryan @ #8: Why do you suppose that no-one intended to imply that Guy Fawkes was right? He tried to kill the King, destroy the Government and Parliament and seriously injure the aristocracy. All the good bits of Cromwell without the anti-catholic baggage.

#15 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:36 AM:

candle said (#12):
I haven't read the book - I keep meaning to - but I suspect Alan Moore very much meant that interpretation to be there. In the 80s he wouldn't have been the only person to advocate (seriously or not) blowing up the Queen and the Lords and the Thatcher government.

Thinking back on the book (I haven't seen the movie)... yes, Moore did intend that interpretation, at least within the context of the story[*]. But I think he also intended a certain amount of ambiguity -- V is not really a hero in any conventional sense, and we're (perhaps) meant to be a bit disturbed to the degree that we support his actions.

[*] Not being British, I probably didn't pay enough attention to the specific historical resonances. So if the question is specifically "Was Moore arguing that Guy Fawkes, the historical person, was right?" -- I don't know.

#16 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:49 AM:

But I think he also intended a certain amount of ambiguity...

Yes, I think you're right. I said it badly, but I meant that Moore intended V to argue that Guy Fawkes was right, while making him someone whose opinion the reader doesn't necessarily trust. Making people think through the question, in other words. And I thought the film kept that aspect very well. [Reminder: I haven't read the book. I've just read a lot *about* it. I should probably leave it to other people to talk about this.]

And yeah, I don't mean Fawkes' historical motivations so much as the right to violent resistance in certain circumstances. Which I suppose romanticises or exaggerates the Gunpowder Plot somewhat, but I suppose that's been happening since the day itself.

#17 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 07:58 AM:

Not so much by God's providence, as by the letter the conspiritors sent to friendly MPs suggesting they might like to be somewhere else on that day. No wait...

#18 ::: Farah Mendlesohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 08:01 AM:

You might want to check out Remember, Remember the Fifth of November by James Sharpe.

Jim did a very good job of convincing me that this particular ryhme should be allowed to die. The site you linked to neglected to mention that November 5 was an excuse for Catholic-bashing (physically) well into the 1950s.

Most people in this country use as a guy of whichever public figure is most loathed at any given time. Mrs. T was very popular or a while.

#19 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:00 AM:

14: Not really. Cromwell certainly didn't want to destroy Parliament! And Fawkes wasn't a republican - he wanted a Catholic monarch, Princess Elizabeth, on the throne as a puppet. What he would have got would have been, probably, an oppressive Protestant ascendancy, with far more anti-Catholic policies.

#20 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:26 AM:

hmm, maybe the impression that he was right was intended.

I suppose that the thing I minded was that nothing was put forward to argue why he was right, the impression was something of a poor freedom fighter back in those dark times when they did all sorts of nasty stuff, and maybe you were supposed to think "gee, I wonder why he was doing what he did, oh I don't know he probably was Scottish and just wanted to yell Freeeeeeeddddom! very loud or some such wonderful thing. Gosh I bet I would have agreed with also of his aims, fighter against tyranny that he was, also that blond really really loved him, he was marvelous. "

#21 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:31 AM:

(By Kevin Wald, to "Try to Remember")

Try to remember the Fifth of November,
    A day of powder, plot, and treason.
Try to remember the Fifth of November,
    When Guy once tried to do MPs in.

More...

(This is the same guy who crossed Xena with Pirates of Penzance.)

#22 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:35 AM:

I liked V for Vendetta, right up to the point where they show the beneficial side of torture as applied to Natalie Portman's character, at which point, it was complete bullocks.

Because there is no beneficial side to torture.

#23 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Did you miss the fact that V was batshit crazy, Greg? And I think reducing that part of the story to showing "the beneficial side of torture" is really doing a disservice. It was incredibly powerful in the graphic novel.

Although given you refer to Evie as "Portman's character" I'm guessing you only saw the movie.

But V was also batshit crazy in the film; it just wasn't played up so much. Keep in mind that one point of that whole sequence, from V's point of view, was to see if he had to kill Evie or if he could let her go secure that she would die before giving up his location. If she had broken under his torture he would have executed her rather than letting her go and risking his lair being compromised.

After that point in the story, Evie is a little bit nuts as well. Although that's simplifying things at least as much as Greg did, I suppose.

It's complicated; read the graphic novel.

#25 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Greg at 22, I intensely disliked V for Vendetta the movie for the same reason. I also did not like the implication that experiencing great suffering (as V did) would drive one so crazy that it could lead one into the sort of darkness of soul which would allow one to adopt torture as a tactic. (We weren't told that V had tortured cats as children or exhibited any other form of psychopathic behavior, that I recall.) AFAIK, it just ain't so.

I didn't know that it was also a graphic novel. Anyone else want to express an opinion here, besides David Bilek (thank you, David, for the suggestion) as to whether I should read it?

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Lizzy L... I didn't care for the movie either and said so in "joining the omelette".

#27 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:47 AM:

V for Vendetta the book had more bite, because it came from the era of Margaret Thatcher, and was a reaction and a challenge to that. How far dare you go to combat tyranny? Is violence, torture and killing necessary for some future greater good?

The movie played more like a Batman fantasy, with British fascists taking the place of supervillains, or the Nazis in an Indiana Jones flick.

They tried to give it a bit more substance than that, but the Warchowski (sp?) brothers use these germs of ideas and set up explosions. It really never investigated anarchy, or dissent, but that would have been a different movie.

#28 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:50 AM:

I heartily recommend the graphic novel of V for Vendetta. Highly thought-provoking.

Not only for those of us who lived under Thatcher in the early 80's, when the riots did periodically make it look as if folk with nothing more to lose had hit upon the notion of destroying the rotten system so something new and better could be built on the ruins.

For those interested in a wider examination of the Elizabethan repression of Catholicism, complete with torture and its consequences, as well as the Gunpowder plot, I can recommend God's Secret Agents by Alice Hogge.

And as far as that book relates to the current Islamophobic war on terror? Like whoever-it-was said, those who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it (or something similar, you know what I mean).

#29 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Lizzy L @ #25: you don't have to be driven batshit crazy to adopt torture as a tactic; check out that nice Mr. Mukasey.

#30 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:09 AM:

V for Vendetta isn't a book for everyone*, but is more interesting than the film. One thing the film doesn't get across very well is that we can't be sure if there is anyone human left under the mask. V has certainly gone mad (as a side effect of the medical experiments more than the torture) but how mad is he? He believes that he was set free when everything** was stripped away from him in the camp; this is the only way he knows to set people free.

And of course, V isn't a hero; he's a monster created by the State (both literally and metaphorically).

* If you want Alan Moore for everyone I'd recommend The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (although you should note that there is no film. There is no film. There is no film.)
** Except the last inch

#31 ::: Kate Y. ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Does anyone else here hear the words "explosion" and "Guy" and think of Guy Wicker of General Technics?

#32 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Randolph: Thanks for the bellatrys link; it's a very nice piece indeed. I just wanted to add that I was uncomfortable too with V-as-torturer in V for Vendetta (the movie), but I took it as the moment when we were supposed to realise that he *wasn't* in fact a sympathetic Batman-style freedom fighter but a dangerous obsessive. Mind you, I can see Lizzy L's point that the psychology is a bit unconvincing.

I was actually disappointed in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, too. I didn't like the way it fell back on comic-book cliches; but then I like my adventure stories understated. Example: I'm somene who thought there was far too much kung-fu in Buffy.

So probably you shouldn't listen to me.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:44 AM:

I loved V for Vendetta (the movie). I had serious problems with some of it, but not with the terrible things V did to Evie. He wasn't supposed to be entirely sympathetic. Or entirely UNsympathetic, which is why the movie is IMO such a gem. Ambiguity is rare these days.

I think the circumstances in which that story is set do justify violent resistance. They justify NONviolent resistance even more, of course, and the vast majority of people in the movie did that nonviolent resistance, and it worked. The thing that's really troubling about the movie is that they needed this violent lunatic to get them to organize the nonviolent resistance.

I love being troubled in that way. Makes me think. I'm generally a nonviolent person, and I continually struggle with the issue of what I think would justify my taking up arms.

After seeing the movie, I really wanted to get hundreds of people in Guy masks to march on the White House. But the movie wasn't popular enough to make the masks easily available, and also we'd probably just be shot by Bushista police.

#34 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Lizzy L 25: I don't think that either the movie or the book meant to suggest that anyone would embrace torture after being traumatized, but only that it was V's individual response. Moore doesn't imply that either Valerie or Evey would choose V's path, I would argue. (And as far as real life goes, we do have Stockholm Syndrome...)

More salient for me is that V for Vendetta is a revenge tragedy in the classic sense, which means that V necessarily must descend to the level of his tormentors in order to overthrow them. He's like Hamlet: you don't have to like him, just understand him.

I do think the movie didn't stress enough how crucial the torture interlude was to V--it wasn't only a practical measure (to see if she could be trusted), but more importantly it was a form of communication. V didn't simply torture Evey, he replicated his own experience of torture. He put her in his place, as close as anyone can get of truly understanding the experience of another.

Even in the novel, it's awful and insane; but it's also powerful, and beautiful-terrible in the way only art can be.

#35 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Niall at 29: perhaps I was not clear. I recognize your point -- my point is that in the real world, people who undergo great physical and mental suffering over a long period of time, especially if that suffering is generated by the machinery of state (think Buchenwald, think the Soviet gulag) generally don't come out of that experience with the strong desire to torture other people, except possibly their torturers, even if they have been driven batshit crazy. I suppose it could happen...

Sorry if I am simply repeating myself unnecessarily.

#36 ::: JerolJ ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Rose at #34 - I totally agree with this viewpoint. As an American, this movie really pushed a lot of my buttons and still does. So while Moore intended it to be aimed at Thatcher, I'm thinking the Wachowski brothers were aiming at Bush and Cheney. Hell, walking out of that movie I wanted to buy a mask and a can of spray paint, then hit the streets to get into trouble.

Hugo Weaving should have gotten some nominations for his faceless performance - the way he cracked out that dialog was incredible.

#37 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:27 PM:

I was going to say that I liked both V for Vendettas in their own way, and why, but Xopher already did. So NEVER MIND.

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:36 PM:

ethan...if we keep agreeing all the time someone's going to think we're each other's sockpuppets.

That risk aside though, I'm enjoying it like crazy.

#39 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:43 PM:

I agree! Xopher is so right! Like always!

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 12:46 PM:

I bought an HDTV yesterday; an extraordinary extravagance for someone who is not an early adopter and hates the notion of expensive toys bought on a whim.

The first movie I'll be watching on it is V for Vendetta.

"Batman with British fascists as villains" is a nice capsule description, but there are some wonderful bits outside of that.

Like: Gur Punapryybe enagvat bire gur GI gb na nhqvrapr bs . . . ab bar. Gur cho, gur fhoheona yvivat ebbzf, naq gur byq ntr ubzr jurer jr'q cerivbhfyl frra sbyxf jngpuvat gur gryyl ner rzcgl.

#41 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Rose at 34: I saw the movie with my mother, and during our discussion afterwards she brought up Stockholm Syndrome. I remember being annoyed because that doesn't seem to apply in the movie's scenario. Evie doesn't know V was the person doing all that to her, so when she finds out, there's no shared bond or transference or whatever. It just didn't make sense that she'd react that way. But that was the only problem I had with the movie, which I thought was quite good. I probably ought to watch it again, and read the book too.

Regarding the rhyme, I'm only an ignorant American, but I'd guess most people don't really remember more than the first four lines without having to go look it up online. Well--that's how I am. But I have a terrible memory, too.

#42 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 02:12 PM:

I only ever knew the first four lines-- the rest don't match at all. The rhyme and rhythm are all over the place.
Is it a song? That would make some sense.

#43 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 02:46 PM:

K.C. Shaw @ 41: Sorry, I wasn't being clear--I was referring to V, not to Evey, and I don't actually think that anyone in the story can be said to have Stockholm Syn.

I actually wanted to use it analogously: we know that a person who has been kidnapped can come to support and identify with their kidnappers, so it might be possible that a person who has been tortured (V) might develop an ambivalence toward or even an affinity for torture.

#44 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 02:58 PM:

I don't know Scott Horton's background, but he keeps writing posts which reflect my thoughts over at Harper's. He calls this piece "Happy Counterterrorism Day."

What was the result of the use of torture? It wasn’t necessary to secure his conviction in the first place. Fawkes was caught in the act, with innumerable witnesses. No useful information was gained by it. The king, for having authorized its use, was viewed by many of his own subjects as a cruel tyrant. The conspirators, for the cruelty of their treatment, were accepted by many of their co-religionists as martyrs.

Amen, brother.

#45 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Speaking of celebrations of Guy Fawkes Day, according to this New York Times article, many English towns/cities aren't even participating in the traditional festivities. They've even canceled fireworks on Bonfire Day! Apparently, it's way too expensive to fund what the English government requires for health/safety measures. Rather ironic that the bureaucracy has led to sparing Guy rather than destroying him.

#46 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Ronald Hutton explains it all.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before some killjoy gets the Maryland state song replaced with something from the "Your state's name here" genre, too.

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:26 PM:

A penny loaf to feed the Pope

Why would the author of the poem want to feed the Pope if they're just going to choke him with cheese in the very next line?

#48 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Xopher @ 33:

Oddly, the masks seem to be more prevalent this year. The teenage son of good friends went as V for Hallowe'en this year (parental 18th century re-enactment gear helps!) They found the mask at the seasonal store down the street. (Y'know, the spare space that's Hallowe'en for a month, and Christmas after that, and then turns into lawn gear eventually.)

#49 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 05:02 PM:

I agree entirely with Greg @22. The problem is not that V commits torture; it seemed to me that a lot of the point was that he is anything but an admirable character, even though his rebellion against the evil regime is an admirable act. The problem is that the torture turns out to be so character-building for Evey; it transforms her from being a wet, pathetic, rather passive girl, to a strong, heroic woman (who then falls in love with her torturer, which makes it even worse). Yes, V is meant to be a monster, but the setup still makes the effects of torture far too positive.

#50 ::: Roadkill ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 05:12 PM:

On the topic of V torturing Evie... I think the book makes it clearer that V had been considering her as a successor, and put her through the same process that shaped him (justified or not) to see if she'd be reborn like he was -- or just break under the strain.

What didn't make it into the movie, if I'm recalling correctly after all this time, is that Evie had reached a crisis point on her own and was about to throw her life away in attacking a government-backed gangster surrounded by bodyguards when V literally knocked her down and dragged her back to his headquarters, unconscious.

#51 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Lizzy L @35: If all V had undergone was torture, I find it likely I would agree with you. What was less emphasized in the movie was that there was also a series of medical experiments being conducted by the state to create, in effect, state-controlled monsters; V could be considered a partial success in that he is indeed a monster. Assuming I recall correctly -- not an altogether safe assumption as I have not read the book in a while, and it is elsewhere.

Also, hello! I have been reading for a while but too intimidated by the smrt around these parts to comment.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Jenett 48: Well, rats! Too late now. Where do you live, anyway? I wonder if I could have gotten some V masks. Drat.

#53 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 06:44 PM:

"who then falls in love with her torturer, which makes it even worse"

really? Well maybe, but I don't think you could classify it as romantic love.

#54 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 08:27 PM:

David@23: Did you miss the fact that V was batshit crazy, Greg?

V's reasons or intentions for torturing Evey aren't the problem.

The problem is that he subjected her to weeks or maybe months of torture, and she emerged from that experience a powerful, couragous woman.

That's just absurd. People who've been severely tortured spend the rest of their lives waking up in the middle of the night screaming in terror.

She emerged from months of torture not only without any negative effects of being tortured, but also with an amazingly positive effect. And to top it off, it was exactly the effect V wanted to produce when he started torturing her. He was able to predict and produce on that prediction that torturing her would be good for her. And that just makes it more absurd.

I've seen the movie a couple of times now. The author seems to have an infatuation with violence, a misrepresentation in his mind of what violence is, does, and means.

From the point in time where V escapes the lab, nothing happens in that world that V did not plan or intend. There are no negative consequences of his actions. Nothing happens out of his control. He is able to use force, violence, lethal force, kidnapping, torture, and so on, without anyone getting hurt that he did not intend to get hurt.

And I can be fine with comic book stories. But that doesn't mean I give them a free pass for any unrealistic thing they portray. Give me a comic book that portrays african americans as inferior and I'll give it a thumbs down. Give me a comic book that portrays torture as effective, useful, saving the world from the "ticking bomb", or worse yet, turning someone into a fearless human being, and I can't abide it.

The truth is that torture breaks you. It doesn't build you up.

#55 ::: hypochrismutreefuzz ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Hmmm. Falls in love with torturer. What was that novel, Ring of Swords, now I am blanking on the name of the author. But anyway, the novel concerns a human-alien war, the aliens capture and torture a human, who then falls in love with the alien commander. And the aliens are all gay cat people.

#56 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:04 PM:

#55
Eleanor Arnason, I seem to recall.

#57 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:11 PM:

And the aliens are all gay cat people.

wh... wh... what?

#58 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 09:34 PM:

And happy birthday, Erik V. Olson. Celebrate loudly, but safely (i.e., don't drop the chainsaw on the homemade thermite [this time])

#59 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Of course, Guy Fawkes has a blog.

#60 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2007, 11:42 PM:

Guy Fawkes, patron saint of mass murder in the name of revenge posing as justice.

So began the unraveling of a plot whose audacity of conception was matched only by its incompetence in performance. The thirty-six barrels held almost a ton of gunpowder, enough to demolish not only the Palace of Westminster but also Westminster Abbey, the neighboring church of St. Margaret, which the Commons used as their chapel, and most of the streets for fifty yards around. Had it gone off as intended, it would have vaporized King James I and VI, Anne of Denmark, his queen, and their sons, Henry and Charles, along with most of the English nobility, the entire Protestant episcopate, the leading judges, and every member of the House of Commons. In comprehensiveness of intent, at any rate, the plot thus dwarfed every modern act of terrorism, September 11 included. At one blow the political elite of an entire nation would have disappeared, leaving a power vacuum which the plotters planned to fill by a Catholic coup.
--"The Plot that Failed", Eamon Duffy, New York Review of Books, 9 Feb 2006

May he burn and burn.

#61 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 02:04 AM:
Melbourne spreads around over an immense area of ground. It is a stately city architecturally as well as in magnitude. It has an elaborate system of cable-car service; it has museums, and colleges, and schools, and public gardens, and electricity, and gas, and libraries, and ,theaters, and mining centers, and wool centers, and centers of the arts and sciences, and boards of trade, and ships, and railroads, and a harbor, and social clubs, and journalistic clubs, and racing clubs, and a squatter club sumptuously housed and appointed, and as many churches and banks as can make a living. In a word, it is equipped with everything that goes to make the modern great city. It is the largest city of Australasia, and fills the post with honor and credit. It has one specialty; this must not be jumbled in with those other things. It is the mitred Metropolitan of the Horse-Racing Cult. Its race-ground is the Mecca of Australasia. On the great annual day of sacrifice--the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes's Day--business is suspended over a stretch of land and sea as wide as from New York to San Francisco, and deeper than from the northern lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; and every man and woman, of high degree or low, who can afford the expense, put away their other duties and come. They begin to swarm in by ship and rail a fortnight before the day, and they swarm thicker and thicker day after day, until all the vehicles of transportation are taxed to their uttermost to meet the demands of the occasion, and all hotels and lodgings are bulging outward because of the pressure from within. They come a hundred thousand strong, as all the best authorities say, and they pack the spacious grounds and grandstands and make a spectacle such as is never to be seen in Australasia elsewhere.

It is the "Melbourne Cup" that brings this multitude together. Their clothes have been ordered long ago, at unlimited cost, and without bounds as to beauty and magnificence, and have been kept in concealment until now, for unto this day are they consecrate. I am speaking of the ladies' clothes; but one might know that.


Mark Twain, Following The Equator

And the winner is: Efficient

#62 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 03:49 AM:

"She emerged from months of torture not only without any negative effects of being tortured, but also with an amazingly positive effect. And to top it off, it was exactly the effect V wanted to produce when he started torturing her."

really? He predicted and wanted her to leave him. that guy's even sicker than I thought.

"Nothing happens out of his control. He is able to use force, violence, lethal force, kidnapping, torture, and so on, without anyone getting hurt that he did not intend to get hurt. "

actually in the comic it is specified that the medical experiments also managed to increase his intelligence and various physical skills. In effect, he was a subversion of the superhuman mythos.

I believe the physical part was still clear in the film, but the intellectual parts were downplayed.

"The truth is that torture breaks you. It doesn't build you up. "

The torture didn't build her up. The "secret communications" from the "person next door" built her up.

#63 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:35 AM:

Greg @54,
I could say "read the graphic novel", but it's now too late.

The movie doesn't make justice to the novel at all. VfV is a fantastic examination of fascism, anarchy and individualism... Yes, V also practices Violence (and Vengeance), but that's so because the world around him is entirely built upon brutal violence and relentless prevarication. There is no safety, as Evey finds out when his new father-husband is killed by just another crook on his way to fascist glory, without any sort of justification (in the movie, Stephen Fry's character is a threat to the establishment, which is much more logic but because of that it also partially loses meaning).

In VfV, there is no Justice, there is no Moral Way, because the fabric of society is so deeply broken ("there's no such thing as society") that it has to be completely taken away and rebuilt from scratch.

In VfV, there isn't a single character who is entirely right or entirely wrong, which is exactly how real life works, and it's even more remarkable coming from the (then manichean) world of anglo-saxon comics.

A faithful adaptation would require a (completely un-marketable) Heimat-like production. The Wachowskis managed to squeeze it in a two-hour anti-Bush propaganda piece (introducing a fairly clever double-twist on what media-induced fear of terrorism really achieves), but it's not a suprise that Moore disowned the work: all the good bits about anarchy and ambiguity went out of the window, to make room for matrix-like kung-fu and a completely unrealistic "popular" upheaval (in the novel, the population goes wild with looting and lawlessness).

Sorry, I get emotional talking about VfV... It is such a fantastic piece of work, it's a shame anybody's perception should be shaped by an average yankee flick.

And by the way, nobody yet mentioned the real possibility that Guy Fawkes was set up by the English secret service of the time, to strengthen the Queen's favour. I personally find the ambiguity of 5-nov so wonderful, it's a shame the establishment really wants to kill it off... even though the resulting noise last night made me feel like I was in the 90s Sarajevo rather than opulent modern Manchester.

#64 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 05:13 AM:

At one blow the political elite of an entire nation would have disappeared...

You see, even while being against mass murder and terrorism and torture, I still have a sneaking admiration for this aspect of the plot. I suspect a number of Britons do, perhaps especially if they have Catholic connections. I can't help but feel there is something attractive about trying to remove the entire political elite, even if the methods were abhorrent.

Of course I'm sure I would be horrified if anyone tried to put the plan into operation again (for one thing I have good friends who work in the parliament buildings or nearby); and I wouldn't have any sympathy for a Catholic coup then or now. But it is worth remembering (as I'm sure Eamon Duffy does) that Catholics stayed second-class citizens for centuries instead; or else were massacred under Cromwell in Ireland. At Drogheda, for example:

Catholic priests and friars were treated as combatants and killed on sight. Many civilians died in the carnage. A group of defenders who had barricaded themselves in St Peter's church in the north of the town were burned alive when the Parliamentarians set fire to the church. Around 3,500 people died in the storming of Drogheda; many of those who survived were transported to Barbados. Parliamentarian losses were around 150.

Cromwell isn't directly linked to Guy Fawkes, of course, so this isn't exactly comparing like with like. But "may he burn and burn" seems to pick out Guy Fawkes unduly, or else reveals a horror at the apparent anticipation of 9/11 while ignoring what would now be called state terror and war crimes on the other side.

We burn Guy Fawkes, I suspect, not because of the sheer number of people he tried to kill, or because his motives were political; but because his intended victims were the privileged political elite; and because he ended up on the losing side. Or, admittedly, because it is an entertaining and colourful custom, which aspect I'm entirely ignoring...

John O'Farrell on the radio yesterday mentioned that there are two signatures known by Guy Fawkes: before torture, and after torture. You can see them here. Although they are not quite conclusive, I think Greg does have a point: the apparent 'after-torture' signature is not notable for its renewed strength of character.

#65 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 05:52 AM:

Giacamo @#63 - I was in Wellington (NZ) for Guy Fawkes in 2005 and on my way home found I was walking between a beach where fireworks were shooting in all directions and a park where fireworks were shooting in all directions. That's as close to being in a crossfire as I ever want to be. My Dad (who lost an eye to a firework) taught me the golden rule of fireworks is "Don't be an idiot around fireworks". Most (although not all) of the fireworks from the beach were aimed generally out to sea; unfortunately this took a lot of them over a yacht mooring. Did I mention something about fireworks and idiots?

#66 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 07:28 AM:

Correction to Mark Twain. Melbourne Cup day isn't necessarily 5th November. This year f'rinstance it was the 6th. It's the first Tuesday in November (a phrase that USians will find familiar). Much of his other comments probably still apply, tho' Melbourne (then still benefitting from being the closest capital to the Gold Fields) is no longer the largest city.

Our big cracker night with bonfires & such used to be Empire Day/Queen's Birthday/June Long Weekend — sensibly in wintertime. It's been legislated pretty much out of existence, unfortunately. November is too close to bushfire season, and not dark enough for fireworks until far too late.

#67 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 07:38 AM:

re 63: Hutton essentially advances the thesis that the plot was real (though hopelessly incompetent and delusional), and that its exposure was carefully managed by Cecil and the king to their various political advantages. As to the possibility of success, the thing is that the English governmental structures didn't run so shallow that even so severe a decapitation would kill the parliamentary body. There surely would have been a civil war, and the Catholic families would surely have been massacred, but Protestants would have almost certainly have remained in power when the blood stopped flowing.

#68 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Thinking of "V for Vendetta" (film and comic), I was looking for works that are political that investigate issues in anarchy and terrorism in interesting ways. Anyone know of any good ones?

Didn't make it through "The Good Terrorist" by Doris Lessing, because its characters irritated me too much (reminding me of types I knew in college, always a good way to stop me reading a book), but I think the play "Accidental Death of An Anarchist" by Dario Fo is thought-provoking, and doesn't give easy answers.

There's also the film "Battle of Algiers" by Gillo Pontecorvo, which is about a successful revolution.

The "V for Vendetta" film brought up some topics, but made it all way too easy. If we all band together, we can defeat tyranny, it said to me. But there were no immigrants in the film, no different stripes of belief to reconcile, which tear things apart in real life.

Heard there was a doc about the Seattle protests against the WTO in 1991, which was interesting, but haven't tracked that down yet. Dissent is a complex issue, but I don't mind that.

On another thread, about Alan Moore. It's ironic that so many of his comic book collaborations have been made into films ("V," "From Hell," "League of [...] Gentlemen," and "Watchmen" upcoming), but he wants nothing to do with them. Won't even take money, apparently. Maybe that makes him more attractive to producers.

#69 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 09:30 AM:

68: the classics of the genre are "The Quiet American" by Graham Greene and "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad. Or you could try "The Man who was Thursday" for something a little odder.
If conspiracy is more your thing, you should try "Treason in the Blood", a biography of St. John and Kim Philby.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Speaking of conspiracy stories... Has anyone ever seen Anthony Mann's "The Tall Target"? The titular target is Abe Lincoln. Neat movie.

#71 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 10:04 AM:

bryan@62: He predicted and wanted her to leave him.

And he was going to do that by lifting her up, taking her fear away, and turning her into a powerful woman. And he did that through torture.

actually in the comic it is specified that the medical experiments also managed to increase his intelligence and various physical skills. In effect, he was a subversion of the superhuman mythos.

He's a comic book character. I understand that. My problem was that the author applied comic book rules to torture. The outcome of the torture was exactly as V had planned it. Evey got control of her fear.

The torture didn't build her up. The "secret communications" from the "person next door" built her up.

You torture someone and sneak them a letter that says "Chin up", you still get the results of torture: a broken human being. Nightmares. Panic attacks.

The author treats torture as a comic book tool. He treats it like a "radioactive spider bite", or "exposure to cosmic radiation". He treats it as some comic book method to turn Evey from a scared girl to a powerful woman.

The problem is that he does it using torture. If he had done it using cosmic radiation, or if he'd done it by having V give Evey a shot of his blood as some kind of fear innoculation, then I would have been fine with that.

But certain topics do not get a pass with me for the comic book treatment. Torture is one of them. No one seriously thinks that if you expose yourself to cosmic radiation that you'll turn into Mr. Fantastic. But people seriously think that torture is a good thing, a useful thing. There are people who have that infatuation with violence. And the author of VfV panders to that infatuation with violence by showing torture as theraputic.

I understand the story. I understand how the author explains it. It's just that torture is not a topic that I can tolerate as a comic book tool.

There's comic book tools like radiation that people are willing to go along with for the story. And then there's stuff like torture that some people really want to believe works.

Cosmic radiation doesn't win the story points for being war pr0n.

But torture that produces useful intelligence and torture that produces beneficially transformed humans gets plenty of points for war pr0n.

#72 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Shorter me: No one seriously thinks that if you expose yourself to cosmic radiation that you'll turn into Mr. Fantastic. But people seriously think that torture is a good thing, a useful thing. And fiction that pander to that viewpoint, that infatuation with violence, by showing torture as useful and beneficial are war pr0n.

#73 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Jack Ruttan @ 68: The one that comes immediately to mind is Ursula K LeGuin's _The Dispossessed_, as well as several of her other books. If you're more interested in outright political writing, you might also looks for works by Nestor Makhno, Errico Malatesta, and Federica Montseny - I particularly recommend Makhno's _My Struggle Against The State_.

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 11:01 AM:

candle 64: Cromwell isn't directly linked to Guy Fawkes, of course, so this isn't exactly comparing like with like. But "may he burn and burn" seems to pick out Guy Fawkes unduly, or else reveals a horror at the apparent anticipation of 9/11 while ignoring what would now be called state terror and war crimes on the other side.

Did you know that the massacre at Drogheda also took place on the 11th of September?

#75 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 12:33 PM:

@ 68: Children of Men, the film.

I'm a little ways into the book. Haven't read enough yet to comment on the development of the themes.

#76 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Caroline #75: If you're like me, you never will. Read enough, that is. Over. Wrought. Prose.

#77 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 01:00 PM:

"No one seriously thinks that if you expose yourself to cosmic radiation that you'll turn into Mr. Fantastic. But people seriously think that torture is a good thing, a useful thing. And fiction that pander to that viewpoint, that infatuation with violence, by showing torture as useful and beneficial are war pr0n."


okay well, why not just clarify that it is the proper purpose of writers of fiction to produce morally edifying works and leave it at that.

first of all it did not show torture as useful and beneficial in the ways that torture and useful are dreamt of as being useful and beneficial by those that want to use torture. They dream of using torture to extract information or to compel obedience. Evey did not provide information nor did she become obedient (you may wish to argue she did because V bent her to his will but I think that would be a somewhat perverse argument)

What the movie depicted was rather a variation of "the hero who resists torture" from fiction to achieve freedom. It was an especially clever variation of this because V was himself a hero who had resisted torture to achieve freedom, and while the torture was real it was masked, the purpose was not the ostensible point of the torture.
As such it might have caused people to wish to be tortured so as to transcend the torture, but I guess many movies with heroic secret agents do the same thing. It might also cause someone to wish to torture to make someone a better more confident woman, but I guess that could be true of Pedro Almodovar (the reference to Almodovar in this context is intended.)


As for the War Porn thing, well I guess, if the purpose was to get people turned on by the torture and to make them want to torture. uh except that it wasn't torture in war. uh and I guess it probably didn't have that effect with most people, actually I expect with nobody that could be classified normal.

In fact I think not just that you're wrong but your reaction to this fiction has been warped by the shocks of your current reality. When George Bush starts arguing for torture as being necessary to give the Terrorists a transcendental experience allowing them to be spiritually reborn as stronger more determined and unbreakable human beings you may have a point.

As far as the argument that everybody breaks, well maybe.

#78 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Coffeedryad #73: The Dispossessed was great. I'm hoping that recent culture such as the anti-war protests, those Danish kids and their art centre, or even squatters in various cities have inspired some sort of good fiction or film.

There was a film "The Best of Youth," about brothers growing up in Italy through the years of protests there, and one falling in love with a member of the Brigado Rosso while the other became a cop. Not heavy on politics, but you get a sense of times, and the choices.

#79 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Xopher @52: Minneapolis. A quick search, though, turned up a bunch of active hits on Amazon and various costume stores, so you may still have a chance? The prices range from $8 to $14 or so.

C. Wingate @48: Much thanks for the Hutton link! It did remind me that I keep wanting to find a decent book on James I, because Hutton's description of him is so different from what normally makes it into history summaries. (Suggestions welcome, should anyone have favorites.)

#80 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Kate @31 : Oddly enough, I didn't. Stuff blows up around Wicker so often that it's often more memorable when it doesn't.

Dr Paisley @58: Erik V. Olson. Celebrate loudly, but safely (i.e., don't drop the chainsaw on the homemade thermite [this time]) I didn't see anyone 'dropping' chainsaws into the thermite pile. Flinging, yeah. It was too hot to get close enough to drop anything into that pile. (Unlike a couple of years ago, with a much smaller pile, when the kids were throwing coins and branches and beer bottles (empty, of course) into the volcano to watch them melt and/or burn.)

#81 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Vaguely related: anyone who has not already seen Revengers Tragedy (and who does not have an aversion to very odd movies) should do so. Post-apocalyptic film adaptation of a Jacobean play starring Christopher Eccleston, Derek Jacobi, and Eddie Izzard. Quite the winning combination, I thought. Given the source material, I don't think anyone will be surprised to learn that it has a "rocks fall everyone dies" sort of ending.

#82 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:22 PM:

ajay: If conspiracy is more your thing, you should try "Treason in the Blood", a biography of St. John and Kim Philby.

It's a great book.

Then read, Declare by Tim Powers.

That will give you conspiracy thoughts.

#83 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Xopher:
Did you know that the massacre at Drogheda also took place on the 11th of September?

Oh, I spotted that when I read the piece I linked to and then immediately forgot. Part of the problem is that September 11th is my best friend's birthday, so I'm used to seeing it in other contexts.

But yes, add Drogheda to the list of associations for that date.

Jack@78:
There was a film "The Best of Youth," about brothers growing up in Italy...

I liked The Best of Youth too, although it did suffer a little bit from the way the brothers got involved in every major event in twentieth century Italian history. (The same director made I Cento Passi, which is the best Mafia film I've seen - I don't know if there is an English version around, although I seem to remember it was once shown at a film festival in London.)

Anyway, if you read Italian then you might like Natalia Ginzburg's book Caro Michele. I haven't read it, but it sounds as though it might take on the issues of terrorism and politics you are interested in.

#84 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Should. Research. Before. Commenting.

Caro Michele exists in English as Dear Michael or (for some reason) No Way. I Cento Passi exists in a version called One Hundred Steps, although I can't see whether it is dubbed or subtitled (or not) and it seems not to be on sale anywhere.

There was also a recent-ish film about the kidnap of Aldo Moro, called Buongiorno, Notte (Good Morning, Night) - in fact, this wikipedia page lists a whole series of versions of the story.

And then there's One Day in September and Munich and a good documentary about the Weathermen I saw once...

Evidently I have an unhealthy interest in this stuff.

#85 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:48 PM:

candle 83: My birthday too. That's why I remembered the date of the Drogheda massacre.

Years ago, I met some Sinn Fein party members (actually I think they were Provisional IRA, but they didn't announce that and I didn't ask) who denied that Cromwell ever massacred anyone at Drogheda. You see, he was a Republican (in the Irish sense, not the American), and never would have done anything like that. It was a royalist revision.

I politely changed the subject.

#86 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Triple post! Sorry, I'll stop for a bit now.

Also of interest, from that Wikipedia page (which doesn't cite a first-hand source):

During the investigation of Moro's kidnapping, General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa reportedly responded to a member of the security services who suggested torture against a suspect, "Italy can survive the loss of Aldo Moro. It would not survive the introduction of torture."

This when a well-respected Christian Democrat Prime Minister had been kidnapped by terrorists and was known to be still alive.

#87 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 04:49 PM:

candle 83: My birthday too. That's why I remembered the date of the Drogheda massacre.

Years ago, I met some Sinn Fein party members (actually I think they were Provisional IRA, but they didn't announce that and I didn't ask) who denied that Cromwell ever massacred anyone at Drogheda. You see, he was a Republican (in the Irish sense, not the American), and never would have done anything like that. It was a royalist revision.

I politely changed the subject.

#88 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 05:19 PM:

To Jack Ruttan @68, on the subject of "works that are political that investigate issues in anarchy and terrorism in interesting ways":

Barry Longyear wrote a short story called "A Time for Terror." Doesn't deal with anarchy, just terrorism. I read it in his collection It Came from Schenectady. The book came out in 1984, so you may have to search a bit.

#89 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 05:44 PM:

shadowsong #81: I clicked on the imdb link, saw it was directed by Alex Cox, went "Ooh!", and went to add it to my Netflix queueueueue, and lo and behold, it was already there. So now I'm moving it up in the queueueueue.

#90 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 05:45 PM:
...necessary to give the Terrorists...

YM 'Gully Foyle'

...a transcendental experience allowing them to be spiritually reborn as stronger more determined and unbreakable human...

...who is able to perform a Space Jaunt.

#91 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Lizzy L @25:
Do read the graphic novel/comic book version.

Greg London @71:
Might I suggest that you read the comic book version if you already haven't already? They are very different beasts. The plot elements are basically the same but the movie version glosses over & simplifys what is a complex & nuanced tale that resonates with the reader long after it ends.

Moore's concern that viewers of the movie version would equate it to the/his comic book version, when in his opinion, they couldn't be more different, was his reason for publicly disassociating himself from the movie version.

Moore's name doen't appear on the movie credits. In the movie, the end credits state, quite laughably IMO: "Based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd". It's like disliking the movie "Starship Troopers" and then complaining about Heinlein being a bad writer. The writer of the original doesn't have much (if any) say on how it's adapted into a movie.

Jack @68:
It's ironic that so many of his comic book collaborations have been made into films ("V," "From Hell," "League of [...] Gentlemen," and "Watchmen" upcoming), but he wants nothing to do with them.

Yeah, but if you compare his comic book originals to the movie versions (one is tempted to type "aberrations"), can you blame him?

#92 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 06:55 PM:

candle 83: My birthday too.

I feel I should probably have known that. Evidently it was a propitious date to be born, if not for much else.

#93 ::: MisterOregon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Earl @ 47:

I didn't see anyone else answer this so I thought I would tell you what an English colleague told me last year. Take the following with a huge grain of salt.

The short answer is that it was a reference to the honorable act of providing the condemned a "last meal" before execution. Because the gunpoweder plot was seen as ultimately a Catholic act, the ultimate responsibility lay with the Pope.

Basically giving him the lowest common denominator of English foodstuffs at the time (a penny loaf and a farthing of cheese) and then executing him in pretty much the most horrific way kids could think up (burning him until his head exploded).

Because we all know he's not REALLY dead until he's GRUESOMELY dead.

If any of that is pure ballocks I fully expect any of the literally scores of people on this board who know better to correct me.

#94 ::: MisterOregon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Shadowsong @ 81:

I LOVED "Revengers Tragedy" when I saw it at a film festival a few years back. As a serious Eddie Izzard fanatic it was a great surprise.

I'd have to say though, it would be a TON better on DVD...the combination of archaic dialog, strong accents and truly rapid-fire delivery made some of the intense sections difficult to follow. Pause and rewind are our friends.

#95 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 07:35 PM:

MisterOregon @ 94: The accents (or Eccleston's, at least) weren't nearly as problematic as I would normally find them - I had just finished watching season 1 of the new Doctor Who all at once and was casting about trying to find more stuff with Eccleston, so I was used to the way he spoke by that point. Still, the subtitles that I'm almost certain were on my DVD were quite helpful. :)

The "more stuff with Eccleston" phase also turned up "The Second Coming", which is also (or perhaps more) Quite Strange. Written by New-Who show runner Russell T Davies.

#96 ::: MisterOregon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 07:55 PM:

"The Second Coming" frustrated me to almost no end. There were just SO MANY things I would have done differently and I kept finding myself yelling at the characters. So it draws a "meh" rating from me.

As for "Revengers Tragedy" it wasn't just the accents, but also the shear kinetic-ness of some of the scenes combined with really rapid delivery. I'm thinking particularly of a scene in a Barcelona nightclub. I could manage about three words in five; enough to follow but enough to be confused too.

The grand soliloquy here and there, no problem. Six guys with roughly similar accents and voice tones was just brutal. I could sort out Eccleston and Izzard most of the time, but the rest started getting really "soupy" for me.

Let it also be said to anyone who hasn't seen it, that it is by almost any standard, really really weird.

Hero's with dead people's heads weird. Reverse Oedipus Complex weird. Post-apocalypse Jacobian English weird.

And I thought the weird was good. Really really good.

#97 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:02 PM:

shadowsong #95: If your anything-with-Eccleston phase is ongoing, and you're considering allowing it to extend to the Dark Is Rising movie, please do not. That movie is beyond awful, into some new realm of horrific badness for which no words exist. It is not just crappy, but a force of crappiness, which makes the viewer crappy for a time after watching it. It, however briefly, even makes Christopher Eccleston himself crappy. Don't let this happen to you.

#98 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:10 PM:

When I was growing up in Sheffield, we saw Guys every November. Most of them were just old clothes stuffed with more old clothes, topped with a pair of tights stuffed with yet more old clothes and with features drawn on in lipstick or felt-tip pen, and rolled from house to house in an old pram. Some of them, though, were little works of art.
Since I moved down to London in the mid-80s, I don't recall ever having seen a Guy. Presumably, the kids get the money for fireworks elsewhere, or have lost interest in them altogether. And despite the hassle of having your door knocked on every couple of minutes by some spotty youth with an assemblage of old clothing in a wrecked old pram, I actually miss that. This November 5 (and I'll grant you we were away at NovaCon this weekend so we may have missed them) was entirely devoid of Guys again.

#99 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:30 PM:

bryan@77: why not just clarify that it is the proper purpose of writers of fiction to produce morally edifying works

Oy. There's a distinction people use to categorize certain types of fiction. It's a category called "Mary Sue". It's useful for describing a piece of fiction when communicating with another person. That a story is a "Mary Sue" does not mean it's good or bad. It describes an aspect of the story. Like you might describe a shirt as being "blue", and blue is neither inherently good nor bad.

The idea of "war porn" is a similar thing. It is a category to describe some kinds of fiction. It isn't necessarily good or bad, it's just a descriptor.

Now, you might say you don't like a shirt because it's blue. Or you might say you don't like a story because it's war porn. But that doesnt mean you're also saying that the proper purpose of shirtmakers is to produce non-blue shirts. Nor does it mean that you're also saying that the proper purpose of fiction writers is to produce non-war-pr0n stories.

So, me telling you that I didn't like V For Vendetta because of the part where V tortures Evey, and because the result of that torture is that Evey is not broken, but rather that Evey is transformed into a fearless woman, and because that torture scene is somethign I would categorize as war porn, doesn't mean I'm demanding all fiction writers write "morally edifying works".

I'm describing how something subjective, a piece of fiction, occurred for me, and trying to point to why I didn't like it.

I think not just that you're wrong but your reaction to this fiction has been warped by the shocks of your current reality.

No. Saying "I didn't like this because it was war porn" is little different than saying "I didn't like that because it was a mary sue." Neither statement grants you license to psychoanalyze me.

I didn't like it. Here's why. Telling me I'm wrong for not liking it or for whatever reason I don't like it is missing what it means to be "subjective". I get to say what I do and do not like. You are free to have your own subjective experience. But you don't get to declare me wrong for mine.

As far as the argument that everybody breaks, well maybe.

Maybe? People who've suffered severe torture often have life long negative effects such as night terrors, panic attacks during the day, and so on. You can debate the statistics of what percentage are this and what percentage are that. But you can't hedge your bet on Evey's transformation on a "Well, maybe". There is nothing in real life to support the sort of transformation that Evey went through. It doesn't happen that way. Torture does not do that.

In real life, torture doesn't give you information to stop the ticking bomb. And you can't give a "well, maybe" to change that into some hypothetical, fictional scenario.

#100 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Watched "V" last night.

Was it the torture that we are supposed to believe Evey fearless, or was it Valerie's story and her exhortation not to give up . . . or both?

#101 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Soon Lee@91: Might I suggest that you read the comic book version if you already haven't already?

I have the comic book. I haven't read it yet. It's on my list.

There's a couple things at work for me. First, the torturing Evey was gratuitous as far as achieving the goal of making her courageous. V inspired a whole mob of people to stand up to the government on the fifth of november. They overcame their fear. And they didnt' get tortured.

Evey could have found her courage the same way they did. By standing up to the thing she feared.

The other thing was that it robbed the story of the impact of her torture. You are watching it and thinking she's going through this horrible thing, that she might be killed and dumped into a shallow grave at any moment.

But then you find out it was V doing it. That it was orchestrated from the beginning. That she was never in danger of being killed, because V wasn't trying to break her, V was trying to lift her up.


#102 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 09:39 PM:

But then you find out it was V doing it. That it was orchestrated from the beginning. That she was never in danger of being killed, because V wasn't trying to break her, V was trying to lift her up.

Huh? You did miss the point. She was in immediate danger of being killed. If she had broken, V would have killed her rather than risk being compromised. How did you get that she was never in any danger?

Was it the torture that we are supposed to believe Evey fearless, or was it Valerie's story and her exhortation not to give up . . . or both?

Valerie's story, absolutely.

#103 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2007, 10:17 PM:

I've never actually seen anything burned on Guy Fawkes day, but I've seen a similar custom with (so far as I'm aware) a completely different origin. In Ecuador, they used to burn "old men" on midnight every New Year's Eve, as an out with the old year and in with the new sort of thing.

They'd make straw dummies dressed in old clothing, with plastic masks (often of politicians) that you could buy all over the place in the weeks beforehand. Some people would set up whole little stands with captions coming from the old men, as these 3-D political cartoons or just dirty jokes. (The big plastic naked breasts were almost as popular as the plastic politician masks.)

In the early evening--this was near the equator, so the sun didn't go down much earlier in December than the rest of the year--everyone would head out onto the streets and walk around looking at the displayed Old Men. The more elaborate setups would often have a donation box for dropping in some change if you were amused by the jokes. Then at midnight (or just after sunset, depending on the area), every member of the family would go beat up the Old Man, and then it would be set on fire. (Poorer families would usually strip the clothing back off the dummy before it was burned.) Subsequently, firecrackers, then the kids go to bed and all the adults went out drinking.

Now I feel a bit left out, that my cultural heritage has no dummy-burning yearly tradition. It was tremendous fun when I was a kid to see all of that done, and occasional New Year's fireworks just aren't the same as torching a straw man.

#104 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Cromwell isn't directly linked to Guy Fawkes, of course, so this isn't exactly comparing like with like. But "may he burn and burn" seems to pick out Guy Fawkes unduly, or else reveals a horror at the apparent anticipation of 9/11 while ignoring what would now be called state terror and war crimes on the other side.

You haven't denounced St. Bartholomew's Day! Papo-fascist!

#105 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 03:09 AM:

"Maybe? People who've suffered severe torture often have life long negative effects such as..."

yes I believe I'm as familiar with the effects of torture in the long term as you are. I was under the impression that you were arguing that everybody breaks which is different than everybody suffers long lasting effects.

'There's a distinction people use to categorize certain types of fiction. It's a category called "Mary Sue".'
thanks, as a long time poster on MakingLight I have never ever heard of the concept before.

'The idea of "war porn" is a similar thing. It is a category to describe some kinds of fiction. It isn't necessarily good or bad, it's just a descriptor.'

I'm sorry but both war porn and Mary Sue are generally value laden terms, you really don't get to say I think this is a Mary Sue War Porn and then argue you never said it was bad.

"I didn't like it. Here's why. "
You've told me it was a Mary Sue War Porn which seems a little bit of a strange definition. The war porn thing i could nearly buy (although I believe it is another sort of porn altogether, that should have also been clear from my last post - but to say it plain the porn it is similar to is very refined S&M and the hero under torture narrative). I think though that if you assert it is a Mary Sue that seems a bit much and should require a bit of explanation. Which character do you think Moore is thinking of himself as, or is it the directors of the movie that are Mary Sue-ing here? And in what way.

'So, me telling you that I didn't like V For Vendetta because of the part where V tortures Evey, and because the result of that torture is that Evey is not broken, but rather that Evey is transformed into a fearless woman, and because that torture scene is somethign I would categorize as war porn, doesn't mean I'm demanding all fiction writers write "morally edifying works".'

ok but when you write something like
"There's comic book tools like radiation that people are willing to go along with for the story. And then there's stuff like torture that some people really want to believe works."
it sounds like your objection is you think people will point at it and say that see torture really works, which as I pointed out earlier it doesn't really work in the movie, because it did not work for any of the things that people tend to want to use torture for, it in fact worked against those things, which makes it another type of narrative altogether. It makes it a variation of the anti-torture narrative in a very tricky fashion: the narrative is normally that hero stands up to torture and does not reveal the location of X (or V in this case) to the big bad nazi, but in this narrative when the hero does not reveal the location of V it turns out the big bad nazi is V, thus the ostensible reason of the torture is removed from the narrative leaving only the after effects of the tortured hero narrative, which makes the whole thing seem rather like torture as therapy, I agree.

That should be clear once it is pointed out, I also note it was the one very lengthy part of my post that you didn't really respond to.

Dick Cheney doesn't want to torture because he thinks Moslems will become more courageous people , he wants to do it because he thinks they will become broken. In the world with which I am familiar the narrative of torture which makes people want to torture is the various versions of the ticking bomb narrative with the good American doing the torturing to stop the evildoer. The only variation between that and the hero narrative is of course where one puts the moral valuation and how the tortured person holds out. Because in the problematic 'making people want to torture' narratives the tortured person gives in.

At some point in the future torture as therapy may become a problematic narrative but as it currently stands, no its not.

#106 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 03:25 AM:

please note that when I say "which makes the whole thing seem rather like torture as therapy, I agree."
the operative word in that statement is 'seems'.

#107 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 03:26 AM:

oops, I meant 'seem' instead of 'seems'

#108 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 05:34 AM:

You haven't denounced St. Bartholomew's Day! Papo-fascist!

Ouch, you're right. All I meant was that continuing moral outrage ("may he burn and burn") about Guy Fawkes seemed a bit disproportionate in the light of everything else that happened in the seventeenth century. I didn't really mean that we all had to denounce the bad things in the past or else be found to have approved of them.

Although I will be examining your record in that respect over the next few months, and compiling a dossier for my masters in the Vatican. So next time a nun knocks on your door, remember: she may be a papal assassin. (Unless they send the albino monk, of course.)

#109 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:25 AM:

bryan@105: I'm sorry but both war porn and Mary Sue are generally value laden terms, you really don't get to say I think this is a Mary Sue War Porn and then argue you never said it was bad.

I said it was bad. And I said it was war porn. And a movie like Predator is war porn, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. "War porn" and "good/bad" are separate distinctions.

You've told me it was a Mary Sue War Porn

Oy. No. I didn't. I was trying to explain that war porn is a category like mary sue is. No where did I say V was a Mary Sue. I also did not say that the problem with VfV was that she wore a blue shirt. that whole bit about the blue shirt was another example of category versus good/bad. Now you're just reading a whole bunch of stuff into my post that I absolutely didn't say.

it sounds like your objection is you think people will point at it and say that see torture really works,

People don't point to "24" and say "See, look, torture works there, we should do it in real life!" Well, maybe some do, but that's not my point. My point is that when I watch a show like "24" it is clear to me that they have designed a show to appeal to a certain base of childish and unrealistic emotions. The word for that is pandering.

David@102: You did miss the point. She was in immediate danger of being killed. If she had broken, V would have killed her

And what part of "Everybody breaks" do you not understand?

If that's the case, it only makes it worse.

The entire scene is portraying a realistic torture scene. V did't put Evey under a big ray gun and say, "No, Evey, I expect you to die!". It wasn't some James Bond or comic book scene. It was portraying real torture. And he tortures her for months, which makes it even more realistic. It gets all the emotional payoff that comes from showing what real torture would look like, rather than putting her under a comic book version of it.

The problem is that the realistic outcome would be that Evey would have broken. She would have said something, anything, to get a repreive from torture. She would have betrayed V in some way. And then a bunch of people in the audience would have lost all sympathy for her, because they're sitting in an air conditioned movie theater, eating popcorn, slurping soda, letting themselves entertain the fantasy in their minds of "I'll never break".

Everyone breaks.

#110 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:34 AM:

109: Almost everybody breaks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._F._E._Yeo-Thomas

"...This officer was again parachuted into France in February, 1944. Despite every security precaution, he was betrayed to the Gestapo in Paris on the 21st March. While being taken by car to Gestapo Headquarters, he was badly "beaten up". He then underwent 4 days continuous interrogation, interspersed with beatings and torture, including immersions, head downwards, in ice-cold water, with legs and arms chained. Interrogations later continued for 2 months and Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was offered his freedom in return for information concerning the Head of a Resistance Secretariat. Owing to his wrist being cut by chains, he contracted blood-poisoning and nearly lost his left arm. He made two daring but unsuccessful attempts to escape. He was then confined in solitude in Fresnes prison for 4 months, including 3 weeks in a darkened cell with very little food. Throughout these months of almost continuous torture, he steadfastly refused to disclose any information..."

#111 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:41 AM:

There is nothing in real life to support the sort of transformation that Evey went through. It doesn't happen that way. Torture does not do that.

There was a guy called Michel Thomas, who died a couple of years ago, and who might provide a counterexample. If you hadn't already made up your mind to twenty decimal places, I mean.

#112 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Some of it may be the storyness of it, if that makes sense. Heroes resist torture, or transcend it, the way they resist/transcend anything bad happening to them. Stories tend to present the atypical people in a way that makes the audience think they're typical. The weakness is that if something is atypical enough, and is thought to be typical, this presentation can be read as an endorsement of the more common view.
If no one thought torture worked, it would be less objectionable for fictional characters to interact with it in unrealistic ways.

I really like the interpretation someone had a while ago (cannot find it now-- post-blindness, I guess) that had V communicating with Evey via the torture, creating her in his image because that's the only way he knew to work. It still doesn't fit with his transformation of the city, but that may be because the people weren't *people* but a tool, the Mob rather than individuals.

Of course, I haven't read the comic and have no interest in doing so. This is all coming from the movie and from this discussion.

#113 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:06 AM:

I'm such a fool. I could be opening a "Torture Your Way to a Better You" clinic and charge thousands of dollars per person.

#114 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Fade Manley @

Now I feel a bit left out, that my cultural heritage has no dummy-burning yearly tradition.

Precisely why I've been advocating that the US change the President's term to one year, at the end of which time he be ritually executed, cooked, and eaten by the next President, VP, and their inner cabinet, in public ceremony. Who needs a dummy?

#115 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Bruce, I could see that becoming a wonderful political assassination plot-- the President spends his term stuffing himself full of arsenic or other poison, then the next administration drops dead a week after the feast.

#116 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:31 AM:

I could be opening a "Torture Your Way to a Better You" clinic and charge thousands of dollars per person.

I don't think anyone is claiming the effect would be common, but you were being very adamant that it *never* happened, and that anyone who suggested that it might was being pornographic.

But hey, perhaps the guy was lying.

#117 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:35 AM:

114: Or perhaps only when the economy slows down or the crops fail.
"Come, Mr President. It is time for you to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man."

#118 ::: Kelda the Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:40 AM:

[delurk]

Disclaimer: I am not in favor of physical or mental torture, since I don't want it approved for use on me.

That said, I thought the whole point of torturing Evey was not any of the we-know-torture-doesn't-work-for-this scenarios (V wasn't trying to get any real info out of her), but specifically to 1) put her in V's original position and 2) manipulate her into his perspective.

As such, I think the torture was supposed to be more of a brainwashing tool-- apply intolerable pressure via torture and then provide a "fortuitous" source of strength (Valerie's letter) as THE ONLY way to resist/escape.

As has been made clear in other threads, one thing torture does do is allow the torturer to manipulate the victim's sense of reality and perspective.

Not saying I like it; just saying I think that's the rationale within the story. Might be more evident in the book, though.

[relurk]

#119 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:54 AM:

re 114: I think it would be more efficatious to do that to political columnists. Or maybe presidential advisers.

Hmmm.... how about campaign advisors, on the day after the election? We could use pyres of ballots.

#120 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 12:20 PM:

#113 ::: Greg London

I'm such a fool. I could be opening a "Torture Your Way to a Better You" clinic and charge thousands of dollars per person.

You could make it a correspondence course, on-line. (I am so biting my tongue!)

#121 ::: JerolJ ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 12:37 PM:

You could make it a correspondence course, on-line

Phoenix University, in association with Blackwater USA, is pleased to offer...

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Wait, was there actually anything in the movie that suggested that Evie was being asked questions? (I honestly don't remember.) Remember that V was replicating what happened to him, and the government wasn't trying to get information out of him, just brainwash him.

Torture DOES work as a brainwashing technique.

#123 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 01:15 PM:

ehtan @ 97: shadowsong #95: If your anything-with-Eccleston phase is ongoing, and you're considering allowing it to extend to the Dark Is Rising movie, please do not. That movie is beyond awful, into some new realm of horrific badness for which no words exist. It is not just crappy, but a force of crappiness, which makes the viewer crappy for a time after watching it. It, however briefly, even makes Christopher Eccleston himself crappy. Don't let this happen to you.

That movie made it to our dollar cinema in record time. NPR had a story on the...phenomenon, and played a bit of the trailer, which made it sound like 10 Things I Hate About the Commandments.

Bruce @ 114: Precisely why I've been advocating that the US change the President's term to one year, at the end of which time he be ritually executed, cooked, and eaten by the next President, VP, and their inner cabinet, in public ceremony. Who needs a dummy?

We already got one, but thanks.

#124 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Greg @101:
It's entirely possible that your reading of V remains unchanged after reading the comic book version, but at least (for me) it'll be one based on the source material.

Personally, I found the V character to be repugnant, and yet, the graphic novel/comic book remains a compelling tale.

#125 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:20 PM:

"And what part of "Everybody breaks" do you not understand?"

There have been enough documented cases of people not breaking to say that well, obviously not everybody breaks, I some cases have been pointed out in this thread. But just as obviously such a great number of people break as to make it nearly a certainty that any one person will break.

I believe that Solzhenitsyn made the observation that there was one political prisoner being detained when he was that held up better than the others, and that this was the only political prisoner that was actually in a movement against the government. One thing that keeps people from breaking is that they have something to keep them going.

However there is a difference between not breaking and not having psychological scars because of the experience later.

#126 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:22 PM:

"Wait, was there actually anything in the movie that suggested that Evie was being asked questions?"

yes, at the beginning she was asked to tell them about the whereabouts of codename 'V'.

#127 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 02:55 PM:
Originally posted by 'candle:' So next time a nun knocks on your door, remember: she may be a papal assassin.
Speaking of papal assassins, is everybody watching Lucy: Daughter of the Devil? Because you should be!

Diatryma@112, I believe V explicitly states in the book that that is the reason he did what he did to Evey, that it is the only way he knew how because it had made him into what he was. I can't remember if that's in the movie or not, but it's pretty obviously an allegory to parenting, designed for maximal teen-angst recognition, I'd say.

#128 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 03:37 PM:

I don't look anything like Guy Fawkes, but the security guard inside the Kastenmeier Federal Courthouse here in Madison seemed to think I had gunpowder in my pocket, judging from the way he hurried toward me when I approached the building with my camera. He asked me to identify myself, and I had the feeling he would not accept "Madison Guy" as an answer. Before we're through, I discover that the pillars that hold up our temple of justice aren't nearly as solid as they seem.

#129 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Candle@108:
All I meant was that continuing moral outrage ("may he burn and burn") about Guy Fawkes seemed a bit disproportionate in the light of everything else that happened in the seventeenth century. I didn't really mean that we all had to denounce the bad things in the past or else be found to have approved of them.

My comment was primarily directed at the people who try to hold Fawkes up as a figure of admiration, either seriously or in jest. Regardless of what he was fighting against, he was plotting mass murder in the pursuit of a coup which would, almost certainly, have lead to vast amount of further bloodshed, in a way that only the mad could have thought would lead to a better world. That his mass murder would have swept up hundreds of bystanders only makes his crime worse; even if he could magically have only slain the royals, the nobles, and the parlimentarians who were his primary targets, it would have been an abomination.

#130 ::: Laurel Lyon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:07 PM:

I don't for a moment think that Alan Moore approves of torture or even would recommend controlled torture experiences as a way of achieving transcendence - although achieving transcendence itself is obviously important to him, cf 'Promethea', 'Swamp thing' and other comics of his. I read V for Vendetta in the 80s when it was published as a set of 10 monthly comics, and I have to say that the enforced wait of a month between episodes was absolutely vital in building tension and involving one more deeply with the characters (normally the opposite is true, but the man's a master constructor). Evie's 'kidnapping', her torture and lonely suffering, her finding the note on toilet paper from the next cell, took up one month's comic, after we had already followed her progress and seen her growing through her experiences. After that episode I nearly didn't buy the next issue, because the effect was so powerful it depressed me for a week. And the following issue in which the false torturer is revealed and she goes through a loss and regaining of identity of the kind seen in nervous breakdown (I refer you to the novels of Doris Lessing inter alia) was, correspondingly, equally and amazingly powerful. Realistic, perhaps not, but within the fictional context created in the comic, it was necessary and made sense.

#131 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Thanks to Coffeedryad, Candle, Rozasharn, and Terry Karney (hope I got them all) for political story suggestions and discussion.

#91 Soon Lee: I think Alan Moore would have had more success with his movie adaptations if he'd gotten involved with them, through approvals, etc. The films look to me like producers bought the basic ideas and ran.

Perhaps they gave them to writers who had no idea about the source material. This certainly didn't happen with the Harry Potter Films. I think a lot of it's in how good a contract you can get, or your agent.

"V for Vendetta" is the best, most faithful adaptation of Moore's work yet, but I don't think the W. brothers were writers enough to pull off a really good film.

Comics adaptations generally have little to do with the stories that actually appear in the comics ("Sin City" the exception) perhaps because filmmakers aren't really fans, or read the books. They pick up characters like crazy, however.

My cartoonist friend had his self-published character optioned, maybe by someone who thought he might have the next "Ninja Turtles." Not a great contract, though (money usually comes as a percentage of the production budget of a film actually being made).

#132 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:44 PM:

David@102: You did miss the point. She was in immediate danger of being killed. If she had broken, V would have killed her

Hm, further pondering of this interpretation leads to several major plot and character flaws that are independent of the story being war porn.

First, of all, looking at the story of VfV from start to finish, including everything, except the "V tortures Evey" part, there are several patterns.

The biggest pattern is that V is in control, he is the master puppet. From the moment he escapes the medical lab, nothing happens that wasn't part of his long, patient, scheme. He tracks down every single person directly involved with the camp and kills them. He manages to get several warring factions to face off against each other and do some of his dirty work for him. He manages to get an entire population to rise up and oppose the government. V does not die until every thing is exactly in place for his plan to come to its final fruition. Evey is psychologically ready to pull the lever that starts the train that explodes parliament. And V doesn't get his fatal shot until he chooses to allow himself to be shot.

Another pattern is that V only kills those who tortured him at the medical lab, or those who support and aid those people now, which includes people at the highest levels of a tyrannical government. Or, as an alternative, V might kill minor, irrelevant characters, but who are nontheless evil. The fingermen who tried to rape Evey had nothing to do with V, but we where shown that they were evil, and V killed (or at the very least beat) them.

So, back to your interpretation that V would have killed Evey had she betrayed him:

First of all, V rescues Evey from the rapists and then takes her back to his secret hideout. Then he lets her go, with the knowledge of where to find him, were she to choose to betray him. She then runs around for some months. And then V poses as a government thug, captures her, and tortures her for some number of months.

If he was going to kill her if she betrayed him, that violates both of the above patterns. First, of all, I would say V "knew" that she would not betray him in the torture, just like he "knows" everything else that anyone else is doing enough so that he can play puppeteer and achieve his final goal. But more importantly, it violates the pattern that V only kills those who tortured him, those who support those who tortured him, or those who are shown to be sufficiently evil.

He voluntarily showed Evey his secret hideout. She did not need to know that information. But he revealed it to her. He then captures her and tortures her. If he was willing to kill her for betraying him, then he would be killing someone for breaking under torture, torture that he himself administered, and he would be killing that person for revealing information that they only knew because he told it to them.

Given that people break under torture, given that it is expected by the US military that their own people will eventually break under torture, killing Evey for revealing information under torture, information that she only knew because he chose to reveal it to her, is killing an innocent woman.

V was looking for a successor to replace him when he died. I say Evey was his first and only choice for a successor. Why? Because if Evey was the last success in a long line of failures, that would mean V has a history of revealing his identity to random civilians, then capturing posing as a government thug, torturing them to reveal his identity, and then killing them when they finally break.

Which means either V has a long, dark history of killing innocent people that was never shown in the story, (which would be a horrible infraction of the rules of story telling, for example, hiding the fact that Luke had killed several people on Tantooine as a boy before Obi Wan took him on that damn fool crusade). Or that's not how it happened.

I say that's not how it happened. What fits the pattern of the rest of the story is that V "knew" that Evey was the person to replace him, and he "knew" that she would not break. Which means that while we're watching her undergo all this torture, thinking that at any moment she might be killed, or she might simply die of malnutrition, or a waterboarding incident gone wrong, and dumped in a shallow grave, we then discover that it was V. And he had contrived the whole thing to transform her, and she really was never in the sort of danger that a real torture victim would be in, that we thought she had been in for those months.

It is one of three possibilities:

(1) V has a long history of killing innocent civlians in a search for his replacement and extremely bad story telling hid this information from us.

(2) Evey was V's first and only attempt at finding a replacement, he really would have killed her if she had betrayed him, but then he'd still be killing an innocent, and then he'd also be failing to be the "puppeteer" like his is in every other situation. In every other situation, he "knew" what had to be done, and in this one situation, he bumbles his way through it, and just lucks out. Given that almost everyone breaks, V took a massive chance that his one and only chance to find a replacement actually worked out. Meaning the entire situation was a complete contrivance by the author. A million to one odds and it just happened to work out that all the good guys got what they wanted and no one innocent was permanently harmed. Everything else was methodically planned by V over the course of years. But this important thing of finding a successor he just ad hoc'ed it at the last minute?

Or (3) Evey was V's first choice for a replacement because V somehow "knew" that she would be up to the task. At which point, all the emotional charge that went into her torture is mostly drained when we finally are shown that it is a completely contrived and controlled experiment that couldn't possibly fail because V "knew" it wouldn't.

Now, the other issue with this whole "V tortures Evey" thing is a simple one of genre. V's story was a vengeance story. V was tortured in the medical lab. V spends the rest of his life going around killing the people who tortured him. And killing the people who protect the people who tortured him.

V then goes and tortures Evey. The reasoning is that it got rid of her fear, made her couragous, and transformed her into a powerful woman. When she realizes that V is the one who has been torturing her for months, she is about to break down sobbing. V consoles her by telling her to grab onto that fearlessness that she won during her torture. She manages to do this. And in the end, she is grateful to V.

In short:

Government people torture V. V kills government people.

V tortures Evey. V tells Evey to be grateful to V. And Evey is grateful to V.

That's got nothing to do with being in the category of war porn or anything else. That's just stupid writing.

Why isn't V grateful to the people who tortured him the way he expects Evey to be grateful to him? They both got the same benefit. They both got the same letter. They both got their fearlessness.

Either V should have been grateful to his torturers like Evey was grateful to V. Or Evey should have felt vengeful to V like V was vengeful to his torturers.

The woman doctor wrote in her diary that she had nothing but the best intentions for the experiment. Just like V had nothing but the best intentions for torturing Evey. V and Evey both emerge from their torture with a feeling of fearlessness. V goes and kills everyone including the doctor. But V expects Evey to feel grateful and Evey is grateful.

#133 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:00 PM:

Laurel@130: (I don't think) Alan Moore approves of torture or even would recommend controlled torture experiences as a way of achieving transcendence - although achieving transcendence itself is obviously important to him

Well, he does have a pattern of having characters find satori through frowned upon means.

The cop who ends up supporting V, that cop takes LSD and from the use of that drug is able to divine what's going on with V's history.

V tortures Evey expecting her to achieve a type of satori.

Moore may not be advocating it. I doubt he's going to open a "Torture your way to a better you" clinic any time soon. But I think he believes it to be a reasonably expected outcome.

All of his stories show an infatuation with violence. All of his stories show violence alone achieving things that violence alone could never achieve.

He wouldn't open a clinic, but he would see one story of a POW surviving torture and finding some kind of positive thing, and Moore would nod his head that it would be an expected outcome.

More than anything, I would be willing to bet that he believes that he himself would come out of torture the way Evey did, that he believes he would be one of the few who do not break, that he believes he would not have nightmares for the rest of his life, but rather that he would be a better person for it.

That is, after all, what war porn is all about. It's about the vigilante who never kills an innocent man. It's about the cops who never torture the wrong person, who use torture to save tthe city. It's about the sex appeal of guns. The fantasy of a nice, clean, morally acceptable vengeance.

And Moore's got that in spades.

#134 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:07 PM:

greg,

And Moore's got that in spades.

i don't think you've said (if you did, i missed it) how many books you've read by alan moore. now that you're speculating about the man himself, & not this-one-movie-with-a-screenplay-not-by-alan-moore, i'm curious to know.

#135 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:16 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 131:
#91 Soon Lee: I think Alan Moore would have had more success with his movie adaptations if he'd gotten involved with them, through approvals, etc. The films look to me like producers bought the basic ideas and ran.

Which differs from most film adaptations of books ... how?

Perhaps they gave them to writers who had no idea about the source material. This certainly didn't happen with the Harry Potter Films. I think a lot of it's in how good a contract you can get, or your agent.

In the case of V for Vendetta, the scriptwriters were the Wachowski brothers, who apparently were fans of the graphic novel.

Being able to get some kind of approval is, I think, rather rare for writers. Rowling was in a very unique position: her books were so overwhelmingly popular -- and offered the prospect of a whole series of movies -- that she actually could hold out for real oversight. Of course, the filmmakers have also been very wary of disappointing their ready-made but potentially very picky audience (remember, they want the readers to see all the movies, not just the first).

In any case, the copyright for V for Vendetta (and Watchmen as well) is held by DC Comics, not Alan Moore, so he wasn't in any position to request approval, even if he'd wanted to.[*]


[*] The stories I've read suggest that the producers tried to get Moore involved in a kind of pro-forma sense, for the cachet of having the author supporting them, to add to the buzz, and possibly to attract a few more fans. After he'd demurred, one of the producers went ahead and said something to the effect of "Yes, Alan's on board with us and he's very excited about the script!" -- which was the final straw that prompted Moore to demand his name be removed.

#136 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Greg London said (#133):
All of his stories show an infatuation with violence. All of his stories show violence alone achieving things that violence alone could never achieve.

Really? Which stories? Which stories have you actually read -- not seen the movie, not heard someone else describe to you, or read some synopsis of, but actually read all the way through?

(Because I've read a lot of his stories, and based on them I know you're rather deeply wrong about Moore.)

#137 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:39 PM:

miriam@134: now that you're speculating about the man himself, & not this-one-movie-with-a-screenplay-not-by-alan-moore

Unless V doesn't torture Evey in the book and unless Evey doesn't get the miraculous transformation that she gets in the movie, your objection of differences between film and book is one of format, not substance.

The litmus test for war porn is here. I define it in the first paragraph:

"War pr0n is any fiction that injects the reader into an unrealistic depiction of war, violence, or use of force, allowing the reader to fulfill some wish fulfillment fantasy about force. Often, the wish being fullfilled is the desire to reduce the complexities of real life into something that can be easily solved through the use of force. The world of war pr0n is divided into good guys and bad guys, and the good guys hand out justice to the bad guys, in the form of well-deserved violence, without any of the moral after effects that comes from committing an act of violence in real life."

Does the book not meet the definition? Does it not score points on the litmus test?

According to wikipedia, Moore objected to the movie version because "it ran contrary to the theme of his original work, which was to place fascism and anarchism against one another"

Moore objects not because they took his story and turned it into war porn, but because his story was how the violence of anarchy would overthrow the violence of fascism, and he thought they turned it into a story about "current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism"

What does he do when he disagrees with some adaptation of his work? Storms off. Demands his name be taken off the project. And condemns the work. And this happened more than once with him. Not exactly high on the level of diplomatic skills. I mean, seriously, was the "anarchy versus facism" story that diluted in the movie? It seemed pretty fricken obvious to me it was there.

I dunno, but it sounds like a guy who hasn't gotten very far beyond the physical level of human development. That doesn't mean all his works must be war porn, but he sure seems comfortable operating there himself.

#138 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:55 PM:

greg,

his story was how the violence of anarchy would overthrow the violence of fascism

no, you are wrong. come back after you've read the book. (& if you're really curious about moore's personal views, i wouldn't go on wikipedia articles alone. there are a lot of interviews with alan moore on the web.)

i don't care about your litmus test for war porn. i'm not going to jump through that hoop.

i think it is perfectly valid for you to say, "i can't countenance any film where torture doesn't lead to x, y, & z. in the film, it doesn't, so i can't stand the film. i am given to understand that torture doesn't result in x, y, & z in the book, either, so i probably will hate the book."

but do you see how that's different from saying that you can tell us exactly what alan moore believes, about the world & about himself, what "stage of development" he is at, based on not one word that alan moore has written or spoken????

(coughs. breathes. breathes again.)

sorry. what i meant to say is,

no, you are wrong. come back after you've read the book.

#139 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Greg,

I notice that once again you are manifesting a strong need for this topic - just like Harry Potter, just like copyright, just like a number of others - to be all about you.

I can't even say that it's about your ideas, given that as with the Harry Potter, you've again admitted you have not even read the book you are now pontificating about.

While I know you are not an Internet troll, I suggest you take some time off and seriously reflect on the points of commonality between your behavior and a number of the same. It's not a dialog if you are ignoring both facts and opinions stated by others, and simply restating your own beliefs over and over, louder and louder.

#140 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:45 PM:

Well, in support of Greg's point in 133 about Alan Moore and violence ... in Watchmen, a character kills off most of New York (I believe) and thinks he's doing good.

In "The Killing Joke," the Joker does a really nasty, violent thing to Commissioner Gordon's daughter to try to make a point about extreme events driving people to madness.

Neither of these characters are heroic -- in fact they're the antagonists in the stories. And the case has been made for V being nuts.

I don't buy the "porn" definition applied to those stories, but it's certainly provocative.

#141 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:09 AM:

I said: The films look to me like producers bought the basic ideas and ran.

#135 ::: Peter Erwin said: Which differs from most film adaptations of books ... how?

At least they follow the plot....? I liked "Wonder Boys." But I had no hint that I was watching anything other than standard mainstream movies when I saw "From Hell," or "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

Neil Gaiman seems to have played the game a little better, though "Stardust" doesn't seem to be a hit.

Trying to work "Lord of the Rings" into here, but that's a dead author. They worked hard to get the look right for the fans, but changed a lot of the story to build up action and character conflict.

There was an interesting story on the web I'm not going to try to find now about P.L. Travers basically going along with what Walt Disney did with "Mary Poppins," but she must have had some "WTF?" moments there.

Didn't know that about Moore not owning the copyrights for "V for Vendetta" or "Watchmen," but it makes sense. People have been trying to do a movie of Jeff Smith's comic "Bone," but he's turned them down when they said they were going to put songs in it, for one thing.

Film adaptations seem to be better when they involve the original author more closely. I'm looking forward to "Persepolis," based on Marjane Satrapi's comic book series.

#142 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:47 AM:

There was an interesting story on the web I'm not going to try to find now about P.L. Travers basically going along with what Walt Disney did with "Mary Poppins," but she must have had some "WTF?" moments there.

I thought the Mary Poppins author was so aghast with what they'd done to her book that she tried to picket the theater, but I may be confusing two separate authorial outrage incidents. I'm quite sure she wasn't happy about them; I read a fascinating article recently (which I sadly cannot find now) discussing how she kept trying to provide authorial oversight in the production of the movie, and getting blown off. The whole part she had written about strong female characters got turned into "Those silly women who want the vote are responsible for their children being wild, and should stay home to mind the kids!" and apparently she was...wroth.

#143 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:12 AM:

jack,

Didn't know that about Moore not owning the copyrights for "V for Vendetta" or "Watchmen," but it makes sense. People have been trying to do a movie of Jeff Smith's comic "Bone," but he's turned them down when they said they were going to put songs in it, for one thing.

right. it's not that moore stomped off in a sulk after the screenplays didn't go exactly his way, it's that (as far as i can tell), he never wanted movies made from his books, but as the non-copyright-holder, he never had the choice.

(i'm not sure how it worked with "league of extraordinary gentlemen", as i thought he did own that. & that movie didn't have his name on & was ten times worse than "vendetta" or "hell.")

& earlier jack,

absolutely i think there are discussions to be had about moore's beliefs about the righteousness of violence. they are ambiguous & troubling to say the least (like, god, gur vaivfvoyr zna jnf encrq gb qrngu va yrnthr, juvpu v guvax jr jrer fhccbfrq gb purre. ohg purre va n thvygl & ubeevsvrq znaare?). but i'd rather have these discussios with people who have read moore's books.

#144 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:28 AM:

I liked what they did with Lord of the Rings. Film is a different medium than print. If you try to make a book on tape with pictures the result will be an artistic disaster. Odds are, you will need a different narrative on film than if you want to tell the same story that was in the book.

Comics may be a different story.

#145 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 03:42 AM:

I think it's reasonable to criticize the film's handling of the torture subject. And "well, the book is better" is not really a defence against that. I agree that Moore is not responsible for what may or may not be wrong with the film, and Greg does seem to be trying to put the blame on him a bit. But generally, just because the film happens to be adapted from the book, it doesn't mean that you can't criticize the film at all unless you've read the original book.

The other thing that the film does, no idea whether this is reflected by the original graphic novel, is sexualize Evey's torture. That's partly because it's a deeply embedded genre convention of Hollywood films that the lead actress is always on display as a sexual object. But even when I believed that the torturer was an actual fascist thug, I was bothered by that.

#146 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 04:40 AM:

Sigh. Greg, I know you are a rational and decent person, but your commenting pattern in this thread, as somebody else pointed out, is rather trollish. You got your strawman arguments on one specific point of a (bad) adaptation, and relentlessly proceed to criticize the author of the original work without having read it.

Ther is little point debating you at this point. But I'll try one last time.

Think of it like this: Evey is in "1984", but thanks to the letter, she knows she's not alone... so she reacts in the opposite way as the "hero" (and everybody else) in 1984. If anything, it's a hopeful message from Moore: "1984" can come, and somebody will survive with his human dignity anyway. You might not agree with that message, but it's certainly an optimistic one, and not some sort of commentary on the positive effects of torture.

#147 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 05:15 AM:

well first of all I don't agree with everyone that V would have killed Evey for revealing his whereabouts under torture. he would just have kept her locked up, like he did originally (talking movie here, its been years since I read the book)

"V tortures Evey expecting her to achieve a type of satori.

Moore may not be advocating it. I doubt he's going to open a 'Torture your way to a better you' clinic any time soon. But I think he believes it to be a reasonably expected outcome."

yes as long as one has the love of a good woman named Valerie to keep one going.

ok actually Moore thinks that torture produces better people and thinks he would be a better person for it because he shows two people that become better people through torture.

well maybe we should step back and say it is not Moore that thinks this but the filmmakers

but then why do they have one better person through torture tell the other better person through torture that he is a monster. Monster must be some code word for impressively cool dude.

You keep saying that Evey is grateful and I guess she is, but it is an awfully ambivalent gratefulness.

Also you keep arguing that everything goes the way V wants, when it should be obvious that what V wants is for Evey to stay. I mean he is in love with the woman and he manipulated her to go away, that was the meaning of my original comment as to him being more messed up than I had assumed which you seemed to take seriously, as if he really did want her to leave, of course! It's obvious!

I guess after she left and he had his fit and screamed it was a fit of joy at how well his plan was working.


#148 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 05:19 AM:

Earlier in the year, the BBC over here in the UK did a series called Comics Britannia - three parts, the final one dealing with the graphic novel/adult comic - by which I don't mean smut - well, given they do talk about Lost Girls, maybe... Never mind.

My point is, Alan Moore is interviewed, and V for Vendetta is discussed and anyone who's been involved in the discussion upthread will find that a very interesting programme to watch, should you get the chance.

And they talk about things like 2000AD, Charley's War, Tank Girl and oh, lots of good stuff.

Oh and in one of those coincidences that a writer cannot use because real life can get away with stuff that looks far too contrived in fiction, yesterday I came across a photo of a glass-fronted red box full of V masks with 'in case of revolution, break glass'.

I stumbled across it posted on someone's blog, quite unattributed and would dearly love to know where it came from so I could link properly with due attribution etc. Anyone else seen this?

#149 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:31 AM:

Juliet, here is that photo.

#150 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:18 AM:

Laurel Lyon @#130 - After that episode I nearly didn't buy the next issue, because the effect was so powerful it depressed me for a week.... Realistic, perhaps not, but within the fictional context created in the comic, it was necessary and made sense.

Evey's reaction to torture is probably the weakest part of the story*, but most people glide past it due to the revelation taking place within the audience; we impose our sudden insight into what V is onto Evey's feelings; her satori is our satori. Our wonder, shock, horror and suprise are what we think she's feeling. At least that's what happened to me when I read it.

* I don't remember if this is in the film, but in the book I'f znfgre-chccrgrrevat fxvyyf ner cnegyl qhr gb uvz pbagebyyvat gur nyy-cbjreshy fgngr pbzchgre Sngr.

#151 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:37 AM:

#148 Juliet McKenna,
Pretty disappointed in "Tank Girl The Movie" mainly because their Tank Girl wasn't young, sexy or crazy enough. Would have benefited from a madcap "Help" or "Monty Python" treatment rather than the boring SF action movie style they mainly went for.

Some suit said that people don't want to see these kinds of movies with female protagonists. Well, buddy, we want to see good movies with whatever kind of protagonist.

I went to the trouble of installing a ROT13 tool in Firefox, and it's worked exactly once, when I installed it. So gurr hnurr fnurr ruffrxxx (just me growling in frustration)

#152 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Miriam @ #143

Mainstream comics (that's as opposed to the alternative comics people like me do) seem as a whole to be very violent. Could be it's something about the characters being just pen and ink, which releases the id. (Or, could be our sick society, I don't know. I favour the catharsis idea of not trying to bottle it up ... but that's another discussion!)

Have a look at Garth Ennis' "Preacher" which I gather is coming out as a big motion picture soon. Now there's "violence porn," in the sense of mass mayhem pitched to an almost ludicrous degree. It's not to make a moral point I think, but more in the style of "hey, this is comics" we can do anything we want. Isn't this crazy?" "Sin City" was like that too.

It's extreme enough to earn the adjective cartoonish. Maybe I will write more about that some other time. Already overdosing on messaging (haven't done that for a while!)

But the chatter's helping me get interested in the work I'm doing at the moment.

#153 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:34 AM:

A useful distinction to make: in any work of fiction, you have what the characters say, what the author or creator says, and what the story says. Any of these may differ from the other three. I've run into the difference a number of times, usually when I realize, "Hey, this book says it's feminist, and the characters talk like they're feminist, but it's all about the sexy, dangerous man transforming a mousey woman into something willing to fight... over him. Le sigh."

#154 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:56 AM:

Since it wasn't even my point, and since it was a sidebar comment rather distant to the topic of the torture scene, and since folks have sunk their teeth into that one comment, I'm going to withdraw from the discussion about Moore's personal development.

I will say that there are many different planes that people can operate on, and saying that Moore, or anyone else, is strongest on one particular plane isn't an insult but an observation. Folks can disagree whether I have sufficient evidence to make such an observation, but people who are upset are probably not upset at an inaccurate observation but probably upset at what they percieve to be an insult to Moore, and attacking the comment.

It wasn't meant as an insult.

For those who would want to make the discussion about whether or not it was meant as an insult, that would continue to make the thread about me, and in response to Clifton's accusation at 139, I'll do my best to leave those topics untouched.

Clifton at 139 accuses me that I'm making this all about me. I don't think I mentioned myself up until this point. And I'm only bringing the topic to be about me now because people are no longer talking about what happened around the torture scene in V for Vendetta, or about V's motives, or about the effects of torture, or about Moore's reason for writing the story the way he did, but about whether I have the right to comment about one thing or another.

And so, having said all that, I'm just going to say that I'm going to withdraw from further discussion about Moore's personality, and I'm going to withdraw from further discussions that want to question whether I have a right to make various observations, and instead I'm going to redirect my part of the conversation to the topic of the torture scene, for anyone who wishes to discuss that.

If you want to talk about me, well, I'll try to avoid those bits.

So, as for the differences between book and movie, I read through the torture scene in my copy of the book. I read V's capture of Evey. Shaving her head. shoving her head underwater. multiple times. the lack of food. The rat. The time disorientation. The threats of death. The torture. The note on the toilet paper. The order to take her behind the chemical shed and shoot her. Then she's let free to go. She walks out. And into V's lair. V then goes into his shpeel about "I didn't put you in a prison, I just showed you the bars. They* offered you a choice between death of your principles and death of your body, and you said you'd rather die". They go up to the roof, and she stands in the rain. And V gives her the shpeel about how he too emerged from torture, naked, under a roaring sky. Then V tells her to become transfixed, become transfigured. Forever.

The movie is practically a scene for scene duplication of the book's version of the torture scene, right down to the mannequin dressed as a guard in the hallway. How anyone can argue that their is any contextual difference is beyond me.

And the torture produces therapeutic results. V really does torture Evey to a better version of herself, in the book, and in the movie. V beats the fear out of Evey. She is transformed. She is transfigured. She is fearless. Forever.

How is this different than a story about a vigilante and a scene that shows that vigilanteism produces positive results through a contrived sequence of only-possible-in-fiction events?

How is this different than a story that portrays a bad guy as some non-human creature so it makes it more easier for the reader/viewer to allow the character to be killed without any remorse?

How is this different than any other fiction that misdescribes some form of physical violence, war, or the use of force? That's what war porn is. Fiction that misdescribes the effects of violence in an unrealistic positive way.

It is a contrived use of torture that could only possibly produce the result it did because it was written that way, not because torture in the real world works that way.

(*) V says to Evey in the book: "They offered you a choice between death of your principles and death of your body"

Except it wasn't any "they". It was V. This wins a war porn point for distancing the protagonist from his actions. He should have said "I offered you a choice between death of your principles and death of your body."

By itself doens't throw the story into the war porn category, but made me chuckle.

#155 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Niall @149, yes, thanks, that's the one.

Does anyone know where it comes from? Is it someone's artistic reaction to the film or graphic novel fr'instance?

Or is some mass-market piece of merchandising out to separate fans from their cash? Which would have a rather double-edged irony.

#156 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:25 AM:

[Start of trollish grumble]:
You people spend way too much time discussing films, comics, and TV shows!
[End of trollish grumble]

(Or maybe *I* just spend way too much time reading books!)

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Faren... Oh, I think we all read a lot. It's just that we're more likely to have seen the same movies or TV shows than to have read the same books. That's all. I think.

#158 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:38 AM:

*boggle*

Greg, I'm reluctant to get involved in this discussion because you seem so unreasonable in your arguments regarding it. Think about that, for a second, and whether that's something anyone should feel about discussions on Making Light.

Nonetheless: I am stunned, flabbergasted, and baffled that you would go to your book, read the torture chapter in question without having read the rest of the book, and think that that could illuminate you to the context of the torture in any way! What definition of context are you using?

#159 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Well, Faren @ #156, what do you have to say about books you've read?

(relating it somehow to the topic is nice, but you can just do a segue, no matter how far-fetched, and if people are in the mood, they'll bite.)

I've found this strategy works better than complaining. Sort of positive trolling, with more tasty bait. Maybe they can call it "chumming"?

#160 ::: GiacomoL ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Greg, you again (unconsciously) get away with the classic troll technique of "I won't debate this anymore, but THIS IS WHAT I'D SAY IF I KEPT DEBATING". Which, to be honest, I more or less also did a few posts above, but hey, I'm honest :)

You are analysing the work from your point of view, which is heavily biased towards a "violence never ever produces anything good in people", but then forbid me (argh, the troll temptation of using "us") from criticizing your POV.

Well, as the grand-grandson of a (argh, the classic trollish trump card) WW2 Italian resistance fighter, and son of someone physically abused in the military for being a "red bastard", I can only say that your POV is simplistic and dogmatic. People don't get "better" by surviving physical abuse, but they can (CAN) lose fear of this sort of abuse, which is exactly what Evey does (and Winston in 1984 doesn't, because of this "worst possible fear" machine, which is really a sort of cop-out deus-ex-machina).
In VfV's world, you can only be "free" once you lose the fear of violent retribution by the State, because that's the only way in which they maintain control of the population in their typical fascist paradigm. Once that tenuous link is lost, the entire social organization doesn't make sense, and society crumbles. That's the same thing that happened in Italy in 1943 (Godwin be damned, but hey, VfV is also a book about fascism). Sorry, am I talking "war porn"? It's just what happened! That's the context V is moving in, not some generic "us vs them" from the "war on terror" or a 24 story-arc.

But I see you can't be persuaded on that point. I'd like to point out, though, that if your argument was correct, Abu Ghraib and the other various CIA programs would have worked wonders in crippling "certain" people.

I'm sorry you'll never be able to appreciate VfV; that's what Moore feared it would happen, but it's too late. But hey, check out Watchmen, it's even crazier :)

cheers
Giacomo

#161 ::: kyubi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Laurel Lyon @130

Ah! That helps me make sense of something I was perceiving, in a murky kind of way, during that episode in the film: that V intended it as a kind of shamanic ordeal/initiation for Evey. He puts on his psychopomp hat, she undergoes agony and ego-death and all kindsa mean, nasty, ugly things to emerge, transformed, from the shards of her old self -- just as he was transformed (at the hands of his less nattily-dressed torturers/initiators) into Teh Avenjinatr, FTW!

#162 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:52 PM:

jack,

Mainstream comics (that's as opposed to the alternative comics people like me do)

check out the link in me name :) (the link in yours has an extraneous ":")

& yes, i read & half-enjoyed preacher very much. you know cause it ends up being a very poignant story about standing up against wrong & standing by your friends, but there is no way to describe the violence but pornographic. though sometimes it was laugh-out-loud ridiculous.

#163 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 68:

Thinking of "V for Vendetta" (film and comic), I was looking for works that are political that investigate issues in anarchy and terrorism in interesting ways. Anyone know of any good ones?

I really liked both Thomas Harris' novel* Black Sunday, and the documentary One Day in September.

*Or, really, anything he's written--even the post-sellout stuff. I keep waiting for the Hannibal Lecter cookbook.

#164 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Greg, I'm in agreement with Skwid@158. If indeed you've read only the torture scene and not the whole comic book narrative, I don't think you've given Alan Moore's version a fair go. The torture sequence is (AFAIK) identical between comic and movie. It's the overall context that's different and that can only be judged if you've read all of it.

OTOH, if you have read the whole comic version and your opinion remains unchanged, then we'll just have to agree to diagree.

#165 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 141:
Neil Gaiman seems to have played the game a little better, though "Stardust" doesn't seem to be a hit.

But I think Stardust is the only movie to be made from one of Gaiman's books (or comics) so far -- and he went to the trouble of becoming a producer on it, which gave him an additional level of control over the outcome. Also, Gaiman has clearly made an effort to involve himself in film and TV work for its own sake, which lets him understand the game better (and become more cynically accustomed to it).

(He's written amusing and somewhat jaundiced accounts of the permutations that different scripts for a possible "Sandman" movie have gone through, from creative but plausible takes to things that were completely bonkers. But the copyright to "Sandman" is owned by DC Comics, so he has no say in this.)

Didn't know that about Moore not owning the copyrights for "V for Vendetta" or "Watchmen," but it makes sense.

I think that's par for the course in "mainstream" comics: Marvel and DC produce things under work-for-hire arrangements, so they keep the copyright. (And both V and Watchmen were written in the 80s, before Moore had achieved enough stature to -- sometimes -- get things published and retain the copyright, as he did with From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)

#166 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Always read the fine print. This from Comicbook Resources :

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons signed a deal with DC that "Watchmen" would revert to them after the comic book went out of print. He didn't know it would still be in print twenty years later.

#167 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:09 PM:

The Brain: That twenty year clause is finally active! That brilliant comic I wrote so long ago will finally pay off!

Pinky: Brain? What is brain?

#168 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:47 PM:

kyubi@161: V intended it as a kind of shamanic ordeal/initiation for Evey.

Well, the interesting thing is that when you say it that way, no one minds. When I say its a "Torture your way to a new you", people object. But I'm pretty sure we're basically calling it the same thing. V tortures the fear out of Evey.

The problem, of course, is that V had no way of knowing with any certainty what his torture would do to Evey over the course of a couple months. She came out of it fearless, but V couldn't have been certain that would be the result. And then we're left with the moral repugnancy of the fact that V tortured an innocent woman for a couple months, on the chance that she'd become fearless, risking the more likely chance that she'd have emotional wreckage for the rest of her life around it.

Folks can say all they want about people who survive torture or even come out better than they went in, but the fact of the matter is V took a massive gamble with Evey's life.

So, we can call it a shamanic ordeal, or we can call it a seriously morally irresponsible and reckless mind fck of an innocent woman.

At that point, it's just arguing over the label. What is generally agreed upon is that V did this on purpose, that he tortured Evey specifically because he believed it would transform her like it did him.

And when a fictional cop in some story tortures a bad guy to get information, and the bad guy in the story gives him information, and we eventually find out that the guy being tortured is really a bad guy, then it all worked out, but that steps over the fact that the cop took a massive gamble stepping over due process and torturing someone that he only knew in his gut was guilty.

But, here's the other problem for me. Just pretend for a moment that I've already had my "shamanic ordeal". Just pretend that I've gone through some rather long span of time where I underwent "agony and ego-death and all kindsa mean, nasty, ugly things to emerge, transformed, from the shards of her old self". Just say.

So, if you're watching or reading V and you're not experiencing it as a shamanic ordeal because you've already gone through that fire, what is left for you as a viewer to experience?

For me it was simply nothing more than watching Evey be tortured and growing more and more concerned for her life, hoping she'd find a way to escape, or maybe V would rescue her. When I learn that V had been the puppeteer from the beginning, I did not feel any shamanic ordeal, or any rebuilding, because I've already gone through my own. So, all that's left is me being concerned for Evey's life for a long period of time, only to find out she was never in real danger and most of it was a "banging shutter" twist.

What's really sad is that Moore could have easily produced the result he got in Evey without the moral issue of having V torture her and risk scarring her for life. Evey could have been captured by the government and V could have rescued her after some period of time. V clearly had that capability to pull something like that off. He was able to get into the highest levels of government and kill people with impunity. He could have easily snuck or broken into jail and rescued Evey.

Then when he gets Evey back to his secret lair, he could give her the same shpeel about how he was tortured and emerged fearless, and she could have become fearless. And V would be morally clear of torturing innocents.

But it seems that Moore wanted V to torture Evey because he really did want it to be a shamanic ordeal, he really did want it to be a "torture your way to a better you" clinic.

And if you're reading along, and you're undergoing a shamanic experience, well that's cool for you, because you're not actually being tortured.

The main problem is that for me, I've already gone through my own clinic, and so, my experience of Evey's experience, was simply one of fear for her life, followed by a "fooled you!", followed by a "transform yourself". Only problem is, I already did, long ago. And that just leaves the morally repugnant fact that V tortured an innocent woman and risked her sanity on the chance that it would turn out all right.

Which I find little different, morally speaking, from a cop movie where the cop tortures a suspect and in the end it turns out the suspect was guilty.

The ends do not justify the means.

#169 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:01 PM:

I've fought with Greg a lot in the past. I've also had the Alan Moore fight a lot in the past. In this thread? Greg is right. And you guys know that you know that accusations of trollery are themselves a form of trollery.

V gets tortured, and he gets to be a superpowered protagonist revenging himself on his torturers. Evey gets tortured and she gets to devote her life to being an apologist for her torturer. (As you see, I've usually had the "sexism" angle of the fight.) Greg is right that the whole "torture a person to make them what you want them to be" is BS.

#170 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Greg, what I got out of "V for Vendetta" (more the comic than the movie, to be honest) was that V was nuts. Full-on, balls to the wall insane. He happened to be fighting the bad guys, and his "cause" ended up winning, but he was crazy - and he made Evey crazy, too.

It was much more of a "violence perpetuates violence" message than a "violence makes you special" message, except for values of "special" that = "crazy." You're taking V's "Now you're fearless" statement at face value - and I'm not at all sure the author intended it that way. At the end, V is dead, and Evey is broken. They won, but at great, great cost.

#171 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Jeremy: Full-on, balls to the wall insane.

;)

Yeah. I got that. But I also notice that, at least in the movie, that V never harms anyone innocent. Maybe that's different in the book. But in the movie, V never harms anyone who didn't torture him or help torture him or help someone who helped someone who tortured him, or maybe they just worked for teh fascist government and liked the perks of their job.

If he had hurt other innocent people, then hurting Evey would be consistent with his craziness. But he never crosses that line in the movie. Maybe he does that in the book, and it got lost in the translation. He never hurts anyone who is innocent in the movie. Which means he's not completely crazy. But he hurts Evey. He tortures her for a couple months. Whatever the benefit she ended up getting, he took a massive risk with her life to do that, and if it had turned out he was wrong, he would have broken an innocent woman.

So, the "crazy" angle doesn't quite justify the completely inconsistent immoral behaviour he exhibits around Evey.

If he had harmed other innocent people in the book, then that should have been put into the movie to make it much more clear what sort of person V is.

#172 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:18 PM:

Jack Ruttan @151: I went to the trouble of installing a ROT13 tool in Firefox, and it's worked exactly once, when I installed it. So gurr hnurr fnurr ruffrxxx (just me growling in frustration)

Out of reflex, I rot13-ed your frustrated growl and got back "Fb thee uahee sahee ehssekkk", which looks even more squamous and/or rugose than the usual result. Or maybe glabrously insectile or anguinely sinuous, depending.

#173 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Greg: Are you, perhaps, interpreting that sequence from the perspective of thinking V is supposed to be a good guy?

I can see how that would make everything look very different. But that's not (IMO) the intended perspective or conclusion. To rearrange the story in a way that absolved V or didn't require him to act as he did would defeat the purpose.

V acts like a monster because he is one. He is *maybe* *marginally* less bad than his targets.
Authorial endorsement of V's actions is definitely not implied. (Are we trying to avoid spoiling the ending here? If so: I'f qrngu vf na nhgubevny whqtzrag: gubfr jub qrfreir gb qvr qb qvr, vapyhqvat I; guvf perngrf gur fcnpr jurer n fnar fbpvny beqre zvtug or rfgnoyvfurq nsgre gur raq bs gur fgbel. I'f pbagvahrq cerfrapr jbhyq fperj gung hc. Gur snpg gung ur crevfurf ng gur cerpvfr zbzrag jura ur vf ab ybatre arrqrq vf nhgubevny pbagevinapr, bs pbhefr. Ohg vg svgf, qenzngvpnyyl, VZB.)

#174 ::: kyubi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:46 PM:

Greg London @168
The main problem is that for me, I've already gone through my own clinic, and so, my experience of Evey's experience, was simply one of fear for her life, followed by a "fooled you!", followed by a "transform yourself". Only problem is, I already did, long ago. And that just leaves the morally repugnant fact that V tortured an innocent woman and risked her sanity on the chance that it would turn out all right.

Which was pretty much the way I reacted. It infuriated me. What he did was foul, evil, and manipulative (and many other adjectives), and the notion that he was doing it for what he perceived as "her own good" only made it worse, AFAIC.

So, we can call it a shamanic ordeal, or we can call it a seriously morally irresponsible and reckless mind fck of an innocent woman.

My vote is "both of the above". The "shamanic ordeal" interpretation doesn't justify it in any way; it just puts it into a larger mythic context (even if [or maybe especially if] V didn't take note of the fact that ordeals are generally undertaken with the knowledge and consent of the Seeker in question.)

#175 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:59 PM:

Also, in response to #171: If anyone who works for the government is not "innocent", then Evey isn't innocent either. This isn't just a word game - V kills several people who aren't doing anything Evey wouldn't have done before she had her encounter with the Fingermen and V.

Drawing sharp lines between innocent and guilty people is characteristic of some not-very-nice people. Including V. To say that "V never harms anyone innocent" rather misses the point: there aren't any innocent people. His actions against people are frequently grossly disproportionate to their bad acts (and every human being has SOME bad acts.) Judge the world by V's standards and you'd have a world of corpses.

Ultimately, I think _V for Vendetta_ is not a vindication of vengeful vigilanteism's voracious verdict of violence, but rather, views it as vicious, even vile.

#176 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 04:28 AM:

Guys, when Greg gets bad enough, Patrick comes in and tells him to cut it out. Patrick's not here yet.

#177 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 05:13 AM:

I am of the firm suspicion that the torturing of Evey didn't really happen but that it was all a fiction. If in fact it should turn out to be fiction several interesting things would be implied, from a fictional perspective.

The things that are of interest in this as a fictional work are the aspects of mirroring. Since I don't have 10 hours or so nor the space in this comment box required to write all these aspects out in full let me just put some notes regarding these aspects:

Valerie -> V -> E-V

Valerie tortured (as part of medical experimentation, no information required, dies, experiences Satori like state)

V tortured (as part of medical experimentation, becomes superhuman [commentary on superhuman in comics subtext], receives satori from notes from Valerie who dies)

Evey (tortured on pretext of information of whereabouts of V, receives satori from notes from Valerie)

torture of Evey by V is not true mirror image of torture of V by government, differences:

1. torture of V includes medical experimentation that will result in death if non-successful.
2. torture of Evey is to 'get information' supposedly, but actual purpose is not to get information but to make her become like V.

Now I could go on with this but really the idea that what Moore is after is to convince people that Torture improves people is somewhat laughable. If that is the purpose why all these mirrorings.


#178 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 08:50 AM:

Chris@173: Are you, perhaps, interpreting that sequence from the perspective of thinking V is supposed to be a good guy?

Not "good", but sort of like a focused evil. V keeps talking about anarchy, but what he does is actually very tightly focused. He's a methodical and patient man, he's been working on a five year plan and we get to see the last six months or so. he isn't shown as a force of arbitrary or random violence.

V doesn't go out of his way to risk innocent lives anywhere in the story, until Evey.

And either he really was risking her life, in which case, it is a complete abberation in everything else he does in the story, or he really wasn't risking her life, and it's a banging shutter story.

And if he really was risking her life, then it could be fixed by showing him harming other innocent civilians. But I think that doesn't happen in the comic book or movie because the writers want you to have more sympathy for V than you would have for someone who just goes around killing random people. V was portrayed as far more "cool" than that. He is a compelling character specifically because he is NOT arbitrary. He is almost a Darth Vader type character. Evil, but focused, and ruled by his mission of vengeance, rather than the Emporer.

If she wasn't in danger, then it's a banging shutter story. You could easily fix that by having Evey be captured and tortured by the real government, and then have V rescue her. But for whatever reason, Moore choose to have V do it, probably because he really did see the torture scene as some kind of shamanic ordeal, and the moral implications of risking the life and sanity of an innocent woman were secondary to Moore. Or, maybe he just liked the scene because it was a "Sixth Sense" kind of gotcha at the end, "Fooled you. V was torturing her, not the government" and he didn't think through the moral implications or didn't care.

One could probably draw some conclusions about Moore from this, but whatever his motivation, the writing has a fundamental flaw.

#179 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Clifton, #139: I'd like to point out that Greg is not the only person at fault here. There are a couple of other people, most notably Bryan, who appear to be absolutely determined to beat him over the head until he admits that he's wrong. Yes, it's true that Greg has a hard time letting a topic drop when he has strong opinions about it; I've been here long enough to see that happen several times. But it seems less than equitable to come down on him without saying anything to the people who are encouraging that behavior.

Also, please note that Greg doesn't seem to be the only one who holds that opinion. If he's got other people agreeing with what he says, then the accusation of "making the thread all about him" is a little thin.

#180 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 09:28 AM:

I've already gone through my own clinic

You've been tortured?

#181 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:12 AM:

#172 ::: Julie L. wrote:

Out of reflex, I rot13-ed your frustrated growl and got back "Fb thee uahee sahee ehssekkk", which looks even more squamous and/or rugose than the usual result. Or maybe glabrously insectile or anguinely sinuous, depending.

Then it did its job. But you, on the other hand, are making me run to my dictionary.

My rot13 add-on got mapped to the arrow keys of this computer, meaning I can't move the cursor with them, just translate text into lots of gobbledygook (a word not as exotic as yours, I'm afraid).

#182 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:19 AM:

#166 ::: Soon Lee Always read the fine print. This from Comicbook Resources :

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons signed a deal with DC that "Watchmen" would revert to them after the comic book went out of print. He didn't know it would still be in print twenty years later.

Oooh. That's a gotcha. You'd think the creators or their agent would be smarter than that.

I like "Rights revert to the author after 1st publication," but I haven't done a book contract.

#183 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Jack Rutan (#159) asked me to say something about books I've read, dealing with anarchy, terrorism and the like. A bit difficult, since I don't review modern thrillers or even much that takes place in anything like the present day. But in another thread I've mentioned Jo Walton's alternate world of Farthing etc. (where the Nazis kinda sorta won WWII), and the tentative admiration I expressed for the mix of politics, war, scheming and passion in K.J. Parker's Devices and Desires in my current review column will develop into a complete rave for the rest of this highly unconventional is-it-fantasy? trilogy in the next Locus. Two of the three books are already out in the US, and IMHO the completed threesome deserves a more fervent discussion than any number of Moore works or Buffy reruns.

So there!

#184 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Miriam @ #162 - reading your webcomic. Very interesting. I had a friend who went overseas and became a "Sabra." Gives me a hint of what she might have gone through.

You're right about "Preacher." Also, I've fixed my web address, at last, maybe. But the machine likes to change it back, darn it.

#185 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:50 AM:

#163 ::: Scott H: I really liked both Thomas Harris' novel* Black Sunday.

When it came out, I thought Black Sunday was fun in a best-seller-ish kind of way. Now it must read like a template for a lot of today's journalism.

#186 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Greg, this paragraph of yours caught my eye.

The movie is practically a scene for scene duplication of the book's version of the torture scene, right down to the mannequin dressed as a guard in the hallway. How anyone can argue that their is any contextual difference is beyond me.

I don't think you understand what context means. The fact of identical chunks of story is irrelevant. Context is what surrounds them, including the audience. Which has an extra twenty years of history to apply.

There are serious problems with the torture of Evey which don't depend on story context. And there are important points that also don't get changed by the changing context. V is a violent revolutionary, and not so very different from those he seeks to supplant. He uses torture to manipulate people, just like the government he seeks to topple.

That's a dramatic significance to the torture.

#187 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Faren @ #183:

I agree with you, in principle, at least, but it seems that many more people watch Buffy than read book reviews. And of those who read, only a certain number bother to respond. So those are the percentages.

That doesn't stop me writing about whatever, though.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 11:14 AM:

How is Faren's Computer doing these days?

#189 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 12:17 PM:

#166 ::: Soon Lee Always read the fine print. This from Comicbook Resources :

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons signed a deal with DC that "Watchmen" would revert to them after the comic book went out of print. He didn't know it would still be in print twenty years later.

Jack Ruttan @ 182: Oooh. That's a gotcha. You'd think the creators or their agent would be smarter than that.

A well-known skiffy artist told me he had the same contract with the publisher of his art book. The publisher has steadfastly refused to admit the book is out of print, to the point the artist was suggesting everyone he knows order the book and report back to him if told it was unavailable.

#190 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 01:12 PM:

I'm checking back too much. This is addictive.

A sporting artist (that's usually pictures of horses) I heard about got two offers from companies to make prints of his work. The American contract was terrible, the British one was a dream. I guess they can put in anything they want to, if you sign it.

#191 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 01:41 PM:

My favorite read-the-fine-print story comes from David Morrell, the author of First Blood. He originally wrote the novel partly to fulfill a Master's thesis requirement*, then submitted it to somewhere-or-other for publication.

To his surprise and glee, the book sold. Wanting to do the smart thing, he paid an attorney ~$200 to look over the contract the publisher had offered him. The attorney reported back that the contract was basically fine, but suggested that he put in a clause that enabled him to keep some portion of any ancillary merchandise rights.

Morrell was irked. He wasn't any richer than you'd expect an MFA grad to be, so $200 was not an inconsequential sum. Not unreasonably, he didn't expect to see a whole lot of bidding for the merchandising rights of his graduate thesis and considered the attorney's fee wasted money. The kicker, of course, was that by the time he got around to writing the anecdote down he was doing so from a beachfront palace in Malibu paid for with the royalties from wee plastic Rambo toys, T-shirts, mudflaps and similar whatnots.

I expect there's a moral in there somewhere.

*Mildly amusing trivia: John Rambo is a namesake of the poet Rimbaud.

#192 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Faren #183:

And based on your earlier review of the Parker, which I happened to be reading the other day (issues w/Forthcoming Books get recycled to the smallest room) I went and got a copy this morning. It's rather ... thick, particularly for the price.

#193 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 08:14 PM:

Jack @182:
They were young & naive.

Apropos of the creep factor of "I'm your Biggest Fan", Moore left DC vowing never to work for them again, and later wrote "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" to be published by Wildstorm comics. DC's response was to buy Wildstorm. What's the word for when you're being stalked by a company?

#194 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 08:44 PM:

#178:

V doesn't go out of his way to risk innocent lives anywhere in the story, until Evey.

See #175. I think it's a major mistake to apply absolutist morality to VfV. V risks not-all-that-guilty lives.

Hell, who might have been walking along the street near the Old Bailey? Nobody legally (curfews and all), but Evey might not have been the only person illegally out and about. High explosives are notoriously not precision weapons, and falling bits of building even less so. We don't *know* that anyone was killed that way (let alone anyone "innocent", whatever the heck that means when applied to humans); but we -- and V -- also don't know they weren't.

I'f znpuvangvbaf nyfb yrnq gb gur qrngu bs n puvyq, VVEP. Rira vs lbh'er qvivqvat crbcyr hc vagb "vaabprag" naq abg, V guvax gur xvq cebonoyl dhnyvsvrf. Gung fcrpvsvp vapvqrag zvtug abg or cerqvpgnoyr rira gb I, ohg gur trareny cnggrea jbhyq or, vapyhqvat gur snpg gung vg jbhyq vapyhqr enaqbz ivbyrapr, fbzr cneg bs juvpu jbhyq uvg gur vaabprag (vs lbh qrsvar gung nf nal fvtavsvpnagyl abarzcgl frg).

Regardless of your opinion of the Sutler government, several of V's acts were *genuine* terrorism. That's one of the questions VfV raises: can terrorism be justified by the need to act against a greater evil? It's not a question that can usefully be resolved by discussing which people are "innocent" and which aren't. V is, in a sense, the instrument of poetic justice: Sutler creates the monster who eventually destroys him. But the actual working-out of that pattern isn't pretty. (See also the rot13'd part of #173).


The fact that V was behind the torture says more about V than it says about the torture, IMO. Whether he intended to kill her or not, he certainly did intend to torture her and *threaten* to kill her. The fact that the threat might have been empty doesn't do much to change what it reveals about the threatener. I certainly didn't say "Oh, well, then she might as well have been on vacation. That wasn't real torture at all."

P.S. We see almost exactly a year of V's plans in action: from one Guy Fawkes' Day to the next.

#195 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Adrian@111: If you hadn't already made up your mind to twenty decimal places, I mean.

me@somewhere: I've already gone through my own clinic

Adrian@180: You've been tortured?

Mr. Smith, please see Mr. Royston's request @139 to not make the thread about me. It upsets him very much and I am trying to do my best to comply.

I'll decline answering your question to minimize further focus on me, rather than V or whatever. However, I will point out that the definition of "clinic" is in the very same post you quoted, demarcated by double-quotes even, and you somehow managed to twist it around into what someone looking for alterior motives might consider a strawman. Who has their mind made up to twenty places?

I'll leave you to ponder whether the problem is that I'm not going to answer your question, or whether your question was ever valid.

#196 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:02 PM:

I did see that you said "I did not feel any shamanic ordeal, or any rebuilding, because I've already gone through my own."

But I didn't know what you meant by that, so I asked.

I'll leave you to ponder whether the problem is that I'm not going to answer your question, or whether your question was ever valid.

Now you're just sounding petulant.

#197 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:19 PM:

right back at you, mister "to twenty decimal places"

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Dave@186: I don't think you understand what context means.

The only question that remained was why V tortured Evey. Someone had suggested that V was testing Evey, and if she had betrayed him, V would have killed her. Both the book and movie make it clear in the torture scene that this was not the case. V was putting Evey through a shamanic ordeal to transform her.

So, V took the risk of torturing Evey for months on the chance that it would produce the same effect in her that it produced in him, risking killing her through malnutrition, her being driven to suicide, a botched escape attempt, or some medical complication that might have come from the torture he subjugated her to.

Now, there is no context that I can think of that justifies this.

The only thing that "justifies" his torture is the fact that she didn't die, she wasn't shown to be permanently maimed, and she was in fact shown to have come out a better person.

Which is nothing more than saying the ends justify the means.

There is no context that can justify torture. Not a ticking bomb. Not a character who gained superpowers through torture. Nothing. There is no context that makes it OK. It is a morally repugnant act that is indefensible.

The problem is the naration of the story up to that point manages to avoid showing us that V is so morally repugnant, until about three quarters of the way into the story, when we find out he had been torturing Evey all along.

Sure, folks can say that maybe some innocent people were killed in one of V's explosions, but the story follows V for an entire year, and not once are we the viewers/readers shown the actual cost of innocent deaths directly caused by V's actions.

This is called "distancing". It is a standard tool used in war porn to allow the character to commit violent acts, but to distance the reader from the negative effects so that the reader maintains sympathy for the character.

And given that it is a comic book, super hero, type story, it isn't unheard of to have a story take place in a universe where the heroes always manage to avoid causing collateral damage. And it would not be unreasonable to watch the first three-quarters of V for Vendetta, note that we never see V harm an innocent civilian, and assume that it's that sort of story.

And then when we find out he's the one torturing Evey, the only explanation is that V's true nature was not shown to us to maintain our sympathies, and that he is far more evil than shown in the first part of the story.

And my experience of the movie, at the moment it is revealed that V was the one doing the torture was a repugnance towards V that should have been present from teh beginning had the storytelling done its job of showign us what sort of cahracter V really is.

If the story is going to have V torture Evey, it needed to show V causing the deaths of innocent people, and it needed to let viewers lose sympathy for him if that's what they choose. You could still shock us with the fact that V tortured Evey, but do it while showign us from the beginning what sort of character V really is. Don't hide it. Don't distance us from it by getting all handwavey with the details, just to keep us sympathetic to your character.

#199 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Earlier people were mentioning Stockholm Syndrome, and I do think a case could be made for a variant -- not towards V, initially, but towards the source of the notes; and that transfers to V, later.

But overall the torture sequence in the movie strikes me as an example of something that works in dream logic but not in plot logic. It has an emotional resonance that occurs in the space between the story and the viewer, but it is not a realistic occurrence. It is, as Greg says, very much like radioactive spider or... well, one of my dear partners owns an antique from the turn of the century, an electric comb. Why you'd wish a comb to be electric? Uncertain... but presumably it's a baldness cure, courtesy of the magic of electricity.

I do not think it is war porn, though, for one reason: the 'radioactive spider' in this sentence is not the physical torture so much as the oubliette, and the notes. There's a strong resonance for lots of people in the concept of having your universe dwindle to a single dark room and a single point of light in it. Initiation. Knowing your purpose. People tell stories about things like this a lot.

The framing was problematic, but the sequence still worked for me for the dream-logic reason.

It's the same sort of thing as 'before I kill you, Mr. Bond', or 'left you for dead' sequences in various media -- it might make more sense for the villain to just ax the protagonist (hence the 'evil overlord list') and make absolutely no sense to do otherwise, but somewhere in our hindbrains we're addicted to the idea of a protagonist who is defeated at first, then wins later.

I presume this is related to how humans learn. In a combat situation, it's ridiculous, but since we spend our days learning and attempting less flubbable tasks and we tell stories in terms of combat, heroes and villains, winning and losing, something of our daily experience is transferred to the narrative.

#200 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 05:02 AM:

Richard Brandt@189: Unlike in your example, though, Watchmen and V for Vendetta have spent twenty years actually being printed, and selling, and earning money for their creators. Basically, Moore is unhappy because his creations were very successful. While few people surpass me as a fan of Moore's work, I have trouble being sympathetic there.

#201 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 07:54 AM:

right back at you, mister "to twenty decimal places"

I haven't made up my mind about anything - haven't even seen the whole film or read the whole comic, in fact (though I appreciate that hasn't stopped some people), and I'm not quite sure why you would think I had based on my sparse contributions to this thread so far. And really, if you're too up yourself to do more than vaguely allude to whatever curious set of experiences led you to your insight into Moore's (lack of) character, that's a perfectly adequate data point on its own.

#202 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Mr. Smith, a quick perusal of the view all by list of your posts shows that in ever post, you manage to make some comment about me.

And while you want to present your question about my personal history as nothing more than a request for information, the fact is, that when I point out that you redefined the term "clinic" and that I even had placed the definition in double quotes, you miss the part of the post that contained double quotes:

But, here's the other problem for me. Just pretend for a moment that I've already had my "shamanic ordeal". Just pretend that I've gone through some rather long span of time where I underwent "agony and ego-death and all kindsa mean, nasty, ugly things to emerge, transformed, from the shards of her old self". Just say.

(note the double quotes there were also in the original. I added bolding to highlight them simply because you've managed to miss them twice now)

and instead, you manage to take something from my post that was NOT in double quotes and present it in double quotes in your post at 196.

Given all of that, I believe you've shown a sufficient pattern of making every post be some dig at me that I can fairly certainly assume that your "just asking a question" is not so much curiosity, but feigned ignorance. I can think of no explanation that would reasonbly explain why you not only missed the double quotes when pointed out to you, but also manage to double quotes stuff that wasn't actually double quoted.

Now, at #201, you yet again, make another post that is all about taking digs at me. My refusal to answer you're purposefully misleading question means I'm "to up" myself, and is a "perfectly adequate data point", as if you're simply looking for data.

You've done nothing but ride my ass this entire thread. Your "view all by" shows that you manage to take some pot shot at me in every post you've made here. And now you claim you're just a neutral party requesting information and seeking "data points"?

I call bullshit.

Oh, and just so you know, "whatever curious set of experiences led you to your insight into Moore's (lack of) character", I never claimed my shamanic ordeals lead to any insight about Moore. I said that those experiences meant that watching Evey be tortured and discovering V was the torturer was NOT a shamanic ordeal for myself. There was no "agony and ego-death and all kindsa mean, nasty, ugly things to emerge, transformed" while I watched Evey get tortured and found out V was the torturer. Because I've already gone through a number of "agony and ego-death and all kindsa mean, nasty, ugly things to emerge, transformed."

And if me not revealing the mean, nasty, ugly things I've gone through is some sort of "data point" for you, then you have clearly not gone through any shamanic ordeals of your own to know how real people relate to those sort of experiences in their lives. In short, it's none of your goddamn business.

I will also point out that I never used my experiences as a way to "pull rank". I didn't say "Because I've gone through this, I can judge Moore's character". (You seriously need to look up the term "strawman" because that's like the third time you delibrately misrepresent what I said) All I said was that I've gone through a number of shamanic ordeals, and because of that, I did not experience another shamanic ordeal while watching VfV. You can choose to believe that or not. But if you seriously think that anyone watching VfV must experience a shamanic ordeal transformation, then all I can say is that not all transformation comes from reading books or watching movies. Some of us have actually been out there in the real world.

#203 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 09:28 AM:

A.J.@199, Got a picture of that electric comb?

;)

The framing was problematic, but the sequence still worked for me for the dream-logic reason.

I just want to point out the part there that says "worked for me". I may not have consistently added the words "for me" to every sentence in every post here, but I've been trying to explain how VfV was experienced for me.

And I can get that some people could watch it and get some sort of shamanic transformation out of watching it. I don't believe anyone will find anything posted by me in this thread that says they shouldn't get anything out of watching VfV. If you did, great.

But for me, it was not transforming. certain things will take me out of the trance state that comes from engaging fiction and drop me right back in the real world. Torture is one of those things.

Whether it is "war porn" or not, depends on the definition you use, I suppose. For me, it's any violence described in fiction in an unrealistic positive light. I generally allow for children's cartoons to show Peter Pan stuff where there's gun fights and sword fights and whatnot and no one gets hurt because, well, because the violence isn't the point of such stories. But violence was the point of VfV. And once characters start getting killed, (and V kills a lot of people), then the "rule" kicks in for me. And the rule is simply that the violence must be presented in a morally consistent way.

V isn't shown killing innocent people. But then V tortures an innocent woman for months. That to me is not consistent. And it wins points on the "war porn" litmus test. Does it put the movie or book into the category of war porn? For me, torture is a sufficiently charged topic that VfV qualifies as war porn.

If people got something of value out of watching it, great. I don't think I ever said that no one should get anything of value out of watching VfV. I don't think I said anything that tried to deny anyone their experience of the book or the movie. (if I did I apologize) But it didn't work for me.

#204 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Soon Lee wrote in #193: What's the word for when you're being stalked by a company?

Annoying for him, but I guess most writers would like to have that problem.

#205 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Jack Rutan (#187): ...it seems that many more people watch Buffy than read book reviews. Undeniable, but in a blog run by noted book editors it would be nice if the percentage were skewed a *little* more toward readers. Oh well.

Serge (#188): Still not speaking to you, but otherwise healthy enough.

joann (#192): It's rather ... thick, particularly for the price. Crammed full of all sorts of things, yes, sometimes alarmingly so, but for me less of a slog than a lot of books its size, and this trilogy is one of the few that stayed with me with particularly vivid characters, strong insights into the world, and a style that made some other works its size seem unreadable by comparison when I tried to get into them. That's just me, of course, but book reviews always have a personal element. (Incidentally, the boss likes it too.)

Patrick and Teresa: any comments on the dishonorable profession of reviewing? (Might make for an interesting little threadlet on its own.)

#206 ::: Serge's Computer ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 11:21 AM:

Faren @ 205... Serge (#188): Still not speaking to you, but otherwise healthy enough.

Faren's Computer is so representative of today's electronic brains. When I was its age, I kept trying to take over the world, again and again. Meanwhile, Faren's Computer is afraid of an ML thread with a high number of posts. Cyberwuss.

#207 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 11:24 AM:

and instead, you manage to take something from my post that was NOT in double quotes and present it in double quotes in your post at 196.

Seems to me to have pretty much the same meaning as the part that you've thoughtfully bolded out. "I did not feel any shamanic ordeal, or any rebuilding, because I've already gone through my own".

Are we discussing anything of substance here?

You've done nothing but ride my ass this entire thread. Your "view all by" shows that you manage to take some pot shot at me in every post you've made here.

I was just...intrigued by how categorical you were about your opinion. Nobody else had that ironclad twenty-decimal-point love going around.

I never claimed my shamanic ordeals lead to any insight about Moore.

I thought the shamanic ordeals led to your interpretation of the torture scene, which in turn led to your insight about Moore. Certainly not a one-stage process.

And if me not revealing the mean, nasty, ugly things I've gone through is some sort of "data point" for you, then you have clearly not gone through any shamanic ordeals of your own to know how real people relate to those sort of experiences in their lives.

Oh, you're making me feel left out now. With an awkward mixture of pride and coyness?

But if you seriously think that anyone watching VfV must experience a shamanic ordeal transformation

It had never occurred to me that watching a film could induce a shamanic ordeal transformation in anyone, unless they were suspended (consentingly, of course) by fishhooks through their nipples all the way to the end of the closing credits. It's about whether torture could be plausible as a route to such a transformation. Clearly, not for you.

I think I may have been interpreting what I saw as your digs at Moore as implying that anyone who didn't see the scene your way was up to their elbows in the same moral "underdevelopment" as Moore himself.

Sorry for riding your ass, anyway.

#208 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Faren,

In my arts journalism, I often had to review stuff that wasn't my cup of tea. So I'd focus on whether this lesbian erotica, let's say, really worked as lesbian erotica.

But mainly, I would edge away from giving a thumbs-up or down evaluation, and try to say interesting things about what the book was doing.

The nicest thing anyone said about my work was that they always learned something new when they read me.

I never found out whether authors were thrilled about a non-specialist reviewing their book, but think they were grateful for the attention, and having a clipping to paste in their their dossiers. As long as it didn't say terribly nasty things.

It really depends on your venue. If you're reviewing in your blog, you can write about what you want to, and the audience that checks in is interested, and probably has a background in the subject.

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Faren... Jack Ruttan... Now I'm feeling guilty, even though people are more likely to have seen the same episode of of a TV show than they'd have read the same book there is way more written SF to choose from than there is of the other kind.

#210 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Faren Miller @#183 - I don't know if K J Parker is a madman or a genius, but he writes tragedy like no one else. Having read 2 of his trilogies and 2 books of the Engineer trilogy I look forward to the third with both great excitement and trepidation - I know it's going to end badly, but how badly?

#211 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 12:25 PM:

I think written SF needs a big hit to give it a kick-start, the way Harry Potter did with fantasy. Of course, this has its good and bad aspects.

At the time, I hoped that Star Wars (oh well, here we are again) would usher in an era of thoughtful, inventive SF movies. Instead, we got space dogfights, villains in masks, and boopy robots. But I think that HP is getting people reading (and buying) more fantasy books, making the market more open. Anyone agree?

I devoured a lot of SF in my youth, up to university, where I branched off into other literature, and never really came back. The last books that got me kind of excited about SF were "Neuromancer" and "Snow Crash."

I still read once in a while, but SF has slipped for me. I don't find it as relevant as it might have been in an earlier, more optimistic time. Still, I'm hoping!

Meanwhile, computer graphic advances are making SF more accessible to film and TV creators. They can tell more, and maybe subtler stories there without betting the farm.

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 211... SF has slipped for me. I don't find it as relevant as it might have been in an earlier, more optimistic time.

I don't remember the 1970s or the 1980s as being particularly optimistic, and that didn't prevent the SF of the era from being relevant.

#213 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Jack Rutan @ 182

I seem to remember Charlie Stross mentioning that he and several writers of his acquaintance (John Scalzi, maybe?) had negotiated a deal where they could put their work in Creative Commons when they were out of print. They have the same problem, though, some of the work just won't go out of print. And some publishers try to make it look like it's still in print, even when it's not, though if it isn't available and thus can't be sold, I'm damned* if I see what that buys them.

* Actually, I think they're damned. If I have any religion at all, it revolves around the sacredness of books.

#214 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Soon Lee @ 193

What's the word for when you're being stalked by a company?

Free market capitalism

#215 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 190: A sporting artist (that's usually pictures of horses) I heard about got two offers from companies to make prints of his work. The American contract was terrible, the British one was a dream. I guess they can put in anything they want to, if you sign it.

Tom Petty says he was shocked (shocked, I tell you) to realize that when he'd signed away his publishing rights to Universal, it meant he no longer owned the copyright to his songs. He thought it just meant, like, sheet music sales and stuff.

And of course, the head of Stax records managed to sign a distribution deal with Atlantic without realizing that Atlantic would own all the recordings. When he woke up one day and realized he owned a record company with no back catalogue, he ordered his staff to cut two dozen LPs in a hurry.

#216 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Smith@207: Are we discussing anything of substance here?

Only the strawmenn that you bring up, baby, only the strawman that you bring up.

I think I may have been interpreting what I saw as your digs at Moore as implying that anyone who didn't see the scene your way was up to their elbows in the same moral "underdevelopment" as Moore himself.

If you can find one quote by me that actually says that, I'll publicly apologize to all on this thread for making such a statement.

Note, this requires a quote by me, not your interpretation of a quote by me. Because, as we all know, you're have thus far taken quite a creative license with interpreting my statements into men made of straw.

I await your continued spin, subsequent red herrings, and further comments on par with twenty decimal places. Because I doubt you'll give a straitht answer like "I was wrong".

#217 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Greg @198:

And given that it is a comic book, super hero, type story, it isn't unheard of to have a story take place in a universe where the heroes always manage to avoid causing collateral damage. And it would not be unreasonable to watch the first three-quarters of V for Vendetta, note that we never see V harm an innocent civilian, and assume that it's that sort of story.

And then when we find out he's the one torturing Evey, the only explanation is that V's true nature was not shown to us to maintain our sympathies, and that he is far more evil than shown in the first part of the story.

I think Alan Moore -- no, I'm sure that Moore aspires to more than just following standard comicbookisms. V is a flawed character, he might even be a villain, only prevented from being that because the State in VfV is more monstrous. That is why he dies at the end of the story, because he is a madman, intent on revenge. He gets what he wanted, but as in many a revenger's tragedy, the getting of it also kills him.

Perhaps the transformation that Moore wants the reader to experience while reading the story is actually similar to the one you experienced. The protagonist in the mind of the reader moving from dashing hero to a more ambiguous state, balanced between dark and light. For you, with your experience of shamanic ordeals and the years since publication of VfV putting the issue of torture into sharp relief, V is quite clearly a villain, undeserving of his place in the spotlight at the centre of the story. For myself and others, reading the story fifteen or twenty years ago, younger, more naive, living in a world where torture was less... real than it is these days, it was easy to see V as a hero, albeit a flawed one.

Yes, torture is wrong, was wrong, and will always be wrong. If V is a torturer, then that makes him a villain. But he's doing it for good reasons, isn't he? Doesn't that make him a good guy? Well, thanks to Sith Lord Cheney, we're more sure about the answer to that today. The torture in VfV produced a good result, transforming Evey, putting her in the position to help transform the anarchy following the fall of the State into something better, in a way that V himself would not have been able to do. I can see that he felt justified in doing it. And, if the transformation hadn't worked, I'm sure he would have felt justified in doing it again to another rescued victim of the state.

You're right, V is a monster. And what he does to Evey is just like Jack Bauer torturing suspects who the script-writer knows aren't innocent. Or a real Abu Ghraib torturer and his prisoner. Yes.

Your criticism raises my respect for Moore as a writer, and lowers it for the movie, neither of which I thought possible.

#218 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 06:27 PM:

#212 ::: Serge wrote:
I don't remember the 1970s or the 1980s as being particularly optimistic, and that didn't prevent the SF of the era from being relevant.

There was lots of dismaying stuff, but I was thinking of the space program and the fall of Communism. Watched some TV science shows which told me the 21st Century would be the "era of leisure," maybe with robots doing our work, and people flying on Pam-Am spaceships to bases on the moon.

So, is SF today better than ever?

#219 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 06:28 PM:

NelC: Perhaps the transformation that Moore wants the reader to experience while reading the story is actually similar to the one you experienced.

Yeah, I considered that maybe his "gotcha" was to realize V was far more evil than we assume at the beginning. Sort of like a "Sixth Sense" story. Or, more like a "Jar of Tang" story.

The thing is my revulsion towards V after it's revealed that he was the torturer is a minority reaction. If Moore wanted to create my reaction, that's not how it landed on most people, considering the reaction I see here.

You're right, V is a monster.

I just think that information should have been shown to us earlier.

We start out in Silence of the Lambs knowing Hanibal Lecter is a serial killer. And it's still a compelling story to watch. Not because we sympathize with him, but because Clairice is undergoing a compelling story.

I'm trying to picture Silence of the Lambs with the narrative downplaying and distancing you from the deaths that Hannibal Lecter caused, getting you to sympathize with him, and then showing the eviscerated body of the police officer he kills. And tryign to imagine the idea being to fool you into sympathizing with him, and then showing you what a monster he is.

And I just can't see it being that good of a story.

Your criticism raises my respect for Moore as a writer, and lowers it for the movie

Something useful came out of all this afterall. Hooray!

#220 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 07:02 PM:

Jack Ruttan @ 218... Watched some TV science shows which told me the 21st Century would be the "era of leisure," maybe with robots doing our work, and people flying on Pam-Am spaceships to bases on the moon.

Those were the last gasps of optimism. I grew up in that era thinking that the future would be like Soylent Green, where people were stacked up on top of each other and reduced to eating each other. If we were lucky, the future would be like Silent Running, where they had robots and spaceships, but the latter were used to house the remnants of Earth's last forests.

So, is SF today better than ever?

Yes. Sure, it has its share of dreck, but every genre in every era has had its share of dreck. And space opera is better than ever. George Lucas and the original Star Wars can be thanked for that. It may not have brought many new SF readers, but I think it had SF writers (probably CJ Cherryh among the pioneers) say to themselves "This was fun! This was grand epic stuff! And I liked it, and I'm going to bring all of that back in space opera." At least, I think that's what happened.

#221 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Greg London @219:
I just think that information should have been shown to us earlier.

For me, it was the sickening realisation that V was as bad as the people he was trying to destroy, that packed a huge punch. There were no 'good guys' in the story. It was manipulative(*) on Moore's part but effective.

(*): Of course, writers are not manipulative people at all.

#222 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 08:46 PM:

A. J. Luxton @ 199

There are fundamentally differences between life and narrative, not matter how much we try to shoehorn life into the narratives we all tell about ourselves and the world around us. And dramatic truth is narrative truth writ large and bold across the sky for all to see.

So it's no surprise that the shape we want events to take is not what we see, but what we do with what we see. And we want there to be heroes and villains, all larger than life. The stories we tell, even more the stories our greatest storytellers tell, have shape and resonance far beyond the literal meaning of the words used to tell them, and beyond even the events and characters they describe. The fact that we have a different word for people in a story, "characters", says volumes about the differences between story and life. And that means that the same rules can't be used to judge them.

#223 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Greg #219, I think that, however it happened, you and I ended up at more or less the same perspective. Only difference seems to be the "unreliable narrator" trick doesn't bug me as much as it seems to bug you - of course, I must admit that I didn't actually *like* V For Vendetta all that much, when all was said and done. It was interesting, and worth both watching and reading, but I have no particular desire to do either again.

#224 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2007, 09:52 AM:

I await your continued spin, subsequent red herrings, and further comments on par with twenty decimal places. Because I doubt you'll give a straitht answer like "I was wrong".

I think I may have been mistakenly interpreting what I saw as your digs at Moore as implying that anyone who didn't see the scene your way was up to their elbows in the same moral "underdevelopment" as Moore himself.

I thought that was obvious from the tone, but no. Straight enough for you?

#225 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Adrian: I think I may have been mistakenly interpreting what I saw as ... implying that anyone who didn't see the scene your way was up to their elbows in the same moral "underdevelopment" as Moore himself.

I thought that was obvious from the tone, but no.


short Adrian: "I made a mistake, and it's Greg's fault. His tone made me do it."

My tone from the beginning was that I did not like V for Vendetta because of the torture scene. I focused strictly on the events that occurred in the story, and expanded it slightly to try and understand what Moore was trying to achieve with those scenes (Was he distancing us from V's violence so we'd remain sympathetic to V? Or was it some sort of "Sixth Sense" story? or what?), and not once did I say, or even imply, any such nonsense as you managed to squeeze out of it.

And from the get go, you're on my case. Every post by you in this thread is nothing but you taking pot shots at me. Nothing about the story, the characters, the plot. Just digs at me.

Every. Single. Post.

And how could my tone imply that anyone who likes War Porn or V For Vendetta is morally bankrupt when I said in an earlier post (#109) that the movie "Predator" is war porn, and I liked that movie?

How is it my fault that you ignored what I actually typed, and substituted whatever interpretation you made up in your head?

#226 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Neil Willcox (#210): It's certainly not obvious from the "Engineer" books, but K.J. Parker is female (says so in an author interview in the US editions, and CNB at Locus confirms it).

As for discussion of reviewing, today's SFGate has an interesting piece on a new nf book by reviewer Michael Dirda. You can see it here.

#227 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Greg @ 225: And how could my tone imply that anyone who likes War Porn or V For Vendetta is morally bankrupt when I said in an earlier post (#109) that the movie "Predator" is war porn, and I liked that movie?

Predator is self-consciously tongue-in-cheek about its war porn aspects; at least the director has stated he intends it to be a bit ridiculous when all these macho guys blast their ginormous guns into the forest for five minutes without managing to kill anything.

#228 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2007, 11:34 PM:

Richard@227: Predator is self-consciously tongue-in-cheek about its war porn aspects

So what. The point is I said that war porn is a category, a description of a style, not a qualitative label. I said there are war porn stories that I like. I gave an example of one, just because I didn't want to run off the laundry list. (And no, I'm not going to list them all until you or someone else deems that I've listed one that they find acceptably non tongue in cheek.) Mr. Smith ignores all those statements and decides that his interpretation of my tone is implying something else. And when pushed on it, he comes back with a "I'm sorry you mislead me" or a "mistakes were made" style of "apology".

Whatever.

#229 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 12:24 AM:

I thought that was obvious from the tone, but no.

short Adrian: "I made a mistake, and it's Greg's fault. His tone made me do it."

No, *my* tone, not yours. Why would my meaning be obvious from your tone? I'm trying to say that *I've* been misinterpreting *your* tone, and it's my fault. But then I thought it was obvious when I said "Sorry for riding your ass, anyway" that I was trying to back off and apologise. Must have been flagged as sarcasm/insincere/a red herring, I dunno.

Every. Single. Post.

You see, for *me*, #207 was different. It didn't have the full-on I-was-wrong surrender grovel you appeared to be hoping for, but I thought it was an attempt at being mollifying.

Could anyone else who's bothered to read this far have a look and tell me if it's just me? I like this place, don't want to wear out my welcome by riding the innocent asses of valued contributors nd nd p wth n vwls.

And how could my tone imply that anyone who likes War Porn or V For Vendetta is morally bankrupt when I said in an earlier post (#109) that the movie "Predator" is war porn, and I liked that movie?

You did see the "mistakenly" there, right? I'll try and provide an autopsy of my thought processes if I can find the time, but it'll mean going over the thread in some detail, and it might be a little stale by then.

I thought it'd been established that there were subcategories of Good (tongue-in-cheek?) War Porn and Bad (sincere?) War Porn. I'm not really on board for the whole War Porn thing, it's one of those conflations that looks to conceal as much as it reveals. Though it's not as bad as Islamofascism.

#230 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:19 AM:

the thing is, greg, you seemed to have wanted it both ways, in this argument.

it's either "you know, i just couldn't get into this story because v was too evil/torture seemed to have a positive outcome, & i personally can't enjoy watching that," or "torture in v for vendetta is just like torture on 24, it teaches people that torture is ok. this will make our troops more eager to torture & our populace more hungry for it."

it seemed to me, & i'm not gonna dig up quotes for this so you'll just have to believe i read this whole thread without personal bias against you*, that you were arguing the latter as if lives depended on it, & then whenever too many people jumped on you, you stated that the former is what you meant all along.

maybe you did. but it seemed like if all you were trying to state was a personal preference, you wouldn't do it over & over, louder & louder, for a hundred posts.

*bias in favour of alan moore, yes, because he's one of my favourite writers. though v was not my favourite book of his & i only read it once, after i'd seen the movie.

#231 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Andrew Smith @229:
I haven't followed the discussion in detail - it has all the warning signs of an emotional black hole to me. But I wanted to say something to this comment.

I like this place, don't want to wear out my welcome by riding the innocent asses of valued contributors nd nd p wth n vwls.

Note that you have shed only the vowels that you yourself removed. You're not, I suspect, in danger. But if you'd like to feel extra-safe and secure, why not comment in a few more threads? Tell us which mayo you like in the Not-Tuna thread, or talk a little bit about war and loss in Remembering the Great War, or sling a bit of poetry* into an Open Thread.

----
* Do you write poetry? We like new poets.

#232 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:52 AM:

miriam beetle writes: but it seemed like if all you were trying to state was a personal preference, you wouldn't do it over & over, louder & louder, for a hundred posts.

miriam, meet Greg.

#233 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:25 AM:

Lee at #179:"I'd like to point out that Greg is not the only person at fault here. There are a couple of other people, most notably Bryan, who appear to be absolutely determined to beat him over the head until he admits that he's wrong. "

well I guess I was wrong, now that the whole unpleasant episode is over I would just like to point out that I feel absolutely awful. I should definitely have bowed out earlier. yep. that was a good point there. I have behaved like a cad, a rotter, an absolute beast with the most abominable manners in all Christendom. Huzzah!

however if it wouldn't be too impetuous of me I would just like to say that my feeling was an awful lot like the feeling that Miriam Beetle at #230 had.

#234 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:46 AM:

A couple of days ago, when this thread started going into the I-didn't-say-what-you-say-I-said-and-here's-what-I-did-say, I thought I should have suggested a time-out, a taking of a deep breath. Would that have been a welcome attempt at moderation?

#235 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:29 AM:

Greg @ : I don't know, I think that portraying a character sympathetically at first and then revealing their villainy is an established story-telling trope, and insisting that all villains should be sign-posted as such from the start is unnecessarily limiting. Stories can reflect life in this way: sometimes you don't know who the villain is (or even if there is one). Sometimes you have to decide for yourself instead of having it laid out for you, and it's the making of that decision that is the process that the author wants the reader to go through.

I don't know if Moore was consciously mirroring the style of revenger's tragedies in his plotting of VfV, but there is a similar process going on in some of those. The protagonist has a legitimate grievance but has been poorly served by society's justice, so the audience is initially sympathetic. But as the drama unfolds, the protagonist going further and further in their quest for true justice, there comes a point where they lose the sympathy of the audience, the point where the audience thinks it's too much. And at that point the character is doomed to die so that the moral equation in the story can be balanced.

Have you never enjoyed a story in which the protagonist is portrayed unsympathetically at first, but then becomes a hero through some transformative act of redemption? If so, then why not the opposite case?

About Hannibal Lector, I'm not sure that he's a good example for you. Lector started out as an incidental character in Red Dragon, and may have started out as one when Silence of the Lambs first started to emerge from the typewriter; he began as a monster. But the author and the audience had a perverse liking for him, even a sympathy, and let's face it, if you start as a monster there's nowhere for your character to develop, except towards the light. From the ending of Hannibal (the novel), I think we're intended to believe that Lector has exorcised his demons and is redeemed in some fashion. Though, personally, I felt the ending of the movie was slightly more believable, if less interesting. But even in the movie, Lector is allowed to survive, having done his duty to the author by exposing corruption in the FBI, and removing it.

#236 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Greg @228: I think your insistence on calling it war porn is what's rubbing people the wrong way. It looks derogatory, and people hate to be derogated for what they enjoy. It doesn't matter if you've derogated yourself at the same time.

#237 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Well actually part of the war porn thing that was bugging me had to do with the fact that it is not what I would consider war porn. Basically my definition of war porn, and the one I thought that was common, has to do with glorification of military violence. And while he could argue that it glorified violence it did not glorify military violence as far as I could see (I don't even think V ever said anything like I'm fighting a war Evey or anything quite so laughable.)


But that was of course not the main thing that bugged me, and anyway it could be I was wrong, so I let it slide.

#238 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Do you write poetry? We like new poets.

I like it - I think I found ML via a link to something Mike Ford had written. As for writing it...sometimes my fingers twitch when I look at the sonnets, but I reckon I'd be better off floating my maiden efforts into a somewhat shallower pool.

#239 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:32 AM:

miriam@230, it seemed like if all you were trying to state was a personal preference, you wouldn't do it over & over, louder & louder, for a hundred posts.

Hm, well, a great deal of those posts were me saying in various ways to people "no, I did not actually say that". For example, in your same post at 230, you extract the following and attribute it to me:

"torture in v for vendetta is just like torture on 24, it teaches people that torture is ok. this will make our troops more eager to torture & our populace more hungry for it."

Although I did compare VfV to 24 in some fashion, I believe everything else in that sentence is fabricated by you. Certainly it may very well have seemed to you that I was indeed saying that, but I didn't actually say that. And pointing that out gets me dinged for posting over and over, louder and louder?

Now, while were talking about what it seems to everyone, what it seems to me, is, that I posted that I didn't like VfV, and it seems to me that people who really, really liked VfV couldn't let it be. It may very well be that those people heard in my "tone" that I was saying all sorts of nasty things about VfV. But the thing is that there was a repeating pattern here by many, many people here who all attacked me for different things that I didn't actually say.

Somehow bryan@105 thought I said VfV was a "Mary Sue". Mr. Smith couldn't quite get a handle on what I meant by the word "clinic". You accuse me of saying that "V For Vendetta encourages our troops to torture".

When I said I thought Moore had an infatuation for violence, you pipe up at 138. Jack@140 actually provides evidence that supports my supposition. When I try to define what I mean by "war porn" at 137, you reply at 138 that you don't care, "i don't care about your litmus test for war porn. i'm not going to jump through that hoop."

Well, that's a bit of a connundrum, isn't it? I'm talking about why I think VfV is war pr0n, and you don't care about the definition?

Might your lack of interest in what I'm actually saying, what meaning I'm intending when I say something, have anything to to with your post at #230, where you reveal that Moore is in fact one of your favorite writers?

I would not be surprised at all if bryan, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Brandt all thoroughly enjoyed VfV or if they found it to be one of their favorite movies. It would certainly fit the pattern. I say I didn't like something about V For Vendetta, and numerous people dogpile me for things I didn't actually say. I keep trying to point out that I didn't say this or that, and then I'm accused of making the thread all about me, of being a troll, or that if I was just stating an opinion, I wouldn't do it over and over, louder and louder.

Except the thing I keep saying louder and louder is "I DIDN"T SAY THAT" to people I can only guess found V For Vendetta one of their favorite movies, and who took my criticism and turned it into something far more damning than it actually was.

#240 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:46 AM:

NelC@135: insisting that all villains should be sign-posted as such from the start is unnecessarily limiting

I wouldn't call it "signposting" though. If a character is truly evil, but the narrator chooses to skip over various events that would show this, then it's the author's choosing to hide this information from the reader.

If this is done by the author so as to pull a "gotcha" on the reader, it's a "jar of tang" story. The author is making the point of the story the "gotcha", rather than the evolution of the characters.

I'm not saying authors have to show us who the character is. But I don't' have to like it when they hide stuff from me on purpose.

I liked "Sixth Sense" because the fact that Bruce was a ghost was hidden from us, but it didn't bother me because the main story arc was about the kid's evolution. And it would have been a good story wheterh bruce was a ghost or a real person. It's just that once you got to the end of Sixth Sense, and saw the kid have a satisfying end to his story, the added information that Bruce was a ghost was sort of like an icing on the cake.

If the kids story had been flat, and the only interesting point of "Sixth Sense" was that Bruce was a ghost, then I would have found that immensely lame.

#241 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:54 AM:

NelC@236: I think your insistence on calling it war porn is what's rubbing people the wrong way.

That could be. I use it to describe fiction that portrays violence in an unrealistic positive light. No, it doesn't have to be "war". But it can be any sort of violence. Although, in this case, V is leading a revolution, so the movie is in some respects involving a war.

I don't know if there is any term that some people would like to hear critical of their favorite work. The term "Mary Sue" is a neutral choice of words, though the definition may be something that some people will be angered to have applied to their favorite story.

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Greg... You're doing it again.

#243 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:48 AM:

It's certainly not obvious from the "Engineer" books, but K.J. Parker is female (says so in an author interview in the US editions, and CNB at Locus confirms it).

Hmm. I thought that someone (probably a random stranger on the internet) had told me K J Parker was male, otherwise I would have written more gender neutral. That's interesting; I don't know that it changes my view of her books, but I might think again about the hows and whys of the way they were written. More things to re-read.

#244 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Bryan, #233: At the time I posted that, you were the most notable person engaging in that behavior. You were eclipsed later by Adrian Smith, but that doesn't change what I said.

It takes two to tango. If Greg was behaving badly, then so were you, and Smith, and the other people who were pounding on Greg.

#245 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Greg, if you feel that all you've been saying is, "I didn't say that", then that's probably a sign to stop saying that.

Be that as it may, while "Mary-Sue character" may be a combination of neutral words, in combination they're decidedly not neutral. An insult, in fact. If you feel that "war porn" is a neutral set of words either individually or in combination, then you really need to stop shouting, "I didn't say that", re-tune your conceptual filters, and listen to what people are saying to you.

#246 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Greg @ 240: I liked "Sixth Sense" because the fact that Bruce was a ghost was hidden from us, but it didn't bother me because the main story arc was about the kid's evolution. And it would have been a good story wheterh bruce was a ghost or a real person. It's just that once you got to the end of Sixth Sense, and saw the kid have a satisfying end to his story, the added information that Bruce was a ghost was sort of like an icing on the cake.

It's important that the author play fair, too. All the necessary evidence is right there in front of you the whole time.

There's a whole 'nother story buried in one line from that movie, where the kid goes on to become Analyst to the Dead.

#247 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Adrian Smith @238:
As for writing it...sometimes my fingers twitch when I look at the sonnets, but I reckon I'd be better off floating my maiden efforts into a somewhat shallower pool.

Well, I understand what you mean. I posted only one sonnet while Mike Ford was alive, and immediately jumped back in to say I knew it was no good and all...

But on the other hand, if you can find anyone saying anything negative about any sonnet† posted here*, I will eat my hat. I've had comments pointing out when I'm a foot short or long in a line, but that is it.

So here's what you do. Wait for a thread where lots of people are posting sonnets. Then add yours in.

Go for it. It's only words on a screen; no assassins will appear at your door for daring to do so.‡

-----
† or villanelle, pantoum, triolet, limerick, Plums pastische, haiku, ballade, yadda, yadda
* apart from self-criticism
‡ plausible deniability...check! Now who has the phone number for Ninjas R Us?

#248 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:41 AM:

Greg: While I think you are correct that V for Vendetta is flawed, and about the nature of these flaws, I question your statement that Alan Moore "has an infatuation with violence". That's a rather inflammatory generalization, one that would require a great deal of justification ranging over an author's entire body of work...while here I haven't seen any evidence that you know anything about Moore's work besides having seen the movie adaptation of one item in the corpus.

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:22 AM:

Abi @ 247... So here's what you do. Wait for a thread where lots of people are posting sonnets. Then add yours in.

You are too modest, as usual. Or did you forget the earlier observations of what happens when Abi starts posting poetry ?

#250 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Greg, "Mary Sue character" is *not* neutral. As originally coined, it does not just mean "author self-insertion character". It has a specific connotation of poorly written author wish fulfilment that nobody other than the author and possibly her close friends would want to read, and it is explicitly derogatory.

Now, as a phrase it has been picked up and used by people who failed to understand the full context, and is now used by some people to simply mean "author self-insertion character" without the additional emotional baggage of "and a badly written piece of blatant wish fulfilment". But that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of us out here who still use it with its original meaning, and will read it as an insulting description.

I suspect that your usage of the term "war porn" is running into the same problem.

#251 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Well, I sat down with the DVD this morning and tallied up the war pr0n score for "V for Vendetta". It got 112 points.

I have no idea how this compares to other movies. I was planning on doing "300" next.

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