V for Vendetta mask

On the traditional Guy Fawkes Day and intriguing Million Masks March

by Arylas Thaminy

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

~English Verse from 1870

Saturday the 5th of November, exactly a month ago, was Guy Fawkes day and it traditionally commemorates the failure of Guy Fawkes to bomb the English parliament. On the other hand it actually also commemorates an idea, the idea of a revolution against governing institutions through action.

“You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” 

Medgar Evers

The beauty and the loud power of the fireworks resonated across the UK and contrasted with the peaceful and pretty much unheard of activism and protesting that was deployed across the planet through some 650 cities by the collective anonymous on this famous unforgotten day of British History.

The Fawkes story in itself is pretty intense as you may have heard, but has nothing to do with politics; it is rather a matter of religious discordance. In 1570 Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the pope. England still kept on protestant reformations initiated by Martin Luther. In consequence, Catholicism was heavily repressed. Guy Fawkes appeared to be at that time a fervent Catholic dissident, and decided with 12 other conspirators, their leader being Robert Catesby, to rise against and come to action, in a meticulously planned way. They spent months preparing what should have resulted in the explosion of the English parliament, and eventually kill the King James I in the middle of its very elaborated opening ceremony occurring in the House of the Lords, with the appearance of the Monarch and a speech of him. But unfortunately for Catesby plans, and luckily for the sake of the royal family and the British Lords, Guy Fawkes the 10-year experienced military strategist who fought for the Southern Netherlands to stop the revolution, was, discovered inside the basement during the night of the 4th of November around midnight, guarding and lurking around 36 barrels of powder. The plot had indeed been leaked by an anonymous letter by a catholic fellow to the Lord of Monteagle William Parker that he feared would be blown up.

As a result of this failure, 8 of the conspirators were caught and judged including Guy Fawkes (aka Guido Fawkes). The others had no other choice than to run away once they learnt about the plot discovery, if not shot before like the head of the treason Catesby. They were otherwise all sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, a punishment used against high treason such as this terrible Gunpowder Plot. After Londoners lit up bonfires all over the streets to celebrates the arrest, the customs have stayed until this very day, and has been a few months after the original event been introduced as a thanksgiving day by the British parliament.

This dramatic episode of the English history is heavily mentioned in the brilliant movie V for Vendetta inspired by the novel of David Lloyd in 1989, where a Vigilante draw his inspiration from Guy Fawkes to rise against government corruption and mass control through media. Obviously, it is not the man himself that “V” advocates but rather his idea of acting against what we think has to be fought, and he seems to do it brilliantly to say the least. Not to spoil the end of the enlightening story which pretty much reflects today’s situation, let’s already say that it has had a huge influence on the Internet born activist group Anonymous; the most noticeable aspect being the white cheeky fine moustached and malicious looking designed anonymous mask which became one of the collective most used logo to identify themselves as a one.

Furthermore, and ultimately, the 5th of November has also became a global protest against pretty much every possible discontent that “Anonymous people” feel against their governing entities. The manifestation which goes on under the name of the million mask march is of course pretty much uncovered by the media if not at all which goes pretty well in accordance with the movie plot. The reason of its censorship even if it occurs across the globe and gathers many fold nations, remains a mystery which we are not going to solve and jump to the conclusion. The anonymous “million mask march” demonstrate not only the power of a population and the need to denounce what is wrong with the world in order to make claims for change, but also the inspiration that can spring from beloved arts such as Cinema, Literature and more broadly sub-culture, and gives an interesting counter-culture aspect of the repeatedly celebrated Guy Fawkes Day since the first MMM in 2013.

*Lights up bonfire* / *Put on Anonymous mask*

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