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Alan Moore's Masks: A Face to Face
January 13, 2012 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Alan Moore and David Lloyd designed it 30 years ago. The V for Vendetta mask appropriated by Occupy protesters the world over. The Guardian recently asked Alan what he thought about the masks. Now Channel 4 news takes him into Occupy territory to face that face. But who is the true anarchist?
posted by 0bvious (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Missed this link on David Lloyd's opinion...
posted by 0bvious at 8:23 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice graphics -- putting video of Moore into garish four colour and pasting it into Watchmen.

"Who is the true anarchist?" Mikhail Bakunin. Many purported anarchists have as much to do with anarchism as internet libertarians have to do with libertarianism. Anarchists? More like nihilists, man. They don't believe in nothing.

"Alan Moore is too genuinely friendly..." Channel 4 News just lost all credibility.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:40 AM on January 13, 2012


Very interesting, thank you. Alan Moore gives very good interviews - his point of view is often strange, but usually witty and humane and insightful. I'm not sure that the Channel 4 segment entirely does him justice - I think he would be very good on something like Newsnight's REVIEW, where he could talk for longer in a context where a nuanced or complex response would have room to breathe.

Like China Mieville or Stephen Fry, he seems to be one of those multi-talented intellectuals who happens to write fiction but also does all sorts of other things as well. Quite inspiring, really!
posted by lucien_reeve at 8:45 AM on January 13, 2012


When that one protestor mentioned being inspired by V For Vendetta the movie, I felt sure Alan Moore's head was going to pop off or something, but he handled it with a aplomb.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:49 AM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, do indeed read the graphic novel, the movie doesn't do it justice.

Question, was the mask really designed by David Lloyd and Alan Moore? I thought it was just Lloyd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 AM on January 13, 2012


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow, there's been this concerted effort to forget that anarchism is actually a political philosophy and not just a word to mean whatever the hell we want it to.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:59 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The mask was used in the Anonymous Scientology protests, too. There it was very necessary to keep anonymity due to the Scientology's tendency to track down people.
posted by narcoleptic at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's another recent Alan Moore interview by a personal friend...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:15 AM on January 13, 2012


Question, was the mask really designed by David Lloyd and Alan Moore? I thought it was just Lloyd.

Moore's been careful to give Lloyd sole credit for both the design and the idea of the mask in other interviews. I dare say he made the same point to Channel 4's researchers, but they they considered this an irrelevant detail.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:16 AM on January 13, 2012


anarchism is actually a political philosophy and not just a word to mean whatever the hell we want it to.

Actually Bakunin was well known for wearing black hoodies and bandanas and pulling smash and grabs for free cell phones during popular uprisings.
posted by Hoopo at 9:23 AM on January 13, 2012


Bonus: It is always good to see Frank Miller look foolish in public, even though I love some of his work.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:01 AM on January 13, 2012


"Alan Moore is too genuinely friendly..." Channel 4 News just lost all credibility.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:40 AM on January 13 [+] [!]


eh? what do you mean? Channel 4 News's reporter was just saying (if the rest of her sentence is followed) that Moore is too nice to be openly annoyed at an Occupy/ V for Vendetta fan mentioning the movie but not the comic.
posted by Bwithh at 10:12 AM on January 13, 2012


anarchism is actually a political philosophy and not just a word to mean whatever the hell we want it to.

says somebody.

My favorite definition of "anarchist" comes from Noam Chomsky (sort of). That is, I wasn't there when he said it. But according to a friend of a friend who saw him speak a few decades ago in Toronto, when asked for his definition of "anarchist", he paused for a moment then said, "An anarchist is a good neighbor." And then he elaborated a bit. "There when you need him, invisible when you don't."

Which gets me to my #1 grievance with my local Occupiers. Much as I share the majority of their grievances and support their overall goals, they've thus far failed in the "good neighbor" category. If you're going to move into one of the local parks and claim it as your own, start by making it nicer, more beautiful ...
posted by philip-random at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


"An anarchist is a good neighbor." And then he elaborated a bit. "There when you need him, invisible when you don't."

That sounds unpleasantly self-centered. What about when my neighbor needs me?
posted by yoink at 10:44 AM on January 13, 2012


yoink, you'll be there won't you?
posted by paradise at 10:47 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stagger Lee, that effort started in the late 19th century, so no wonder it's been so effective...
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:05 AM on January 13, 2012


Alan Moore and David Lloyd designed it 30 years ago.

That's not really correct, right? Hasn't the Guy Fawkes mask been around since the first celebration of Guy Fawkes Day?
posted by lumpenprole at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2012


yoink, you'll be there won't you?

Well, as long as you're up to date on your premiums....

Oh, no, sorry...you really should have read the fine print on that one. But next time, you betcha!
posted by yoink at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2012


Hasn't the Guy Fawkes mask been around since the first celebration of Guy Fawkes Day?

The burning of an effigy of Guy Fawkes is certainly an old part of the tradition in the UK, but there was no established iconography for the face of the effigy. Masks were certainly sometimes used--but they're just more or less crude representations of a face, which might also be painted onto a sacking head or whatever.

The particular mask used by the OWS people is Lloyd's. I've never quite understood why they want to align themselves with a religious nutjob who wanted to destroy the only democratic institution in the land in order to establish a Catholic theocracy, but life is full of odd twists and turns.
posted by yoink at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2012


Actually Bakunin was well known for wearing black hoodies and bandanas and pulling smash and grabs for free cell phones during popular uprisings.

"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" -Bakunin, 1842

The smash-and-grab has a long and controversial history within anarchism.
posted by twirlip at 11:39 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never quite understood why they want to align themselves with a religious nutjob who wanted to destroy the only democratic institution in the land in order to establish a Catholic theocracy

I've heard it said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to head to Parliament with honest intentions, so perhaps they respect that?
posted by barc0001 at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're going to move into one of the local parks and claim it as your own, start by making it nicer, more beautiful ...

...so people will want them to stay and continue to perform free public beautification, instead if wanting their grievance addressed so they'll go away?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:05 PM on January 13, 2012


That sounds unpleasantly self-centered. What about when my neighbor needs me?

Be there for him/her.

If you're going to move into one of the local parks and claim it as your own, start by making it nicer, more beautiful ...

...so people will want them to stay and continue to perform free public beautification, instead if wanting their grievance addressed so they'll go away?


The point of Occupy isn't that it's going to go away if successful. It's about reclaiming that which has been taken from us, and taking responsibility for it. Isn't it?
posted by philip-random at 12:20 PM on January 13, 2012


I've heard it said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to head to Parliament with honest intentions, so perhaps they respect that?

By that logic they might as well wear Timothy McVeigh or Anders Breivik masks.
posted by yoink at 12:25 PM on January 13, 2012


By that logic they might as well wear Timothy McVeigh or Anders Breivik masks.

Not as stylish.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:57 PM on January 13, 2012


Hasn't the Guy Fawkes mask been around since the first celebration of Guy Fawkes Day?

Yup, lumpenprole, it's just ol' Guy Fawkes, but Warner Bros. still gets a little $$ cha-ching everytime someone buys a mask due to copyright, as must have been discussed somewhere here before.
posted by Shane at 1:01 PM on January 13, 2012


I've heard it said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to head to Parliament with honest intentions, so perhaps they respect that?

Well, I think it's clearly a reference to V For Vendetta in Anonymous' case.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:17 PM on January 13, 2012


Well, I think it's clearly a reference to V For Vendetta in Anonymous' case.

When are they going to start kidnapping and torturing people, for their own good? I can make a few nominations.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bwithh, I meant that Moore does not have a reputation for calm tranquility when people appropriate his work. In retrospect I was being unnecessarily snarky. There's really nothing negative I could say about these interviews, either what he said or how he said it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:31 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Who is the true anarchist?"

Brigada Flores Magón! Malatesta always seemed to have a good head (ho ho) on him too.
posted by Abiezer at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moore does not have a reputation for calm tranquility when people appropriate his work.

True. But that seems as much to with the fact that he is honest and self-deprecating when talking about his tantrums as with the fact that he has them. He also seems to be rebel, rather than a bully. I've heard lots of tales of Moore losing his rag with the strong, but none of him picking on the weak. (cue a flood of stories I don't want to hear, probably)
posted by howfar at 5:38 PM on January 13, 2012


When developing the idea, Lloyd wrote a handwritten note: "Why don’t we portray him as a resurrected Guy Fawkes, complete with one of those papier-mâché masks [...]

This seems to say that the image existed before the V for Vendetta character.
posted by gjc at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2012


A long time before, the dummy's face was often a mask. Also, up until the early 18 hundreds the effigy was of the pope, not Guy Fawkes, there's also a bit about cats that you don't want to research.

One of my favourite definitions of anarchism is another of Chomsky's, essentially the bit up to 2:15 here.

It's at its best when it a principle/tendency/methodology utilised by thinkers, and its worst when a doctrinaire ideology parroted by testosterone and angst fuelled believers. IMLTHAO.
posted by titus-g at 1:43 AM on January 14, 2012


There were Guy Fawkes masks like the one Lloyd describes son sale in British newsagents back in the 1970s, but they weren't nearly as stylish as the one Lloyd designed for V. Go to Google Images and enter "Guy Fawkes" + "1970" to see some examples.

I was a kid in Britain back then, and I saw the newsagent masks for myself. Only posh kids bought them, though. The rest of us scrawled our own mask on a scrap of paper, attached it to half-stuffed crappy guy, and then set about demanding money with menaces from any adult who passed by. Happy days.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:55 AM on January 14, 2012


"Alan Moore is a god"   I suppose that summarizes it nicely.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2012


Only posh kids bought them, though.

I'd dispute that as I was a long way from posh I remember having them... but we tended to wear them oursleves on the night (plastic on your face combined with fireworks and bonfire - a great combination, but I never heard of any kids getting your face melted off)

We did make our own mask for the guy - it was end up looking more Frankenstein than Guy Fawkes ("Add some more scars!")
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:12 AM on January 15, 2012


Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous
On Saturday protests are planned across the world against Acta - the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The treaty has become the focus of activists associated with the Anonymous hacking network because of concerns that it could undermine internet privacy and aid censorship.

First published in 1982, the comic series V for Vendetta charted a masked vigilante's attempt to bring down a fascist British government and its complicit media. Many of the demonstrators are expected to wear masks based on the book's central character.

Ahead of the protests, the BBC asked V for Vendetta's writer, Alan Moore, for his thoughts on how his creation had become an inspiration and identity to Anonymous.
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2012


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