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PSA: Guy Fawkes Was Kind of a Jerkface

In Politics, Rants on October 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I’ll have a much longer (and more positive) essay/post about Occupy Portland soon, but first I want to allow myself a little mini-rant about something that’s been bothering me.

My fellow disaffected Americans: Can we please stop it with the Guy Fawkes masks? You know the ones I mean. These:

(Also, the whole black bandanna thing is also kind of silly.)

I have a number of gripes with these. They are thus:

1: Guy Fawkes wasn’t a liberal crusader for the rights of the people. He was a Catholic radical who wanted to blow up the English Parliament as part of an elaborate plot to increase the power of the Catholic Church in England. Parliaments (English and otherwise) are places where deliberation and democracy happen. Representatives of the people debate, argue, and generally hash things out in the messy process of legislation and then make laws. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what the Catholic Church does. That’s an organization where all the rules are made by old celibate guys in robes- hardly a paragon of democracy. Guy Fawkes would have gladly exploded the former to help the latter.

2: He wanted to blow up a goddamn building. That’s not cool. People who want to make London go “BOOM” should not be role models.

3: If we really want protests and popular movements like Occupy Wall Street and its various offshoots to be successful, they have to be persuasive to middle-class Americans. If Mr. and Mrs. Middle class are watching the news at night and they see the protests are populated by a bunch of masked (or bandanna-ed) freaks, they are much more likely to go “pish-posh!” and dismiss the substance of the movement out of hand. However, if they see a bunch of people with whom they identify, they are more likely pay attention the substance of what’s going on.

If you show up looking like a costumed freak with a sign, then lots of people will just see you as a costumed freak. If you show up in normal clothes and a sign, though, then you’re an American with something to say. That’s hardly fair, but it is how things are.

4: V For Vendetta is not Alan Moore’s best work, and the movie isn’t that great. Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Swamp Thing, and even The Killing Joke are all way better. Vendetta’s good (it is Alan Moore, after all) but if we’re going to drag comic book imagery into politics, can it at least be stuff from a better graphic novel?

That is all. I’ll have a more positive post soon.


  1. Is this a re-post? I feel like I have read the Guy Fawkes rant before.

    • Not a re-post, but no, this isn’t an original idea. Lots of people have complained about this before.

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