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While watching V for Vendetta with a protestant family member (after having watched it many times myself), I immediately had to defend the movie as not specifically being anti-protestant (or pro-catholic). But, as the movie went on, I wondered about this more and more, and didn't want to defend it unjustly.

The main points are I think (all of this is arguable; some of it may be incorrect/misinformation but is what I've been told):

  • historically, Guy Fawkes is specifically anti-protestant/pro-catholic, and the movie treats him positively

  • the rhyme "Remember, remember, the 5th of November" is turned around by the movie not to mean "beware of the (catholic) treason", but to mean to remember the catholic assassination attempt as a good thing, even something to be reenacted

  • the people that V kills are presented as either stereotypically protestant or at least stereotypically Anglican (as far as I know there is little difference)

  • V leaves Scarlet Carsons for many of his victims, which are symbols of the Catholic Church.

I think that's it, so it's not a strong case by any means, but it's something I can't stop wondering about. I would love to be able to say that the movie is more or less religiously and politically neutral (aside from of course being anti-authoritarian and pro-freedom).

EDIT: I worded my fundamental question better in the comments: how can I avoid the interpretation that V is a catholic vigilante who is gaining retribution for protestants/anglicans having taken over England?

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  • It's anti-establishment, and the English establishment is characteristically Anglican (or Anglicanism is characteristically English). – OrangeDog Oct 17 '19 at 16:38
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It is not as much anti-religious as anti-establishment.

V can be seen as an anti-protestant vigilante because the government is using the Church of England as one of its method of control of the population. It doesn't mean it is pro-Catholic or pro-Muslim, even if we see that possession of Quran is a punishable offence: Islam is banned because of the St Mary's attack were blamed on Muslim terrorists and the Party has rallied people under the banner of xenophobia.

Now please note that it is never mentioned that the Guy Fawkes was a Catholic fighting Protestants - he is displayed as someone willing to fight with the system because he thought that the persecution of people based on their beliefs is wrong. Which is more or less historically accurate: the Gunpowder Plot was trying to kill the unjust (in their opinion) king, not protestants; they were planning to blow up the parliament, not the Westminster Chappel

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605,[a] as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. [...]
On 19 February 1604, shortly after he discovered that his wife, Queen Anne, had been sent a rosary from the pope via one of James's spies,[d] Sir Anthony Standen, James denounced the Catholic Church. Three days later, he ordered all Jesuits and all other Catholic priests to leave the country, and reimposed the collection of fines for recusancy. Wikipedia: Gunpowder Plot

The movie portraits Guy Fawkes (and V) as a hero fighting the corrupted system, not someone fighting for/against certain religion, someone who is standing in defence of people persecuted for daring to be different than the system would like.

While the Church of England in the movie might be displayed as a corrupt institution, I don't believe that was the purpose of the movie - its the country that is sick, the Party that used its influence to promote a paedophile priest to the position of bishop.

Now regarding the last few points:

the people that V kills are presented as either stereotypically protestant or at least stereotypically Anglican (as far as I know there is little difference)

For me, those people are stereotypically BRITISH. Neither of them (including the bishop) is displayed as a religious figure and by looking at them I couldn't say (but then I am not British myself) are they protestant, catholic or cultists of Cthulhu: they drink tea, and say "bollocks" a lot. When God and religion is ever mentioned, it is always in the context of Party:

So I read that the former United States is so desperate for medical supplies... ... that they have allegedly sent several containers filled with wheat and tobacco. A gesture, they said, of goodwill. You wanna know what I think? Well, you're listening to my show, so I will assume you do. It's high time we let the colonies know what we really think of them. I think it's payback time for a little tea party they threw for us a few hundred years ago. I say we go down to those docks tonight and dump that crap... ... where everything from the Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica belongs! Who's with me? Who's bloody with me?! Did you like that? U.S.A., Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica. I mean, what else can you say? Here was a country that had everything, absolutely everything... ... and now, 20 years later, is what? The world's biggest leper colony. Why? Godlessness. Let me say that again. Godlessness.

Do I have to mention that the USA is a predominately protestant country? The religion is used only as a tool, a method to justify the Party's work:

Immigrants, Muslims... ... homosexuals, terrorists. Disease-ridden degenerates. They had to go. Strength through unity. Unity through faith. I am a God-fearing Englishman, and I'm goddamn proud of it!

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-1

Short answer: YES.

Long answer: it's anti-religious in general. Or, if someone wants to be specific, anti-Christian. As in "everything that stems from the Vatican is bad".
Main two arguments for that would be the image of the papal cross, and the arrest of the TV presenter for possessing a Koran (the latter could arguably be seen as a symbol for any religion that wants to annihilate any opposition for fear it would also become powerful).

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  • I'm wondering if it's specifically anti-protestant though. Can I honestly tell a protestant that there is no specifically anti-protestant or pro-catholic message here? – Dave Cousineau Oct 17 '19 at 7:25
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    @DaveCousineau It's anti religious. Most prominent religion in England is protestantism. It's not pro-catholic. – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 17 '19 at 8:06
  • but how can I avoid the interpretation that V is a catholic vigilante who is gaining retribution for protestants/anglicans having taken over England? – Dave Cousineau Oct 17 '19 at 19:35
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    But both the papal cross and the Vatican are symbols of catholicism exclusively - not of protestantism. So the apparent ("anti-Christian") conclusion you draw from it ("everything that stems from the Vatican is bad") seems misplaced or badly argued. – Joachim Oct 17 '19 at 19:36
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    -1, you are looking for things that are not there. The movie portrays a far-right inspired government supported by a power-hungry religious leader. The latter is not particularly anti-religious, history is littered with examples. Using the papal symbol/catholicism is likely done because it's most recognisable in the western world. Similarly, a far-right government that is anti-islam is common in the western world so it's simply recognisable. – KillianDS Oct 18 '19 at 6:38
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By the symbols used and plot elements, I think it might be more of a 'LGBT rights'(more specifically the feminine element of it) subtext, against the any sort of people which might come with similar oppression against minorities, and only 'anti-religious' at the measure this things might have some intersection (be it 'geniune' - that is, the great teachers and prophets of some religion actually encouraged something of that nature, or not - which certainly is the case of christianity @SZCZERZO KŁY).

  • The Guy Fawkes mask - Guy fawkes could be just 'the guy who belonged to an oppressed minority who wanted to take down the dominating power structure - which was associated with a religion - by blowing the house of the lords with explosives". The explanation for the mask is at the end of t his text.
  • You mentioned "Remember, remember, the 5th of November". It could be very well because november is the only month with a V, 5 is V in roman numeral. And maybe 11:05 in a clock is a V.
  • People that V kills are zealots of a dominant oppressive ideology - It doesn't matter whatever it is.
  • Valerie's lover Ruth grew Scarlet Carsons for her, and V said she was decisive in his desire for vengeance. Even V's body had Scarlet Carsons over him when he was sent with the bombs.

Traditionally, the upright triangle is symbol of fire, which is a symbol of the masculine. The downward for water, which is a symbol for the feminine - I guess hence the countless V's on the movie. The government Norse Fire(a masculine symbol), headed by its high chancelor Adam Sutler(played by John Hurt, Winston Smith in 1984). Its symbol is a red(fire?()) with a double cross that could be either a patriarchal cross or part of Leviathan's cross , which is a symbol for brimstone (you get either 'patriarchy' or 'fire and brimstone'(Sodom and Gomorrah?)
The protagonist is Evey(Eve - it has a V and opposes do Adam). The Wachovsky changed the original nuclear thing for a biological weapon delivered in a water treatment plant called Three Waters, a London Underground station (and V lived in one after escaping imprisonment), and the St. Mary's Primary School. There is also V himself (The man from room V) and Valerie

  • Wachovsky sisters are both transgender who only gradually assumed their identity

  • The character V

    • Was "The man from room V"
    • For some strange reason (maybe because something similar ocurred in Fryes novel - check below), the doctor "treating" him said that the fact that he didn't remember whoever he was was a very positive thing and he was the key to their dream (? - what does this has to with curing some virus? Why was his body al burnt? Why did the medical facility ended up looking like a representation of hell - huge flames everywhere and looking much more like a cave than blown up building - when V escaped? And did he get Valeries letter before or after that?)
    • Has excessively gentle, 'refined', polite speech and behaviour.
    • Uses french words very frequently
    • Used a female apron to prepare breakfast for Eve
    • Portrayed by Hugo Weaving, from Priscilla
    • Kind of 'refused' a kiss by Evey, and right after that threw away his mask while breaking the mirror (which is usually a symbol for distaste for ones self)
  • Actor Stephen Fry - which is a homosexual actor and famous LGBT activist. His character, a gay TV show host, was arrested, beaten and killed by the government, at his house where there was:

    • A 'God save the queen'(I'm not sure part of the n was covered by accident, maybe they wanted to imply queer) board portraying governor as queen elizabeth
    • BDSM gay art.
    • A Quran - and said he "I don't have to be Muslim to find it's images beautiful or it's poetry moving" - Which is probably the message he wanted to say, exchanging Muslim (a group probably also persecuted by that government) for 'LGBT people'
    • The 'egg breakfast for Evey'(which is not only that - he also greeted her gently, in french) coincidence and afterward joke is obviously 'a meta joke which is not a joke' - evidently they were associating the two characters. Also, and maybe more importantly, V states his favorite movie is 'The Count of Monte Cristo' - which is also about revenge (and has many parallels with Vendetta), and in 2000 Stephen Frye wrote an adaptation of it called 'The Stars' Tennis Balls' - Title later changed to 'Revenge' (!!!) - in which the protagonist, who has his life destroyed multiple times by people trying to hide their vices, has his enemies all killed in ways that mirror their vices, just like in Vendetta. Not only that - The protagonist Edward Maddstone is also brainwashed into forgetting what happened after being imprisoned, just like V, but also manages to remember it.
    • Said he must hide his identity if he is to survive in the current sociocultural and economical environment.
  • Valerie - to which V made an altar, was a lesbian, who was expected to become 'normal' after her teens but didn't, was violently expelled from home by her father (it was specifically said that her mother said nothing, but was shown crying and holding a picture of her as a baby, which her father took from her and threw in the garbage - maybe this implied she was actually ok with that but didn't have enough strength against her father). She was also an actress - her first movie was salt(again, Sodom and Gomorrah) flats. Said that when the party took power, the word 'different' started to mean 'dangerous' - time when it was shown police invading the home of a gay couple. Valerie and her lover Ruth were also caught. V was in the cell next to her - and confirmed to Evey this was all it was about.

  • Little girl killed had what can be considered 'manly' attitude

When the bombs exploded at the end, everyone with a guys fawkes masks takes off their masks - I guess its a symbol for not having to hide ones identity if it doesn't fit the parties ideals.

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  • Having refined speech and using french words is considered LGBTQ? Mon dieu... So if Hugo Weaving is in any movie from now on, it's a sign the movie has a LGBTQ subtext? That all sounds like a stretch. – Luciano Apr 22 at 8:38
  • @Luciano it is stereotypically considered effeminate - I don't think you need to google "french effeminate" to become aware of that. Do you think the fact the only other three victims of the party (Fry, Valerie and Ruth) extensively covered in the film were all gay actors - one of them being in real life a gay actor and also a LGBTQ activist - and who in the movie itself spoke on the theme - and the movie directors themselves are transgender is a coincidence? – galmeida Apr 22 at 11:19
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    I should have made the title less vague. My real question is: how do I avoid the interpretation that V is an anti-protestant pro-catholic vigilante? I don't feel like that has been adequately answered. – Dave Cousineau Apr 24 at 2:08
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    That's a lot of very, very far reaching conclusions, especially about V himself: Hugo Weaving wasn't playing V because he has played crossdresser in Priscilla - in fact, he was the second actor, because James Purefoy had problems breathing in the mask. V acts very "French" because Count Monte Christo is his favorite movie. Wearing apron doesn't make you feminine (have you ever seen a blacksmith). The movie is indeed pro-LGBT since it portrays the persecution of gays (among others) for who they are, but this doesn't answer the original question - is it anti-protestant, pro-catholic. – Yasskier Apr 27 at 1:40
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    Yes, and Weaving played in Matrix and his character name in that movie was Agent Smith like in Agent Orange - a chemical weapon used during Vietnam War, which was protested by the people on Woodstock, which was promoting free love and gay rights. Also, Matrix shows characters using Nokia cell phone, which is produced in Finland which is very open to LGBT rights. And he was an elf in LOTR, which are very feminine, so kind-of gay and.... we can go on and on, with a very lose and silly connections that still don't answer the original question. – Yasskier Apr 27 at 3:12

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