"V" for Vendetta
Last week my son and I went to the preview of "V" for Vendetta. The theater was filled with college-aged students. I did not know what I was getting into, and when Luke asked if I wanted background, I said "No, I'll just watch it on my own." For the next 2 hours (or however long it was), I was alternately moved, bored, perplexed and transfixed. Something was being said in a language I did not know. It certainly was not another "Matrix", but it was haunting. I couldn't get it out of my mind.
The lead character is in a mask for the entire movie. I expected that it might be removed (ala Star Wars) but it wasn't. The female lead moved from innocent to hard, feminine to genderless. There was a lot of gender-bending in the movie and music mixing across genres. So, I tried to consider it something I saw, that I could talk with young people about, but little more than that.
Then, on a night flight from LA to Chicago, I sat next to a guy reading one of those graphic novels (not graphic like pornographic, but fantasy characters with lots of dialogue baloons around them, monochromatic line drawings, cartoon-like, but for adults). I screwed up my nerve and asked him what he was reading. That question turned into a four hour conversation right into OHare airport. My seatmat was a graphic novelist, who was returning from a convention in LA for other graphic novelists. When I demonstrated interest and ignorance, he led me into a fascinating discussion about the independent genre of graphic novels, morphing between literature and film. He told me that "V" for Vendetta was based on a well-known graphic novel. Many of them adapt classic themes and recast them in fantasy settings. He is a Palestinian Muslim from Chicago who hungers for God. We left the plane as new-found friends and I will update you when his novel hits publication.
The third conversation happened on Friday with a young pastor who is working outside the structured church with dischurched people in our community. When we were visiting together, we got into the area of institutional faith, both the pros and the cons. Together we talked about what is core to the church and what are historical, cultural, class and ethnicity accumulations. Then he asked me if I knew about "V" for Vendetta. When I told him I just saw it, his eyes lit up and he said; that's how many young people see the church....it needs blowing up. Yikes! Of course he was not advocating terrorism or violence, but explaning to me the reflexive response young people (and others) have towards any institution of faith, and structure, any hierarchy and overarching authority: make music with it by blowing it up. They automatically distrust the institutional church.
That's a huge impass. I sensed it a bit while living in Minneapolis when someone said: "How do we know Pastor Don is lying? His lips are moving!" Ouch! There was a conditioned suspicion and distrust, not so much of me as a person (I hope) but of the role of the ordained pastor.There was nothing I could do to dissuuade them. I must have sold out. I must have lost my freedom to political expediencey. I must be a lackey for the system. Is that what I'm sensing out here in California with a number of good friends who are believers, but resisters to joining any local church? Does "V" for Vendetta give us a clue?