Media Culture 10 Years Later / How Much Will It Cost To Buy You Out?
by Gabrielle Price
(Originally published 9/11/2005 | updated, 9/10/2011)
“The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks… [Censorship of the news] is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted “Dis-information”. That is routine behavior in Wartime – for all countries and all combatants – and it makes life difficult for people who value real news.“ ~ Hunter S. Thompson / “When War Drums Roll” 2001
The date that lives in everyone’s memory and the beginning of a road traveled by many. Some have seen the signs, taken the detours and some are still blindly on this road. I traveled down it entirely too long.
I do not wish to take away from the tragedy of that day, or forget those who lost so much (and made me realize what I had). I also do not wish to turn this into a 9/11 Truth discussion. There are many things that happened that do not make much sense to me and an independent investigation is warranted, in my opinion. But this isn’t what this post is about. This is about buying into the fear that was sold at every turn by an administration and the media after this tragic day.
This was a life altering event…an event that brought out the best of us as citizens; the best in people all over the globe when we were experiencing the unimaginable. What is more unimaginable to me is how people have behaved toward each other since; as if that day never occurred. There is a time to grieve and move on, yes. For the families, it is their time to remember in their own way, heal in their own time. I don’t think there is any harm in having public ceremonies but I’m not sure that they need national coverage now. I think we should all remember in our own way. It is as much part of your history as this country’s history as it is etched in the history of humanity. Like asking your parents or grandparents where they were the day Kennedy was shot…it changed things for them. It changed a nation. This day is the same, on a global stage…and the history books may not tell the story the way you will ultimately remember it. (At least, American history books…)
My story begins with a trip in the way-back machine. Many events had occurred in my life before that historic Tuesday morning and in many ways, were still unfolding in small increments. Each day was a new challenge and I was trying my best to believe that each day was a gift. Many of life’s changes are painful – when you’re in them, they can seem excruciating. You can’t stop them from coming – but the pain eventually is forgotten and the lessons learned are carried forward into the next inevitable change.
It is the only constant – so you learn to realize you have two choices. Crawl in a hole and quit or stand up and meet them. [Often, the biggest challenge is to meet them gracefully.]
My best and dearest friend passed away in 1997 from suicide and dealing with that in itself took its toll over subsequent years, especially with life changes to come. The betrayal of a husband, once a friend who then became a stranger to me and others who knew him. This separation directly effected my plan to take care of my grandmother and I had to move out of her house…in so doing, losing the opportunity to buy the house (the family home), the house she wished us to have. I could not have accomplished this purchase on my own, so I had to leave that dream behind. This broke my heart more than the spouse ever did. My grandmother passed soon after I moved out on my own…starting again as a single mom at 33.
Needless to say, I had a lot on my plate and it was a challenge to keep ahead of the curve and keep sanity at the same time. Friends helped as much as they could; family as well. Still, when you are dealing with so much, you tend to lay low and lick your wounds to recoup for another day…or for the next chapter of your life to begin. Without my best friend and my significant other lost to me, recouping was a daunting task. I cried many tears on many nights…
Initially, living on my own with my daughter was doable on my ‘part time/close to full time as you can get’ hours at a nonprofit. We didn’t spend a lot on frivolities but we managed to entertain ourselves on a budget. There was always food on the table and bills were met every month, for a time. We had our reading nights, video game nights and my piecemeal PC, as nickel and dime as it was, kept us entertained. And of course, ultimately, we had each other. Television consisted of maybe 5 channels, the bunny ears leaving arched scratches on the walls for the span of our 6 year stay there. It offered very few choices.
No high speed internet (remember dial-up? *shudder*) and no cable. It took me a few years to break down and get a DVD player because I dragged heels on paying to repurchase on DVD, movies that I already owned on VHS. The only other toy in our sanctuary was my first digital camera and scanner, a gift from my parents for my birthday – which rekindled my affair with photography. Back then, it nourished my soul when it was most needed…and it gave me a voice I’d forgotten I had.
Time passed slowly and wounds healed at the same pace. I found that I had opportunities to travel after a year of saving a little aside and I gave myself permission to go to places that I’d always wanted to see. I went to DC for the first time in the summer of 2001…
I can’t tell you how inspired I was to be in such a place. I was spellbound by the history seeping out of the buildings and parks on the mall to the alleys of Georgetown. I was overwhelmed when I visited the Library of Congress and fell in love at the National Gallery. So much so that I spent two of my four days within its walls.
I was drunk and dizzy with visions of Monet and Rembrandt. I was stunned to be allowed so close to these works, as much as a nose length away so that I could see the brushstrokes. Every room I went into, I saw another painting that I had only known from a photo in a book. Monet’s Lilies, big as life in front of me and I was awestruck. Out another passage and down the hall and there she was…
|‘Flaming June’ Frederic Leighton c.1895 Oil on canvas|
Flaming June, one of my favorite paintings by Frederic Leighton. She was visiting the National Gallery at the same time. You literally could have mopped me off the floor…I couldn’t stop the tears welling up, I was so moved. A female security guard walking past me asked, “Your first time here?” All I could do was smile and nod.
When I returned home from that trip, I was different. I felt renewed, inspired and humbled. It was a giant exhalation and release of old for new. I had taken over 300 pictures in 4 days and I found myself researching DC every time I was online. I knew I would go back and didn’t want to wait too long to return. I also found myself watching more news. I was an ‘election result’ junkie before then and watched the nightly news on a regular basis. I enjoyed catching glimpses of the monuments and the lights on the reflecting pool. In my mind, this place belonged to me, just as it belongs to all of us. Perhaps that sounds naive and in hindsight, I know there was a level of innocence there. Not all of that has been lost…it’s just different.
“Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
I remember September 11th, 2001, a Tuesday morning; like it was yesterday.
I was off work and my then boyfriend had stayed over. We were having coffee and doing the crossword while watching the Today show. Early reports about the first plane; possible pilot heart attack, small aircraft…all speculative. I returned from the kitchen after starting another pot of coffee and saw the second plane hit. Matt Lauer spoke what was in my thought bubble, “That was intentional.”
I forgot everything in that moment. I forgot the coffee, the crossword, the bills, the plans I’d made that day. I was hardly aware that my boyfriend was sitting next to me. I forgot that I was pissed off about not getting my ‘child tax credit’, I forgot that I was angry that Bush was elected. I forgot everything unimportant in the moments following when I witnessed the horror of the first tower falling. What I did remember was everything that was most important to me…and I remember sobbing uncontrollably.
After I regained composure, I called my daughter’s school to find out what was happening there. She was the only person on the planet that I wanted to see and to be with in that moment. The school was on lock down and they were waiting to see what plan, if any, would be put in action to get the students home. I was not able to pick her up and I was imagining the panic of the other parents at home, and at work, wondering the same thing. I called as many people as I could think to call, just to hear their voices and know they were okay. I didn’t leave the television or that front room for the majority of that day. (It is quite possible that I didn’t leave the apartment much that week unless it was for work or necessity.)
That day, I told my boyfriend I loved him. It came out naturally. It did not occur to me that anything I said that day would be considered inappropriate…it just mattered to me that he knew. It didn’t matter whether he said it in return or not, I wanted to say what I felt because for the second time in my life, since my best friend had passed, I realized with a jolt – life really is too fucking short not to say what you feel.
It is hard for me to look back on that day now without being angry. I have to admit a thought that entered my mind then, that if anyone should be in charge of this country at this moment in time, I was glad it was George W. I remember thinking, naively, he would take care of who did this…he would take care of business. Little did I know at the time – that was all he would take care of. In the year following this tragedy, more stories unfolded about the people who lost their lives, the people who saved lives and those who survived. Unfortunately, there were other ‘stories’ that I bought into…a lot of us did.
I wasted precious time in my life being afraid because I bought the fear the government was selling and the media was distributing. I was vulnerable before that day…and after being gripped by tragedy beyond my own…I again became vulnerable to the machine of fear.
A machine that was just ramping up and getting started…its sights set on bulldozing ideas and reason.
10 years later. I thought I would see a day where I would no longer be haunted by that fear. It has morphed into an urgency – one that can only be managed by writing and sharing information. My concerns now are not what they tell us we should be concerned about, but the things they do not tell us and should. What has been seen cannot be unseen.
I don’t recognize my country anymore than I used to recognize journalism and hold it in high regard. Perhaps it was naive to think I recognized either. Over these 10 years, I have coveted Hunter S. Thompson’s work and have been told on more than one occasion that my style of political writing was comparable. Which humbles (and tickles) me because his humor was a powerful salve throughout the Bush years…and still is today.
I often wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have to say if he were with us but I’ve come to understand why he is not here. In my mind, he did not die a coward’s death – he bravely gave us his best during the worst moments in political history this country had ever witnessed.
Worst until now.
It was better to see Doc go out like a samurai rather than die of a broken heart. But there is a part of me that imagined him taking some of the greedheads along in a final blaze of inebriated glory. Then again, those who know his work (on both sides of the political aisle) know that he had more class than that – even at his worst, he was better than politics and journalism now touts as it’s best.
“Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.” – Hunter S. Thompson
The Doc was right. But after ten years, that’s about the only tide I’m beginning to see turn for the better. The ship of professional journalism is being scuttled alongside the Titanic failure of government. For many witnessing it, there’s nothing left but to build grassroots media and political movements or sink quietly into the watery grave of fascism.
In honor of the good Colonel Thompson, I say let’s build and man the lifeboats…with Jolly Rogers flying…and let the good times roll.
Tell the establishment to keep their ‘change’.
BE the change.
Mitch Daniels Not Running for Captain of the Titanic
Aside from the recent news from Washington that The Health and Human Services Department rejected changes in Indiana’s Medicaid plan Wednesday, saying it illegally bans funding for Planned Parenthood, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has also made headlines by stating he will not be running for the White House next year.
Good news for women on both counts…but I’m not getting too excited, Hoosier ladies…he is still in office, can still pander to the Right and can still touch stuff.
What caught my eye recently were statements he made regarding his decision not to run in 2012. Specifically, in regards to the economy; something Mitch should know something about as former Budget Director for the Bush White House. This also means he’s familiar with changing the story when it suits PR.
My question is if he’s not running and can’t seek re-election here in Indiana, these recent statements and pandering are all for what, exactly?
In a recent piece of commentary in my blessedly local county paper; respect for Gov. Daniels shines through as well as disappointment for Mitch not taking that ‘road untraveled’ to the White House. I myself have much more relief than disappointment.
After doing a lot of research about the current Gov. Daniel’s time in the former Bush White House, I wasn’t surprised to find myself looking directly at yet another inconsistency in his statements. Seems I can’t even escape fact checking over morning coffee with a weekly suburban paper. One of Daniels’ statements makes me scratch my head as to what on earth he’s planning to do next because I don’t trust the man as far as I could throw him. I don’t care how cool his motorcycle is.
This isn’t about why he said he wouldn’t run; this is obvious from his statements about his family, which (aside from his Planned Parenthood decision) most find noble. But it was the statements about our national economic crisis that continue to leave me questioning his logic. The same logic of wanting a “truce on divisive social issues” to focus on the financial challenge that “threatens us all” yet Indiana women got no such ‘truce’ when he pandered to the Right (breaking federal law) and never planned to run for the White House?
You have to wonder.
In regards to not seeking a White House run, Daniels’ stated, “The answer is that I will not be a candidate. What could have been a complicated decision was in the end very simple: on matters affecting us all, our family constitution gives a veto to the women’s caucus, and there is no override provision.” [Mitch is the only male in his family unit. Many Indiana women are curious if the decision about Planned Parenthood was discussed with that mini-caucus.] “Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more.”
Daniels continues, “I am deeply concerned, for the first time in my life, about the future of our Republic.” Speaking at an Indiana Education Roundtable meeting at IUPUI, Daniels said, “This nation is facing what the president’s own Deficit Commission Chairman says is the most predictable crisis in history and we’re not doing anything about it. And that’s why I thought about it [running] at all.”
Here is the part where I explain why that particular statement made coffee come out of my nose.
After the 2003 Bush Administration budget release, Mitch Daniels went to Capitol Hill to testify and put on the most ridiculous display of his tenure, refusing to admit the role of the tax cut in the country’s fiscal deterioration. When Senator Kent Conrad, D-ND, asked Daniels about the deficit during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on February 5, 2003, the OMB director simply denied the role of the 2001 legislation, claiming that “it simply is not true that any policy, let alone the tax cuts, is responsible for the deficit we’re facing today.” Conrad incredulously asked, “The tax cuts have no part of the deficits going forward?” Daniels denied he meant this, but when Conrad said, “I am talking about the ten years of this budget window. The tax cuts have played a major role in the return to deficits and burgeoning debt,” Daniels’ reply was “Well, sir, your comment moves me to use a four letter word: bunk,” to which he later added, “The only deficit we know about is the deficit we’re experiencing right now, perhaps the deficit for next year. Let’s be a little humble about what we can and cannot see going forward.”
So now Mitch is deeply concerned about the “most predictable crisis in history”? The hubris was at full speed when the Titanic slammed into the iceberg. Mitch has to see the folly of fighting for that public spot at the Captian’s table, especially since he helped provide the fuel for the ‘full steam ahead’ Bush tax cut policy…the one that has continued to this day. I’m sure he’s deeply concerned that many of the passengers aboard know just how predictable this part of the crisis was. Add throwing the ‘national’ female caucus overboard by breaking his own ‘truce’ during such a colossal economic disaster – and ‘humble guy on motorcycle’ really doesn’t fly.
It’s certainly not the first time for many of us ‘out here’ to be deeply concerned. Media is just one aspect of my concern for the Republic. I’m glad Mitch is not running; for whatever reason it is he tells the short-attention-span press, his family or the public. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the Gov. has up his sleeve next that made him pander to the Right. A cushy corporate job promised? Perhaps a lobbyist? Or could it have been as simple as a dig at the current administration?
I’d like to suggest a new line of work for the future ‘former’ Governor – something socially harmless, like motorcycle sales. Time to earn those cool points back, Mitch.
The last thing the Republic needs while taking on water is to watch ‘yes men’rearranging deck chairs, pandering to religious zealots, worried only about keeping their political careers afloat while praying on their knees that the ‘too big to fail’ ship really isn’t sinking, but sucking up to the shortsighted assholes that built the thing to fail without regulations in place to prevent it. But who needs regulations when you can kiss some ass to get room on the best lifeboats, right?
Most predictable crisis in history, indeed. And there are other icebergs not being discussed that led to this – but the important thing to know is how to get through it. Molly Brown would have been wise enough to see why Wall Street, Big Banks, Congress, politicians, even the President won’t warn the public. It’s because they don’t have enough lifeboats. They are ill-prepared to deal with a panicked Republic tugging at them for safety. They are in ‘save yourself’ mode.
Which is where we all have to be. We are all going to have to build our own lifeboats, in our states and local communities. If the heart and soul of the Republic is going to make it, we have to focus on our local elections more than ever, grow our own food, know our local farmers, community organizations, banks, police, firefighters and our neighbors. The world is about to get a whole lot smaller and a whole lot simpler. I can’t think of too many people who think that’s a bad thing at all.
Does Mitch have some plan for Indiana that reflects his deep concerns? I don’t know and don’t care because he was not concerned about the national economy a decade ago or my health in this current failed economic decade. So I’m not one for waiting around in chest high water for some guy in the engine room, or Captain Obama himself to tell me I need a lifeboat. I’m happy to report that there are many of us who saw the damn iceberg and are far away from the sinking ship.
The Refreshment Center is transitioning in our lifeboat and connecting with others who are doing the same all over the country and around the world. Make no mistake, this is a global economic crisis – the Republic isn’t alone but it is waking up and catching up with the rest of the world now. And we’re finding we want the same things.
Democracy, accountability, sustainability and peaceful community.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
What happens next is up to all of us. You can help The Refreshment Center get the word out by donating during our June ‘angel donor’ fund drive – where all donations are DOUBLED through June 29th to launch the The Refreshment Center – Transition News You Can Use radio station on the web. We’re all in this together, let’s prepare, prepare, prepare!
The V in Deja Vu [Update]
[Update at end of post]
Last year on my birthday, my daughter bought me a copy of one of my favorite graphic novels. One that I had previously owned and lost somewhere along the way. If I loaned it out and it has passed hands, I don’t mind. One possession I rarely spend time worrying about is books, unless they are signed by the author, friends or family – in those instances, I am guilty of coveting. If someone is reading that old graphic novel now, they do so with my blessing. The impact of the powerful and dark story imparted in its pages should have the reader feeling rather uncomfortable in their easy chair.
Sometimes deja vu has the same effect.
|V – The graphic novel|
V for Vendetta was a comic book series years before I was introduced to the graphic novel…and almost two decades before it was a movie. Unless you are an avid (or even passive) comic book reader, this information might seem trivial or uninteresting. If you have seen the movie, the history of the comic might not seem especially noteworthy. A lot of American movie-goers are inclined to miss the stories behind the stories on the big screen, specifically those based on books and comics (and especially foreign films with English subtitles). If you saw the film, V for Vendetta and found it prescient in 2005 or if it rattled your cage later on DVD, then I bid you welcome.
The series, written by Alan Moore with art by David Lloyd, V For Vendetta the graphic novel was published by DC/Vertigo Comics with several reprints. For those new to comic speak: basically, a graphic novel is a compilation of a run of a numbered comic series in book form. The first run of the comic in the U.S., series 1 through 10 in magazine form was published in 1988. (Yes, you read that right, 1988.) But hold on a minute…the original printing of books 1 and 2, “Vertigo” and “Vincent” were first published in the United Kingdom in 1982…
|Ad for the original series|
Think about that for a minute. What was going on in the minds of the comic artists that was noteworthy in 1982, from a historical perspective, in light of events occurring today that makes this particular comic and film so prescient? Aren’t you curious? Good. First, check out the list of newsworthy events from that year. Second, come back and we’ll continue down the rabbit hole together. Humor me, Alice.
Keep in mind, in 1982 the Prime Minister of the UK was Margaret Thatcher. The President of the United States was Ronald Reagan. What I hope, Dear Reader is that you will get a sense of what qualified as ‘newsworthy’ between our two countries specifically then and other things going on in the world that involved one or the other militarily, socially and economically. Take time to peruse over them for a mental snapshot, if you will. I would list them but we’d be here another decade and I have to eat and sleep. Note any parallels in this timeline to anything going on currently…and what is different about those parallels now.
Still with me? Good. Welcome back. 1982 was a pretty busy year, wasn’t it?
Now, if you were alive and aware of something more than Saturday morning cartoons that year, do you remember what was going on in your world in 1982? This is what most people will remember about a specific year when asked – is what happened to them personally. This is what connects us to our history.
Me? I was shifting from my freshman to sophomore year in high school. I hadn’t reached literature as an elective course until the following year, before such a thing as ‘required reading’ existed in my world unless it was something collectively read aloud in turns. (Flashback: In the 6th grade, I was fortunate enough to have a great teacher who had us reading Tolkien aloud.) In 1982 I was aware of comic books like Spiderman, Superman, Batman, even Captain America as a consequence of walking to the local Ma and Pa drug store (yes, they were there quite a long time) down the street from my grandparent’s house and seeing them in their spinning metal magazine rack. But I wasn’t introduced to the genre until well after it had changed and it’s writing had matured. Another thing I remember vividly about 1982 was learning about WWII in history class. It was the first I had heard of Adolf Hitler and the holocaust. It changed me. Initially, I was pissed off that no one had ever told me about such atrocities. I realized later, it was the catalyst for my love of research and…the bane of many adults’ existence…asking a lot of questions. How the hell was something that horrific allowed to happen? Thus, an already Gemini info junkie was turned truth hound in 1982. I couldn’t borrow or check out enough books.
Comics like V for Vendetta and Judge Dredd (also a UK release) caused controversy with many a parent, I’m sure. If memory serves me, I believe Judge Dredd was banned at some point because of it’s mature content. Over the course of several decades, and up to the last two years there have been issues with banning comic art and books as the genres have grown and expanded into different cultures and markets. For example; Anime
I was a latecomer to comics in the mid 90’s, after I married and lived in England a few years. If I’d only known earlier, I’d have such a comic collection now! I have to thank my younger brother for my introduction to the genre (among a cornucopia of books still coveted to this day). My daughter would thank him, too, as she is now a comic artist. I send out more gratitude to them both for subsequent introductions to new comic works over several decades. All of them gifts to this pop-culture nut and mom-turned-would-be writer. Since 1985 the issue of free speech has been paramount to me – because of what I learned about music industry censorship and the struggle against it. There is an organization called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) founded in 1985 because of the need to fight censorship and they still fight on today. (Please show them some support.)
The music industry could have done with an org like CBLDF that when former Second Lady, Tipper Gore and the PMRC were rabid for censoring artists like Ice T and the Dead Kennedy’s, Jello Biafra – both of whom spoke out tenaciously for first amendment rights here in the U.S, as well as artists like Dee Snider and Frank Zappa. To my knowledge, no current artist is pushing boundaries in the music industry since it’s about as vanilla as it can get. I think that’s a damn shame and truly independent music artists suffer for it. So do American ears because the bar is set so low. I can’t even bring myself to turn the radio on anymore, so I thank heavens for the Internet music buffet, or we’d have had to listen to music the Palin-wannabes below want want us all to listen to. Is it any wonder Gore didn’t get far with young people? (Yet another blog in and of itself.)
|PMRC – Parents Music Resource Center
the org that brought you the Parental Advisory Sticker
The kind of censorship we are dealing with now is far more aggressive with the growth of the Internet and it’s freedoms, parallel to the rise of the Religious Right and Homeland Security in our post 9/11, ‘fear of everything different’ than status quo, Ozzie and Harriet Redux world. What it boils down to is control of what you see, hear or read. Corporate media isn’t telling you anything you really need to know that will help you or your family during these trying times. Corporate radio keeps you entertained but uninspired. Wikileaks is simply an inoculation against Corporate Media and American Empire, one sorely needed right now if we give a damn about the freedoms we’ve taken for granted for far too long. We’ve become accustomed to it as much as American Idol…to our own detriment. When I think of all I learned about free speech and free press since 1982, and how absolutely vital it is to our democracy – our government’s response to much needed transparency is akin to having Dick Cheney telling us to ‘Fuck off’ again. It is a prime example of how far down the fascist rabbit hole we’ve allowed ourselves to fall. We can’t be concerned if the Rabbit made the Tea Party on time, if Lindsay Lohan sobers up, if Michael Vick wants another dog, if Ted Nugent suddenly says something at all relevant on Anderson Cooper…it’s WAY past time for a different kind of curious, Alice. The Jabberwocky is right behind us…and it’s hungry.
|…and getting bigger with every merger…
(click to full view the scope)
One of my journalistic heroes, Edward R. Murrow once said, “If what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it.” These are days when I feel a responsible urgency to write and share what I have learned about journalism and free speech – a history that has now become an ‘alternative’ to mainstream media as ‘alternative’ became another label to hang on a vast slew of artists once new to the music industry. But journalism is NOT entertainment; journalism is a patriotic duty. It isn’t as fun as it looks – and stepping into this forum at this moment in history sure doesn’t keep me or my fellow writers in cosmos and shrimp cocktail – but I tell you what’s better than that for me personally – I sleep better at night. For would-be writers I offer this nugget of wisdom I heard before I took a leap into writing, “If something is missing from what you are reading and if you feel there is a voice missing from the conversation – it’s yours. Write what’s missing.”
In closing, here are the two introductions promised, written by both artists as a preface to the graphic novel, V For Vendetta.
I hope Alan and David will forgive me for using their words here but they are very important – it’s what inspired me to write this and it ties this all together. These are two snapshots in time from brilliant artists that brought a story to life…the collective work I personally consider an achievement worthy of being a generation’s required reading as much as ‘1984’ and ‘Farenheit 451’ was for my own. They may balk at such a comparison but this graphic novel was as much part of my culture as those books were to many at the time they were published. I had the distinct pleasure to hear Ray Bradbury and Will Eisner give speeches during my lifetime of reading their works. Both of them equally important – both of them vitamins for an ill society. Pop culture is still culture. Yes, that includes comic books.
V for Vendetta graphic novel introduction by artist David Lloyd:
A few nights ago, I walked into a pub on my way home and ordered a Guinness.
I didn’t look at my watch, but I knew it was before eight o’clock. It was Tuesday and I could hear the television in the background still running the latest episode of EastEnders – a soap opera about the day-to-day life of cheeky, cheery working-class people in a decaying, mythical part of London.
I sat in a booth and picked up a copy of a free newspaper someone had left on the
seat beside me. I’d read it before. There wasn’t much news in it. I put down the paper and decided to sit at the bar.
It wasn’t a busy night. I could hear the murmuring of the distant TV above the chatter of
the people at the bar and the clack-clack of colliding snooker balls.
After EastEnders came Porridge – a rerun of a situation comedy series about a cheeky,
cheery prisoner in a comfortably unoppressive, decaying, Victorian prison.
Almost imperceptibly, spirits leaked from the optics of upturned bottles behind the bar.
Droplets of whiskey and vodka formed and fell soundlessly as I watched.
I finished my drink. I looked up and the barman caught my eye. “Guinness?“ he asked,
already reaching for a fresh glass. I nodded.
The barman’s wife arrived and began to help with the trickle of customers’ orders.
At 8:30, following Porridge, came A Question of Sport – a simple panel quiz game featuring cheeky, cheery sports celebrities answering questions about other sports celebrities, many of whom were as cheeky and cheery as themselves.
“I’ll tell the barman about the optics,” I thought.
The Nine O’Clock News followed A Question of Sport. Or, at least for 30 seconds it did,
before the television was switched off and cheeky, cheery pop music took it’s place.
I looked over at the barman, “Just half this time,” I said.
As he filled the glass, I solemnly asked him why he’d switched off the news. “Don’t ask
me – that was the wife,“ he replied, in a cheeky, cheery manner, as the subject of his playful targeting bustled in a corner of the bar.
The leaking optics had ceased to have any importance for me.
I finished my drink and left, almost certain the TV would be silent for the rest of the evening. For after the Nine O’Clock News would have come The Boys from Brazil, a film with few cheeky, cheery characters in it, which is all about a bunch of Nazis creating 94 clones of Adolf Hitler.
There aren’t many cheeky, cheery characters in V For Vendetta either; and it’s for people who don’t switch off the news.
~ David Lloyd – January 14, 1990
V for Vendetta graphic novel introduction by writer Alan Moore:
I began V For Vendetta in the summer of 1981, during a working holiday upon the Isle of Wight.
My youngest daughter, Amber, was a few months old. I finished it in the late winter of 1988, after a gap in publishing of nearly five years from discontinuation of England’s Warrior magazine, its initial home. Amber is now seven. I don’t know why I mentioned that. It’s just one of those unremarkable facts that strike you suddenly, with unexpected force, so that you have to go and sit down.
Along with Marvelman (now Miracleman), V For Vendetta represents my first attempt at a continuing series, begun at the outset of my career. For this reason, amongst others, there are things that ring oddly in earlier episodes when judged in the light of the strip’s later development. I trust you’ll bear with us during any initial clumsiness, and share our opinion that it was for the best to show the early episodes unrevised, warts and all, rather than go back and eradicate all trace of youthful creative inexperience.
There is also a certain amount of political inexperience upon my part evident in these early episodes. Back in 1981 the term “nuclear winter” had not passed into common currency, and although my guess about climatic upheaval came pretty close to the eventual truth of the situation, the fact remains that the story to hand suggests that a nuclear war, even a limited one, might be survivable. To the best of my current knowledge, this is not the case.
Naivete can also be detected in my supposition that it would take something as melodramatic as a near-miss nuclear conflict to nudge England toward fascism. Although in fairness to myself and David, there were no better or more accurate predictions of our country’s future available in comic form at that time. The simple fact that much of the historical background of the story proceeds from a predicted Conservative defeat in the 1982 General Election should tell you how reliable we were in our role as Cassandras.
It’s 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS. The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top. The government has expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against. I’m thinking of taking my family and getting out of this country soon, sometime over the next couple of years. It’s cold and it’s mean-spirited and I don’t like it here anymore.
Goodnight England. Goodnight Home Services and V for Victory.
Hello the voice of Fate (London) and V For Vendetta.
~ Alan Moore – Northampton, March 1988
So…I ask America…do we live with deja vu…or will we ‘remember, remember’ the first amendment?
V said: “Words are a means to meaning.” Indeed, we can learn a lot about the world, ourselves and our society through words, lyrics, poetry – they are vehicles of a people’s history, not textbook myths which change now as often as politicians keep promises. It is words used wisely that are building blocks of truth and should be the foundation of democracy. There is a damn good reason the Founding Fathers made it the First Amendment. We The People need to keep it a priority.
COMIC NEWS UPDATE
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Today on their blog, DC Comics co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee announced that DC Comics would no longer submit their books to The Comics Code Authority for approval. They will instead use their own ratings system for each book. The changes go into effect in April.
The Comics Code Authority came about in 1954 and is a relic from the era of Wertham-inspired fear, when comic books were thought to cause deviant behanvior in young boys. In order for the comic book industry to survive they had to submit themselves to oversight from the The Comics Code Authority who had a list of what could and could not be portrayed in the pages of a comic book.
Over the years the guidelines were updated and changed with the times and occasionally both DC and Marvel Comics would publish an issue without Comics Code Authority Approval.
The Power of Nightmares
posted by Gabrielle Price
I watched this series about a month ago and it really shined a bright light on how the Neocons began their grip on this country and turned politics into the most illogical, morally bankrupt system known to man.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in a flag and carrying a cross.” ~ Sinclair Lewis