In authoritarian China, all media is controlled and routinely censored. So consider the surprise of viewers across China last week when the 2005 anti-authoritarian film "V For Vendetta" played on state TV.
The film has gained a cult following since its release and popularized the Guy Fawkes masks that have been adopted by hacktivist group Anonymous and elements of Occupy Wall Street. The film did not play in Chinese theaters but aired last Friday night on Chinese Central Television.
Shanghaist, which also points out that Guy Fawkes masks have been available for sale in Shanghai for some period of time, posted comments from shocked Chinese audiences at the airing of the film:
One user said that when he saw it: "I begin to suspect that I was dreaming!" Another said:
Yesterday evening CCTV unexpectedly broadcast 'V for Vendetta' This is sooooo unbelievable! the most important lines from the film are that 'people shouldn't fear the government, the government should fear the people,' and that 'ideas don't fear bullets'
If my memory serves me correctly, this was a prohibited film before. There were too many lines in it about people demanding freedom, and people helping each other to eventually break out [from oppression]. The whole film is saturated with these themes.
Someone else said:
CCTV has broadcast 'V for Vendetta.' This makes netizens believe, people shouldnt fear their government, the government should fear the people! Love the V mask!
American protesters in particular have appropriated the film's iconography without any relevance to its anti-government origins. Ironically, both Anonymous and Occupy have used the Guy Fawkes masks to promote authoritarian pro-left causes such as politically connected labor unions and anti-Israel Islamists.
Two thugs wearing Guy Fawkes were also respronsible for destroying the catering equipment of Clint The Hot Dog Guy in Lansing, Mich. during anti-right-to-work protests on Dec. 11.