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The Collation

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

photo by flickr user wearethe99%

Last week, while flipping through a magazine (sorry, I don’t recall which one, but you probably all read the same stuff I do), my attention was caught by a photo of two people wearing what I immediately recognized as Guy Fawkes masks. Now, how Guy Fawkes would be instantly recognizable in twenty-first-century popular culture is one of the things that gave me pause. Another was what the article was describing—a phenomenon of Guy Fawkes mask-wearing protesters in the Occupy Wall Street campaigns around the US and Europe. But what really caught my attention was the article’s description of Fawkes as “an English folk hero.”

I practically did a double take. I know I reread that sentence. For though I’m no expert on Guy Fawkes, I do know that he’s no English folk hero. Unless, that is, one takes into account another twist in the long afterlife of the Gunpowder Plot. This most recent twist, and the direct avenue by which the masks are coming into play in the Occupy Wall Street protests, is through the 2006 Warner Bros. movie, V for Vendetta. There are hints of this twist from earlier times as well: in an email conversation I had with David Cressy last week, he recalled a slogan from a Thatcher-era British election: “vote for Guy Fawkes, the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions.”