Smerth Note: Remember Remember the Fifth of November
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!”
A lot of people think its kind of sad that this is my favorite movie. I’m not sad. It has Natalie Portman and poetry and roses and symbolism and ribbons of blood; everything that makes a movie great.
I remember when I first saw it. My stepbrother and his friend were home, I joined in the viewing party and was forever hooked. I’ve always been a bit of a revolutionary.
I read the graphic novel years later, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a while. I remember the novel being better, as it always is. But why is this still my favorite movie? Why does this story matter so much to me? I think its because I believe very strongly in the idea of a civic form of nationalism (CALM DOWN. I know that this is an ism that people have a lot of trouble with, but humor me…) Civic nationalism is the idea that it is not your skin color or ethnicity that determines your belonging to the nation, but your participation in it. Civic nationalism is dependent on voting, on thinking about our democratic processes, on potentially running for office. It requires a different level of participation based on who each of us are but it requires all of us to think about and involve ourselves in civics. In this view of nationalism new immigrants are often the ones who best emulate the ideal. It perpetuates a melting pot type of cultural relativism that allows us to practice different religions and speak in different languages, but all be American (or British or French or whatever). V for Vendetta is showing us what the world looks like when people stop caring, don’t examine the common narrative, and blindly trust in authority figures. If it isn’t a lesson on the importance of critical thinking and voting, then I don’t know what is.
So this is me imploring you to go vote, if you haven’t already. Don’t be the dust under the wheels of history! Be the tiny little piece of gravel that flies up onto the presidential motorcade and bashes the window in a disproportionate way for its size and makes the passenger go “What the hell?!” (And I mean any presidential motorcade from any time in history. I think its obvious that I lean a certain way, but you do you!). Just…vote. Please.
And without further ado, please enjoy this lesson on the importance of civics from my favorite Old Person TV Show: CBS’s Sunday Morning.
Also just for anyone who got this far that poem about Guy Fawkes ends with a few Holla Back Boys and a hip hip hoorah:
“Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!”