“He starts with her back, ‘cause that’s what he sees.
When she’s breaking his heart, she still fucks like a tease.
Release to the sky, look him straight in the eye
And tell him right now that you wish he would die.
You’ll never touch him again, so get what you can,
Bleeding him empty just because he’s a man.”
Stars, “One More Night”
“A sin takes on new and real terrors when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
“I could just pretend that you love me;
The night would lose all sense of fear.
But why do I need you to love me
When you can’t hold what I hold dear?
Could it be the weather?
Why am I here?
If love isn’t forever
And it’s not the weather
Hand me my leather.
I almost ran over an angel.
He had a nice big fat cigar.
‘In a sense,’ he said, ‘You’re alone here
So if you jump, you best jump far.’”
Tori Amos (1963-), “Leather”
There are many things in this world that can easily be considered unforgiveable abominations. War. Genocide. Infanticide. Leaders lying to their constituents. Selling drugs to children. Covering up murders and claiming them as suicides to save on state taxes.
All of these pale in comparison to a specific personal violation. Oftentimes in life—more often than most people care to admit or recognize—someone who may even appear to care for us on a very deep level may throw it all to the wind and hurt us deeply. Sex crimes are often joked about—as most of the world’s most dreadful aspects, from terrorism to murder frequently are—but for those who have experienced them, they are no laughing matter.
Llyod’s enigmatic Codename V
mounts a one-man crusade against
a totalitarian government.
The topic of sex crimes is once again all over the front page as Pope Benedict XVI has once again been caught with dirty hands. He has been accused of attempting to cover up the abuse of nearly 200 deaf children, in addition to an unnamed man from Milwaukee attempting to sue the Pope, claiming sex abuse years earlier; and, finally, as Richard Dawkins and compatriots attempt to have Benedict arrested, holding him responsible for this behavior in the community that he fails to properly discipline.
They say the Pope is supposed to be infallible. This is ludicrous. Christianity, in all of its forms, has long stated that only God and Christ were infallible. The Pope is neither a deity nor a Messiah. Benedict, the erstwhile Joseph Alois Ratzinger of Bavaria, is well-known as a former member of the Hitler Youth and has been accused, during his half-decade tenure as head of the Catholic Church, of homophobia and Islamophobia.
To Live Like Common People Do: In recent years, Codename V has become inspiration for real-life protesters.
Always claiming that such accusations come from comments taken out of context (as if association with Nazi ideology can ever be taken out of context in Vonnegut novels, let alone reality), the Pope has been compared, over the years, to such devious fictional villains as Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter and George Lucas’ Emperor Palpatine. If one takes into account the perpetual downslide of the Catholic Church’s conduct since the passing of Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, there’s a far scarier, far more accurate comparison between fact and fiction. Whereas Benedict’s “evil” demeanor and physical appearance were what drew the comparisons to Lecter and Palpatine, his actions and silent consent of various evils committed the world over brings another group of characters to mind.
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, serialized in the mid-to-late 1980s, was heavily inspired by the bigoted, sociopathic rule of England’s concurrent Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The comic told the story of V, a masked insurgent who attempted to bring down a dystopian future England’s totalitarian government. This was a government headed by such monsters as the insane Chancellor Adam Susan and pedophilic head of the Church of England Archbishop Anthony Lilliman, both of whom were involved in a Holocaust-like cleansing of undesirables at the Larkhill Detention Center years earlier. But for these men, wiping out the political dissidents, blacks, homosexuals, Muslims, et al, was not enough to create their perfect world. Instead, they required absolute control over all they surveyed, and with their absolute control came total absolution: infallibility.
Adam Susan is more or less a figurehead in Lloyd’s work, whose underlings do as they are asked much like any secret police force would. Arguably, one of the most vile but most prophetic characters in the series is Lilliman. At Larkhill, he was paid handsomely to essentially not do his job, which was to ensure that all prisoners receive proper treatment, echoing the Bush Administration’s Military Commissions Act of 2006. Eventually, he becomes a high-ranking church official who molests underage girls with alarming frequency. When V’s protégé, Evey Hammond, poses as one of his “dates”, she force-feeds him a communion wafer laced with cyanide, killing him.
But I digress. What does this have to do with Pope Benedict and the ruination of the lives of 200 deaf children, as well as countless others?
The truth is, everything. It has everything to do with it.
If one feels this case is overstated, that is their prerogative. They should, however, keep in mind that words, thoughts and beliefs are just as damning as actions, and stories and morality plays just as critical as reality. If fiction holds up a mirror to nature and forces it to look at its own inherent ugliness, then V for Vendetta holds a mirror up to today from twenty-five years ago.
NEXT WEEK: An examination of celebrity depression in comics in the era of TMZ in “Bird on a Wire.”
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