Looking behind the mask of Anonymous

William Wright, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 6, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

‘Doah photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the world of entertainment there are symbols that have become so well-known they are recognizable outside their chosen mediums — such as Superman’s S, Alex DeLarge’s bowler hat, Jason Voorhees’s hockey mask, and Holly Golightly’s black dress and cigarette holder. But, few of these symbols really reach anything beyond that.

However, in recent years a new image has gained as much importance and visual power as the peace sign, the power fist or a burnt flag. While it is still too early to see if the Guy Fawkes mask will remain in this company, its current influence is something to take note. Modeled after Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot in London in 1605, the mask is now more commonly associated with modern pop culture due to its use in the 1980s comic book “V for Vendetta” written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd.

I own a plastic replica of the mask. I bought it for the same reason someone would buy something with the classic cover of “The Great Gatsby” on it. I love the comic and I enjoy the film version. I love the speeches, the world that is created in the story and the ideas about why people do the things they do.

In my room, I have it thumb tacked to the wall and I think it makes a cool wall decoration. Last year, my roommate and I had an issue where he kept taking it down. He said that he had done so because he was worried about people seeing it when he would video chat, and them feeling uncomfortable. I was confused and surprised by this at first, but after thinking about it, I can see why someone might be bothered by the mask.

It has come to be synonymous with rebellion. We have seen people wearing the mask in various protests everywhere, including the Occupy Wall Street movement. Famous political figures like Julian Assange and Jello Biafra have used the image for their own means. The famous Internet group Anonymous has now taken the image as their own, and use it heavily in their videos and protests.

Moore has stated in many articles that he enjoys the fact that his character has become this symbol of rebellion, but he has also found humor in the fact that Time Warner has copyright on the image that is used to fight corporate influences. In a 2011 BBC News article, Lloyd said, “The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny — and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way.”

Only time will tell what the defining message of this mask will be, something I personally can’t wait to see.

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