Oppression is defined in dictionaries as the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. We can see every kind of oppression in our lives. In a family, for example, a father may force his daughter to become a doctor just because he wanted so while she wants to become a painter. A man may urge his wife to dress up in the way he wanted; he may not let her wear skinny jeans. These two are just simple examples from our daily life. And governments, as well as people, may exercise power on their people.
Government is a group of people with the authority to govern a country or a political state. In every part of the world, even in the smallest countries, there is a corporation called “government”. To me, an ideal government does care about its citizens and all their wills. The ideal government makes decisions with regard to the laws, it treats every citizen equally. Its first aim is to provide its people with their fundamental rights and make a peaceful environment for them. However, unfortunately, very few governments do these duties.
There are many examples of the governments which use their authority to restrict their citizen’s rights. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women cannot drive cars only because the government thinks it is not appropriate with respect to the religious rules. In Iran, it is forbidden by law to use Facebook or Twitter. And even in our country, Turkey, you may end up in prison only because you wrote something against the government on the internet. As a consequence, the governments may sometimes exceed the limit and use their power in an unfavorable way.
V for Vendetta is a comic book written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. In 2005, the book was adopted to a movie, directed by James McTeigue. The movie is set in the Great Britain in the near future. Under the guise of several terrorist acts, a totalitarian government is elected to Parliament under Chancellor Adam Sutler to save the country from these terrorists. The government eventually becomes cruel, corrupt, and oppressive to the people. Driven by a personal vendetta, a mysterious individual William comes to the forefront to take up the cause of freedom. He wears a mask of Guy Fawkes to cover his face, and changes his name to only V. V takes over the TV station and broadcasts a message to the country condemning the oppressors in Parliament. V invites all the people to join him in one year on Guy Fawkes Night to see him complete what Guy Fawkes couldn’t, blow up Parliament.
In the movie V for Vendetta, people watch TV too much, just like in the book Fahrenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury. They know of what is going on in their country only via TV, and the programs in television are strictly controlled by the government. The government in V for Vendetta is actually a fascist state because it does not have any tolerance to the differences in the society. What is different or unusual is dangerous. Anyone who does not support the government’s policy, or who has different life choices is arrested and even may be sentenced to death.
In the book Fahrenheit 451, there are firemen who burn books. They burn book because books are considered dangerous. In the country, the Fahrenheit 451 set, the people do not enjoy nature, spend time by themselves, think independently, or have meaningful conversations. Reading books and thinking about them, or just thinking itself is classified as a confusing and unnecessary activity. Therefore, anything that guides us to think is forbidden or restricted in the Fahrenheit 451 society. Likewise, in the V for Vendetta, there are secret police. Their duty is to spy for the government and try to capture people who are against the government. The people are being controlled by the leaders of their country to make sure they behave themselves and not try to rebel.
In Fahrenheit 451, the character Beatty explains the reason why books are burned saying that all people want to be happy. Reading and thinking are challenging activities; they push our brain too much. A confused person cannot be happy, so instead of reading books, people prefer watching programs that entertain them. However, this feeling of “happiness” is artificial, because those people live a life even without thinking about the way they live it. Regarding this issue, the character V in the movie V for Vendetta says: “Happiness is a prison, Evey. Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.”
The government in V for Vendetta came to power after a series of wars, famines and diseases. Sometimes TV channels, which are of course under the control of the government, broadcast news about these bad memories. By doing so, they try to give the message: “Without our government these bad incidents would occur again. Be grateful and obedience to your government.” It is one of the policies the government practices, pretending as if everything is alright in the society and threatening them subtly. The other policy is of course violence. The government is a fascist state, which does not avoid torturing its own citizens. However, we all know that in a society where violence and pressure prevails, peace and order cannot be permanent. Regarding this issue, in the movie the character V says: “Equality and freedom are not luxuries to lightly cast aside. Without them, order cannot long endure before approaching depths beyond imagining.”
As I mentioned earlier, the government does not allow for the different ideas, different life choices. It tries to make everyone the same, like the sheep obeying unconditionally. The government’s supporters claim that after this party came to power; peace, prosperity and equality flourished in the society. They use the term “equality”, but they actually mean “being the same.” In Fahrenheit 451, the character Beatty says “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal.” So, we can conclude that not sticking to the status quo is considered inappropriate, even wrong.
I think the movie V for Vendetta would be censored in the fictional world of Fahrenheit 451, because the movie makes people think deeply. In Fahrenheit 451, anything that encourages people to think or question is censored. The character Beatty says “Books don’t say anything. They are fiction, philosophy, argument, but nothing tangible or real. They make you feel lost.” Books are burned, only meaningless programs are shown in TV. People obey rules; say they are “happy”. But they do not even bother to ask what happiness really is. They live recklessly and aimlessly. They do not wonder how it feels reading a book. And thus, they do not have the slightest idea to challenge government and its policy.
Rebellion and fighting against the pressure are the main themes of the movie V for Vendetta. In the film, the main character V tries to awake the public and rally them to fight against the fascist government. He tries to explain how idleness and not fighting for rights cause a government to strip rights and freedom from the public. The people in the Fahrenheit 451 society do not ask for their right to read books, watch programs they wish as well.
V for Vendetta would be censored in Fahrenheit 451 world because this movie encourages critical thinking. Even in our world, real world, people must have thought about their own governments, their own life. They must have asked themselves questions concerning the way they live. How free are we? Are we aware of all the things happening around us? Do we really understand the meaning of our lives deeply? Like the character Faber in Fahrenheit 451 says “Do we have time to think?” Before considering authority or the government, we should ask ourselves these important questions. The people in Fahrenheit 451 live in a way “consume, obey, die.” This kind of life is definitely not worth living.
To sum up, everywhere in the world figures like parents or governments that use force upon us, limit our rights. But the important thing is not to surrender and to demand our rights. Every human has the right to live the way they want to. We all should be able to read every book, movie or song published and to judge them according to our own opinions, not according to an authority’s. And if there is a pressure in question, we should raise our voices and defend our rights. As suggested in the movie V for Vendetta, we should stick together and not be afraid of the government or of any power figure. As we become more silent, the dominant authority tends to put pressure on us. The character V says: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” So do not be afraid of trying to get what is already yours. We only live once, so we should enjoy discovering our lives, our world as much as we can.