V and American Politics

While attending a conference in North Carolina, and staying in the same room Yogi Berra did (though not on the same night), Joe Sterns and I caught the premier of the TV Series “V”. We also caught a bit of the 1983 V mini-series on SyFy; we were both big fans, though Matt Brouillette was unimpressed with the acting and effects.

The connections with contemporary politics – and particularly Barack Obama and his administration – were pretty obvious. The aliens/”visitors” come and provide “hope” to the world, with almost a messianic adoration by many. The visitors refuse to give the media access if they don’t offer positive coverage. And the visitors promise “universal health care” (though they actually mean healing the sick with their superior technology, rather than a low-quality insurance plan).

Of course, V (at least the original), is rooted more directly in historical Fascism, especially borrowing from the Nazis. They symbols used bear resemblance to the swastika, they have an intense youth recruiting program, and they engage in mass murder.

This is my major problem with V – at least as allegory. (The same is true of another of my favorite movies, also with V in the title, V for Vendetta). What if the aliens weren’t lizards? What if they weren’t trying to capture humans to use for meat? What if they weren’t quite so evil – or even simply well-intentioned? (What if the government of V for Vendetta hadn’t murdered hundreds of thousands of citizens?) Would the resistance be as clearly heroic, and the visitors so clearly villains?

That is, would the audience identify as clearly with the freedom fighters if the aliens were just run-of-the-mill Fascists?