2-16. Why Guy Fawkes?

There’s a reason why you see Guy Fawkes masks everywhere, and that’s quite simply: the movie V For Vendetta. In the film, the maskswere used as a sign of opposition to the government—which makes a lot of sense, since Guy Fawkes—who preferred his nom de guerre Guido Fawkes—literally tried to blow up the British government in the Gunpowder Plot.He was captured, tortured, and committed suicide moments before his scheduled execution. Annually, on Guy Fawkes day, his effigy was burned in public, complete with the now famous mask. This was largely an anti-Catholic celebration, and though it continues today in an abated form, it’s original meaning has been for the most part lost. In recent years, the loose hacker group Anonymous has adopted the mask as their uniform, and it’s a popular Halloween costume.

But was Guy or Guido a hero of the people, trying to throw off the chains of a repressive government? The answer can only be “yes” if you’re Catholic and a fan of the brutal form of Catholicism practiced by Spain in the early 17th century. Fawkes was one of 13 conspirators trying to overthrow the British government so that a Catholic monarch could be installed. He was literally trying to replace one repressive government with another, not exactly what we see in V for Vendetta, or what the goals of Anonymous are described as.

Knowing these details gives the mask a whole new meaning: if you beat the government, what fills the gap?

Next time we’ll enjoy a cup of Boston Harbor Tea.

Guido Fawkes, Catholic Extremist Terrorist

Guido Fawkes, Catholic Extremist Terrorist

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