I'm sitting in my living room at around two in the morning. Earlier I saw the film V for Vendetta and I find myself stuck deciding if I liked it or if I thought it was horrible. My initial feeling was disappointment, as I expected a comic book movie with a lot of action-instead I got a story about a dictatorship and a supposed terrorist's attempt to take down the tyrannical state. There are several different ways to view this film and I have chosen to look at how this film strays from the average super hero structure, and reveals a film with something to say of the practice of nonviolence.

V as a Superhero

V follows the typical comic book structure of a hero: born of a traumatic event, doesn't fit in with society, and has extraordinary strength and intelligence. While V is proven to be strong and skilled with his knives, he is more like a mastermind villain. Meaning, he uses more strategy than sheer muscle power. In fact, his plan to bring the revolution does not come from the power of his blades but the depth of his thought out plan. This plan further leaves the general comic book structure because V's plan will only work through the power of numbers. The normal structure lets the hero take all the credit: the X-Men stop Magneto's plan to kill normal humans or Daredevil takes down King Pin on his own. But acknowledges that he and his actions are but mere symbols of something bigger.

Revenge or Justice

As the film progresses, it is clear that V is motivated by revenge. There is no need to kill anyone when he breaks into the broadcast network. From a prior seen, he shows that he can take down several characters without killing them, but here he kills them. This would prove more in line with his vengeance than a true call for justice. But the line between justice and revenge is later discovered. In the end, V acknowledges his own vengeance and realizes that his individual desire cannot decide the fate of this revolution, thus he tells Evey (Natalie Portman) that she must have the final say. This shows that the world of this film condemns the use of violence. By this I mean that in the fictional creation of this tyrannical London of the future, whatever forces run it (call them God or general morality) condemn V's use of violence as either selfish or excessive. What does work is V's original plan to unite the people with a common goal.

Symbolism & the Power of Numbers

What makes this film so interesting is the way in which the revolution comes. V finds a medium to reach everyone (his news broadcast). He plants the seed of revolution. He tells everyone to join together on a specific day (the fifth of November, the following year). The people come together and march against the soldiers of the tyrannical state, and they do so unarmed and ready to die. Thus, this film further leaves the commonly held ideas of the modern hero saving the day by him or herself. As the people stand against the soldiers, they all do so dressed in costumes to look just like V. This shows that V is not one man but everyone. No one person can bring about change, for true justice to come it must be a communal affair. This goes against modern individualism, which floods this culture, and is shown through the average film as well.

This film offers a powerful statement about bringing change in a nonviolent way. The vengeance that runs V actually takes away from his ultimate goal. This is emphasized by what Evey says to V (condemning his plot of revenge). The destruction of the parliament building could be seen as violent but it didn't kill anyone. It symbolized the fall of one government and the rise of a new era. In the end, the tyrannical leader Adam Sutler (John Hurt) is killed because of V's plot. While V's motives were revenge, this begs me to wonder about comparisons to Hitler. Even the pacifist Dietrich Bonhoeffer found joining an assassination plot against Hitler to be an exception to what he believed-though he would say that it was still a sin, but not doing it was a greater sin.

It would be easy for me to brush off this film but I can't. This may prove to be a tragic statement, but V for Vendetta may offer more insight into bringing change in a nonviolent way than most other films. At least the violence in this film is condemned as either selfish (used for revenge) or used to gain power (government murders and militant control). But the power of numbers to bring change is emphasized. This is what makes this movie so powerful. And this is why many of us won't appreciate it. In a culture of independent consumers who so desperately want to reach the "American Dream" alone, this movie shows us how dependent we are on each other. I acknowledge that there are holes in character development and the general plotline. Further, there was minimal action sequences-though this proved that the revolution would not come through the violence of a gun or knife, but through the strength of the population joining together against the powers that be. With this all said, I am willing to give this movie a little slack for its attempt to question the norms of the average Hollywood worldview.

American Worship pt. I

Posted by Tim Posada On 1:12 PM 0 comments
The modern-day church is failing. And I say this with as much optimism as I can. I once heard someone say that there are so many Christians turned off to the church, just imagine how much greater that number is among non-Christians. Worship music is among the many categories that are failing. Postmodernity is an arguable idea, but many agree that postmodernity says one thing: modernity is dead.

Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Darrel Evans, David Crowder, Jeremy Camp, Tommy Walker, and assorted organizations are the leaders of contemporary worship. Many are excited by these names, but an important question needs answering. Why have they formed their own genre? Worship music is no longer simply defined by the lyrics but now has a specific sound. This sound can be described as a step above of what is heard on contemporary Christian music stations: distortion is more noticeable, drums can dynamically press forward, and the bass can catch a groove. But with the exception of David Crowder, singers must have clean, inoffensive voices. By nature, worship music is simplistic due to the massive amount of songs many worship leaders need to learn—only Tommy Walker and Delirious have left this simplified format—to a dagree. From a musical standpoint, worship is still behind. Even the most updated worship band is still five years behind current music trends—minus San Diego-based Something Like Silas who have found a genre home with the post-emo crowd.

Sad fact: If worship leaders were not playing worship music, they would be out of a job. We are now back to the ancient argument of “Christian bands” or “Christians in a band.” What I mean by this is simple, should we be supporting mediocre music because a Christian made it. My initial answer would be no, because I hold to Madeline L’Engle’s concept that there are only two types of art: good art and bad art, and bad art is bad religion. Thus, do we really need more people badly representing the name of God? Many Christians will say they like the sound of worship music. I do not deny that, but I would further argue that their preference to this particular style of music has been socially constructed. Here is a simplified example: Eric was scolded for listening to secular music when he was in junior high. In fact, his parents made him stop listening to secular music and started making him listen to Christian music. He was forced to listen to so much Christian music that he got used to it as a genre (the recording styles, song structure, guitar effects, lyric formation), and forgot about earlier comparisons to mainstream trends that might have existed in his head. Another example: A young girl goes to church from a very young age where the only progressive songs played are “Lord, I lift your name on high” or “Shout to the Lord.” Then someone brings in new songs from Matt Redman. Redman’s music was years ahead of her normal dose of ‘80s worship. But 5-10 years ahead of her such a trend is still another 5-10 behind. These two examples prove an important point about Christian culture. First, a fear of changing with the times sets churches back several years and claims that any modern change is a sinful compromise. In looking at modern worship this way, it could be easy for any of the popular worship leaders to simply exploit the church music scene because it only has “up” to go.

This is only the music. I haven’t even started on the lyrical portion of songs, but that will be enough for today as I do not want to allow my pessimism to completely take over.