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A fine film

The new film, V for Vendetta, based on the British comic strip (like so many movies are these days), is an absolute crackerjack of a production, in my view. I watched it last night, having already acquired an outline of what the plot is about from scanning comics over the years, but unlike some transfers from comic to the screen, this film works very well.

It is set in a Britain about 20 or so years from now, a Britain governed by a regime obsessed by managing the citizenry for their own good (sounds familiar), hooked on propoganda and the management of expectations (ditto), scornful of history and traditions (see above), deeply corrupt (recognise anything?) and also quick to resort to violence. Against this is a masked character modelling himself on Guy Fawkes, a character who, in the early 17th Century, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

And that is what exactly is the aim of the character “V” in this film. Now, in an age of justifiable fears about terrorism, my first instinct was to recoil at the plot, but in fact if you read this film on a certain level, it is great propoganda against overmighty, corrupt authority, and a celebration of freedom, rather than the sort of totalitarian agenda espoused by the likes of radical Islamists in our own day. It may not be an explicitly libertarian film, but it is unquestionably an anti-authortarian one.

Also, any film that contains the following line has to be a must-see for Samizdata regulars:

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Not bad, not bad at all.

UPDATE: Objectivist writer Bob Bidinotto, a man who is a fine judge of films, dissents from my positive take on the movie, at least as far as this comment suggests. I agree that this is a flawed film – some of its points are a bit silly – but its overall message is about the need to keep vigilant against the abuse of power, something that a citizen living in a country framed by Jefferson, Madison and Adams would surely understand. Remember, the Founding Fathers were all thought of as subversive pains in the ass in their day. http://bidinotto.journalspace.com/?entryid=364

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33 comments to A fine film

  • fred_says

    ‘Absolute crackerjack’ is equivalent to five stars I take it?
    Dumb it down for us Americans, would you?

  • Johnathan

    fred, “crackerjack” is a term of praise. BTW, I write with a broad audience in mind, so excuse my Britishisms old bean!

  • Julian Taylor

    Better quote, IMO, was:

    Evey: Are you a Muslim, Deitrich?
    Deitrich: No, I’m in television.

    The only downside to the movie was that while they managed to include Avian Flu as a ‘panic measure’, they unfortunately couldn’t get completely up to date since everyone drove around in Rover cars.

  • David H

    ‘a celebration of freedom, rather than the sort of totalitarian agenda espoused by the likes of radical Islamists’

    ***Possible Spoilers***

    One of the film’s many flaws was that yet again the Muslims were portrayed as victims. First of all, ‘The Voice of England’ boasts as to how they (the Muslims) had to be cleared out of the country then we have Stephen Fry hanged for posessing a copy of the Koran – a proscribed text. For me the film definitely came from the Left – England’s slide into authoritarianism, for example, is dated from the election being won by the Conservatives. There’s also a terrorist incident created specifically by the government in order to crackdown on personal freedoms which sounds like the sort of thing Michael Moore would come out with.

    Still, a very enjoyable film and Natalie Portman does look quite wonderful.

  • Loved it. Ignore the bad reviews.

  • A flawed and yet entirely enjoyable flick IMO

  • Mike Lorrey

    Yeah, the reviewers are all dumping and condemning the film as an apologia for the islamists. They would have done better to have left the issue out and made islamism a patsy.

    But you can’t expect reviewers to even get history right: Hitler won election because of fear of the very real threat of communist groups launching revolution (just as the first Reichsgeletsblatt was passed as a result of commie and brownshirts gangs fighting in the streets in the 20s). The fact that most members of German communist groups were jewish just made it easier for the Nazis to go after communism via a shotgun strategy, after all, they figured it was easy to tell who was jewish, but not so easy to tell who was communist.

    The problem we have today is this absurd alliance between the radical left in the west and the radical right in the muslim world. Bush/Blair et al logically conclude that it doesn’t matter which you are: if you are opposed to their war you must be one or the other. Libertarians are such a small percent of the population that destruction of individual liberties is considered collateral damage that everyone else is willing to accept so long as enough of the victims are classifiable as ‘bad guys’.

    I am, however, heartened by the public support for Charlie Sheen’s questioning the gov’t story on 9/11. No matter whether he’s just a Hollywood left loony like his dad, getting 80+ percent poll results supporting him is encouraging.

  • The Last Toryboy

    If you liked the movie you’d like the graphic novel even better. I’ve not seen the movie but I know those who have and read reviews, all of which say that the anarchistic politics, dubious morality and ambiguous nature of V has all been toned for the movie.

    As I understand it the anarchist overtones in the novel have been pretty much thrown out completely.

  • Good stuff, Patrick.

    Thanks for the mention. It’s an honor to be mentioned on your site.

  • The movie is a sham. It is chock-full of glaringly obvious plot holes, convenient, lazy plot twists and is a poor modernisation of the comic. It fails horribly as an adaptation, essentially castrating it of its truly intelligent themes, such as the question of anarchy over fascism and V’s moral ambiguity, as mentioned above. I’m surprised you didn’t notice them.

    As a movie, it’s Hollywoodian pap with boring Wachowski (I know it’s directed by their protégé, but it’s essentially exactly the same thing) directorial methods, catering to the lowest common denominator of rebelliousness (Sit in front of this cinema screen, and you too can convince yourself you’re actually subversive for a full 2 hours!) and is an exercise in emotional manipulation. You’re not far off at all describing it as propaganda. Now, you may feel that such counter-propaganda may be required in this day and age (Though I sincerely hope not, for your intellectual honesty’s sake), but ultimately, it’s a disservice to all ideologies involved.

    Believe me, as a libertarian, you’d find the graphic novel far more rewarding, both intellectually and artistically. The comic actually talks about fascism vs. anarchy, rather than this thinly-veiled liberals vs. neo-cons idiot-fest which makes Fahrenheit 9/11 look subtle.

    That said, I enjoyed Hugo Weaving’s performance immensely. It’s just a shame he had such horrible lines and scenes to work with, not to mention Natalie Portman who, bless her heart, despite her strongest efforts to do so, fails to entirely sabotage the feature with her characteristically shoddy acting.

  • Josh

    It was entertainingly goofy, but I wouldn’t recommend paying to see it in a theater.

    Interesting thing I noticed when I paused the file on the movie’s election pie chart…

    England’s slide into authoritarianism, for example, is dated from the election being won by the Conservatives.

    The voice over says that the main villain dictator is conservative, but a news report pie chart displayed in the movie (for a second and a half) shows the political breakdown as being something like 8% liberal, far less of a “conservative” wedge and then a giant black pie section labeled as “norsefire” (the made up party of the bad guys, or perhaps just what Brits call the Independent party).

    I actually expected a lot of the movie to be one long anti-Bush rant combined with a tiny amount of action scenes. That ranting was somewhat rare, there was one reference to “America’s war” ruining the world or something, and then a banned painting of a swastika over the American and British flags. I was right about the action scenes.

    A lot of the movie’s message is about how a government being allowed to take power is bad, but it seems a lot of Hollywood liberals think their side is blameless.

  • Mr. Still Don't Like It, Sorry

    Norsefire is the name of the fascist party which rises to power in the UK within the context of the story.

    The anti-Bush message was clear, simple-minded and obvious; They even show a poster directly addressing him in the riot footage. There was very little that had to do with Britain, represented by two families and a pub.

    The ending was the most ridiculous aspect of the film: By symbolically ressurecting everyone, who hide behind masks somehow distributed to them by V, which makes zilch sense, they basically eliminate causality and responsibility. The ethical validity of V’s methods, which does lead to innocents getting killed (Or simply just shot, in the movie, because he’s a good guy by default and we have to take his side absolutely), as well as the methods of the state, but even the responsibility of the British public which lead to this fascist rise to power, all of them are irrelevant, thanks to the ending. No-one is any longer at fault for the rise of the evil regime, how very liberal.
    Besides, the notion that somehow leaderless, armed and confused soldiers, would NOT open fire on a faceless, angry, scaling mass whose intentions are not transparent is laughable.

    The only truly interesting scene in that instance was the shop hold-up, but even then, they turned it into a farce, a piece of comic relief, and failed to truly show the other side of anarchy, something not even Alan Moore, despite his idealism, failed to point out it in the original graphic novel. And then they made it even more ridiculous with a “ANARCHY IN THE UK”. Honestly, how little do they know of the English?

  • I wonder if it really matters whether or not the government they are bashing are conservative or labour. After all, both sides are just different flavours of statist regulatory scum, are they not?

  • guy herbert

    If it is an absolute crackerjack then shouldn’t it get 5 pencils, not 5 stars?

    I will go to see it. Meantime we should recall that the comic book, for all its virtues, also sprung from some pretty naive leftism – Moore’s anger at the Thatcher administration. But of course they will have toned down the transcendent ambiguity. I do not expect to see the scene where V explicitly rejects justice in favour of anarchy. There will be gooder goodies.

    Setting a crude police state and its corrupt brutal officials as V’s enemies is also the too easy route taken by Moore. It’s the dictatorship of decent people, doing their best, that frightens me more.

    I’d differ from commentators above who think that making Muslims a feature of the plot in the film is a mistake. Homosexuals and socialists were the prime victims in the book; and it doesn’t seem to me that Muslims becoming the proscribed folk-enemy of a fascist British state is all that implausible. Particularly one that thinks of itself as socialist.

  • Julian Taylor

    The ending was the most ridiculous aspect of the film: By symbolically ressurecting everyone, who hide behind masks somehow distributed to them by V, which makes zilch sense, they basically eliminate causality and responsibility.

    I rather think you missed the whole point of that scene. When Finch asks Evey “Who was he?” her reply is that he is us all and having everyone dressed in the same clothing and mask symbolises that uniformity. Again I didn’t see more than one or two references to Muslims, most notably in Dietrichs secret room where a Koran is displayed alongside Robert Mapplethorpe pictures. Far more emphasis was placed upon the detention and torture of homosexuals, most notably in Valerie’s tale.

    I’m afraid that I tend to agree with the opinion of some commentaries I have read that the reason for a lot of the negative reviews was the peevishness of some that either it was not set in the USA or that the US is portrayed as a weak, and now plague-stricken, land. Other far sillier reviews compare V for Vendetta with being an apologist for the 9/11 terrorists, claiming that since V is a terrorist then the Wachowski brothers must themselves be supporters of terrorism. Such reviews richly deserve the derision poured upon them.

  • Mr. What?

    Oh, sorry, I missed that point. I mean, they only went on and on about how V represented all of us throughout the entirety of the movie. We wouldn’t want the mouth-breathing audience to miss it.

    Regardless of its intent, the scene was ridiculous. You still have Dietrich, who incidentally manages to keep a major position in public entertainment despite collecting subversive works, originals at that, being a Muslim sympathiser and a hardcore homosexual then throws it all away in one stroke (With Yakety Sax in the background, Jesus Christ), the girl with the glasses and so on, brought back to life. Which makes the consequence of actions beforehand moot.

    Besides that, how Codename V manages to distribute masks to the entire population of Britain is hardly explained. It’s inconceivable he’d have those kind of resources available to him.

    I haven’t read any of those sorts of reviews, but they sound sufficiently clueless and Americano-centric (peculiar, considering it’s practically made for an American audience).

    And its overall message, as the original entry brings up now, still isn’t worth it on the whole. There’s just too much pap and pseudo-intellectual pretense behind the rest of it.

    Oh yes, and they completely misunderstood the November rhyme.

    Honestly, just read the book if you must deal with V paraphernalia.

  • I found this movie kind of irritating, I will confess. The reasons are much the same as have been brought up already.

    Basically, there was a specific reference at one point to “America’s War” having caused all the problems, and one of the bad guys was having described as serving in “Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Sudan” (or a very similar list of countries), and this was sort of seen as an automatic black point against him. And it was revealed in the movie that rather than being caused by “religious fanatics” (as the official story had been), the virus that had killed people and had led to the ultimate application of martial law in the UK was in fact released by the bad guys as a sort of Reichstag fire episode the seize power. It didn’t precisely say who the “religious fanatics” in question were, but it mentioned that Muslims (along with homosexuals) had been killed and expelled when the authoritarians took over, and we had this business in which the Stephen Fry character (himself homosexual) keeps a copy of the Koran and is executed for having it, and when asked why he has it but is not a Muslim, he says something about how he “can still appreciate its beauty”. It’s not said precisely, but the clear message is that the authoritarian rule grew out of the current war, and grew because the current war is being fought.

    However, the High Chancellor/Big Brother character is explicitly described as being of the “Conservative Party”. Although the present Labour government is the most authoritarian in living memory, the luvvies who made the movie could not bring themselves to have the authoritarian rule of Britain come from the left. Given that the present labour government is the most authoritarian within living memory, I think they may be allowing their hatred of conservatives to get the better of them. (I hate conservatives too, but I think this is going a bit far).

    On the other hand, the “governments should be afraid of their people” stuff was good. Also, I did like the fact that the High Chancellor/Big Brother character, John Hurt appeared to be channelling David Blunkett, and I will confess I found the land clearance at the end of the movie to allow the Victoria Embankment and the Chelsea Embankment to be joined in order to improve London’s traffic flow to be weirdly exhilarating. If anything the movie felt like it had something sounder underneath, and the script writers had rather superficially grafted their tiresome politics on top of it.

    I do believe that Alan Moore (who wrote the graphic novel it was based on) disowned it, so I must look up the original and see what came from him and what came from the film-makers. (Of course, Moore has disowned both other movies based on his work as well. In the case of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (which was an unspeakably bad movie based on wonderful source material) I fully sympathise, although I am not sure he was quite so right to do so in the case of From Hell which was an at least decent movie).

  • Johnathan

    Mr What? makes some good points about some of the dafter aspects of the film, points I am happy to concede, but to bash a film like this for lacking realism is a bit strange, since much art involves the willing suspension of disbelief. I don’t think anyone watches a movie like V for Vendetta and thinks they are going to watch a realistic documentary.

  • James

    If it is an absolute crackerjack then shouldn’t it get 5 pencils, not 5 stars?

    Guy, you’ve just lost the Americans again 🙂

  • It was an okay film. There were areas where departures from Moore’s original story actually improved the results, papering over several deficiencies that marred an otherwise very good graphic novel — I particularly preferred Evey’s reaction to torture in the film to the Stockholm Syndrome That Dares Not Speak Its Name in the book.

    One change that did disturb me, however: In the original graphic novel, Jews were among those sent to extermination camps, yet they aren’t mentioned once as being victims in the film. Were the filmmakers trying to imply that the Fascists liked Jews, then?

  • The Last Toryboy

    I’m not sure about this but I /think/ in the graphic novel. Norsefire was supposed to grow out of the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. 😉

  • Nick

    I can’t remember which is grows out of the comic, but given that the rise of the fascist party was represented as a sudden-demagogue preaching change to the people, it makes sense for it to rise from the party that isn’t in power now.

    [I toowould have liked to see a reference to Jewish victims, though it’s realistic for there to be Muslim ones; both should have been mentioned]

  • Julian Taylor

    Not having read Moore’s original can someone tell me what happened to the Muslims there, if anything, and especially what happened to the Irish, since in the movie Creedy tells Finch, “terrible what we did to Ireland”?

    I did feel that a lot of the film had been ‘adjusted’, for want of a better word, to reflect current fears and hysteria – using Avian flu for example to scare and control the population, more terrorist outbreaks etc. – but this film did not compare at all for sheer bureacucratic menace to Brazil, much of which it seemed to reference.

  • Paul Marks

    It was an interesting film.

    It made all the normal “liberal” left nods – for example the “High Chancellor” was a “Conservative party politician”, homosexuals were good and Muslims were good (no seeing any tension there) whereas Christians were bad (the High Chancellor was a “religious man” and his slogan was “unity through faith” – with a cross and such) and the film ended with the voices of various radicals (such as Malcolm X is his antiwhite period).

    However, I liked the film.

    The leftist nodding did not alter the fact that nobody was going to watch the film and say “ah we need more government spending and regulations” (rather the opposite).

    Under the cover of the normal knee jerk Hollywood leftist messsage, a very different message was being given. The messagewas that government (including elected government – the High Chancellor’s party had been elected to office) could not be trusted, and that “people should not fear their governments, governments should fear their people”.

    And, besides, the film was entertaining – which is what a film is supposed to be.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Taylor wanted to know about the original graphic novel.

    Well it was well written and well drawn, however the story was nothing much.

    Evil Americans create atomic war which messes up the world (for example there is nuclear winter).

    However, Britian wisely elected a Labour government before the war and thus stayed out of the evil Americans war (so at least it does not get nuked).

    However (another “However”) evil big business takes advantage of the chaos to overthrow good Labour party government and help set up Nazi state – which kills nonwhite people, homosexuals and so on (and has old people killed as well – a burden you see).

    Start of our story – noble V. struggles against Nazi state.

    There is also a subplot with a top security man – he dies early on, his wife becomes the mistress of a nasty criminal (who also dies), then ends up in an entertainment (of sorts) – and then this lady shoots the dictator (he did not grant her a pension when her husband died – and the regime had shown no concern for her).

    The graphic novel had its points – but I do not think it was better than the film.

    It was not a matter of noble libertarian graphic novel messed up by Hollywood.

    It is true that the graphic novel leaves the country in chaos – rather than having an almost peaceful downfall of the regime.

    But I do not think that chaos shown at the end of the graphic novel (endless riots, robbery, rape etc) is much to be praised.

    Softhearted man that I am, I liked the Hollywood ending better.

  • Nick

    Alan Moore, who wrote the comic in 1983 I think, said he imagined that the Tories would lose the next election, then the Labour government would leave NATO, ditch all their nuclear weapons and avoid being a target in the nuclear holocaust that would soon follow. The terrible drop in living standards would create the conditions for Norsefire to take power, a Nazi-type party with an ex-Chief Constable leader. I don’t claim to know about Moore’s politocs, (and I think he’s most interested in being a wizard at this point in time) but in the book his stance is basically anti-authoritarian.

    Paul Marks – I’d like to understand how suggesting that gay people shouldn’t be murdered just because they’re gay is a “liberal” left nod. I’d say that it was pretty liberal, without scare quotes.

  • CRL

    I actually expected a lot of the movie to be one long anti-Bush rant

    You mean it wasn’t?

    Jews were among those sent to extermination camps, yet they aren’t mentioned once as being victims in the film. Were the filmmakers trying to imply that the Fascists liked Jews, then?

    Yeah, that sort of stood out, didn’t it?

    I’ll disclaim here that if I hadn’t been dumb enough to go out and buy and read the graphic novel a week before seeing the film, I would have probably liked the film. I mean that.

    But I did, and so I didn’t.

    I was annoyed by the editing down of the list of government victims from all undesirable races, religions and creeds to just Muslims and gays. On that note, Stephen Fry’s entire role was superfluous, only serving to reiterate points far better and more movingly illustrated by the prison flashback-letter. (I also have issues, in light of the city I’m — and times we’re — living in, with large explosions being deployed in defense of Islam, if it’s not too politically incorrect to say so. A less-narrow focus might have helped.)

    I resent them turning V from a mentor to a BOYFRIEND. (Jeeze lordy. Why must they slap a love story on everything???)

    And I really really resent this constant portrayal in fiction that makes people thing that you can have a protest — stand up with a sign for a couple of hours in a public place and then go home to watch DVDs like your civic duty is all done — and then everything is going to be fine. If you have a dictatorship? An actual dictatorship? And you have a protest, but you, say, throw an egg or break a barrier? It’s not going to rally the populace. You’re not going to WIN. It’s going to get you branded as a rioter, it’s going to get your protest dismissed as a RIOT, and then the government gunmen are going to PUT. YOU. DOWN.

    (‘member Tiannenmen?????)

    And the ONLY way that can even remotely work in your favor is if you have a free press, or the semblance of one, which — hello, dictatorship?!?

    So for this movie to postulate that 1) it’s accurately portraying total fascism (I disagree) and that a fascist dictatorship can be overthrown Spartacus-style by the people simply rising up and — this is the important bit — STANDING THERE — well, I find that not only disingenuous but dangerous. Everyone congregates in Trafalgar Square and Picadilly, and suddenly it’s all over. Happy happy joy!

    Give me Tyler Durden any day.

    Read the graphic novel — and for the love of all things righteous somebody give Natalie Portman a damn sandwich.

    (I will say though, Hugo Weaving was fantastic.)

  • CRL

    My post got eaten. I input the correct code twice, I though. Have I done something wrong?

  • Shawn

    Saw it. Hated it. A very sick film that justifies terrorism against conservatives and Christians and portrays gays and Muslims as their victims. Puhleeease.

    In an age when terrorists increasingly target both the West and Christians in general making a film like this was monumentally stupid.

    Many of the comments above confirm my view that when it comes to the defense of the West libertarians are not only useless they are happy to jump into bed with the Wests enemies so long as someone chants their adolescent mantras about the State not being our friend.

  • Paul Marks

    Nick – of course I agree with Hollywood on many things (the world is not flat, one plus one makes two, humanity was not created in 4004 B.C., and so on).

    But I think you know that there are certain attitudes one has to have in Hollywood – as a nod, not because one believes them.

    As for the scare quotes round “liberal”.

    They are there because we have been here before.

    “Are you in favour of Civil Rights or are you in favour of the K.K.K. murdering black people?”

    I am in favour of Civil Rights.

    “Good, so you have signed up in support of positive discrimination – so make way for that black person who is less qualified for the job than you are, but we are going to insist gets the job anyway”.

    We went from Jim Crow laws (laws forbidding trading with and employing blacks in various ways) to the “antidiscrimination” laws (starting, at the Federal level, back in 1964) saying that private places (such as shops or workshops) were “public places” and it was the government’s role to tell people who they should employ or trade with.

    And, of course, the civil law has evolved so one must “prove one’s innocence”.

    “I do not discriminate”.

    “But the percentage of black people in this area is 10% and only 9% of your staff are black, so you are guilty – that will be a zillion Dollars in damages”.

    Are you saying that that the Hollywood position is NOT “civil rights” for Gay people?

    In which case it is “liberal” not liberal.

    Also that is that little problem of having to be pro Gay and pro Muslim at the same time.

    Not a problem if it just means – do not kill Muslims and do not kill Gays.

    But that is not all it means. We must “respect” (i.e. support) these “cultural groups”.

    No doubt Islam can be rewritten Hollywood style – but most Muslims are not going to accept the rewrite (what they would do to the Gays of Hollywood is not very nice).

    Only a day or so ago I was listening to B.B.C. radio show which was saying how Islam was a tolerant non aggressive religion.

    On the table in front of me were two books. One by Churchill written in the late 19th century, and one by Smuts written in 1930.

    Both men wrote about their experience of the expansion of Islam in Africa.

    I know who I believe – and it is not the B.B.C.

  • Enjoyed watching the film and plan to see it again to catch missed visual ques.

    As already noted, an upsetting omission was the film’s failure to assign any blame to statists on the left for the creation of the future distopia.

    Some balance might have been accomplished had the raving pill popping Rush Limbaugh character been replaced by an appropriate shill for the state from the left. A reference to future global cooling would have been a good jab towards balance as well.

  • A different Nick from the last one

    But I think you know that there are certain attitudes one has to have in Hollywood – as a nod, not because one believes them.

    Hollywood is a business – whatever attitudes it puts forth will have that as their true source.

  • Andrew Milner

    Saw The Road to Guantanamo at the Press Club in Tokyo last Wednesday (26 April). First “official” screening in Japan. Gather you’ve already seen it on Channel 4 in UK.
    Looks like the mainstream media and entertainment industry are really starting to grow a backbone. And thanks a million Luton and Bedfordshite Police: Money just couldn’t buy that type of free publicity. You make a movie about brutality and Gestapo UK detain and abuse you under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Brilliant. Those actors must have thought they were back in character. “Did you become an actor to support Islamic terrorism?” Did you join the police because you got such a kick out of being school bully, Officer Flashman?” I think authority is getting rattled; you only attract flack when you are over the target.
    Was struck by the level of incompetence and xenophobia displayed by US inquisitors and torturers. No wonder they got the Brits (MI5?) in to help with the dialect and cultural differences. And when that female inquisitor didn’t know whether the date on the tape was Day/Month or Month/Day, this truly was the Theatre of the Absurd. No one seemed to grasp the possibility that the camera had been set to the wrong date. But as WC Fields would say: “Never give a sucker an even break and never wise up a chump.” “You were attending a bin Laden rally in Afghanistan in 2000.” “No way, chief. I was in Tipton all year working at Curry’s and visiting the police station once a week, ‘cos, like, I was on probation, wasn’t I.” Seriously, does it really take nearly three years to check out this alibi? Looks like the lunatics have taken over the asylum. For a nation brought up on two-dimensional movies that wouldn’t convince a bright 12-year-old, Americans must be having difficulty in adjusting to their role as “bad guys”. So the best way to cope with this identity crisis is to wear black hats and grow a moustache.