Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 18:04:14 -0400

Okay. Some additional thoughts, in continuance of the V/hero/change subject you left off with. (Sorry for the delay...)

If you recall, you wrote about the necessity for heroes to die, or pass on, or change in some way (like Robin Hood or even Batman). And you made the excellent point that it is you and I and the followers of such heroes who bemoan their demises more than the hero him- or herself. Quite true.

As finite beings (at least in corporeal reality), we tend to loathe the idea of death, of termination. No need to explain. I can bet that 99% of humans fear the Great Divide... So, we tend to do one of two things with our heroic lore, legends, and fantasies: 1) either perpetuate the exploits of said hero ad nauseum (the ole serial adventures thing---like Spidey or the X-Men, etc.), or 2) we force the seemingly unnatural situation of their inevitable end (through death or age)---an end we all seem to fear and avoid and dream of conquering. The first method fondly grasps on to a beloved ideal, refusing to let go. That's why Peter Parker never ages. That's why...even Bart Simpson is always a young, smart-ass brat! The qualities we admire in the hero are so pleasant (in some way or another) that we "keep them alive". The second is more realistic, and therefore more uncomfortable. By telling these types of stories, we admit the universality of disease or age or accident or death---face reality (despite our differing beliefs of spiritual continuation)---and "put our hero through" the grim and ultimate "passing" we all must someday face. From this, we derive good feelings of honor, admiration, and respect for the doomed hero. If only WE could face hardship or demise so bravely! Instead, our hero suffers, while we reap the "second-hand" aplomb. (Similar to how many folks feel proud and say "WE won the game" after the home football team defeats the "enemy".)

This is not to say that such acts of heroism are not possible in reality. History has plentiful evidence of real-life examples. Legend mirrors reality just as reality mirrors legend. We feed our fantasies and ideals, while our fantasy and ideals leak into the material world. Hence, certain qualities become commonly loved: bravery (particularly in the face of death), honesty, kindness, strength, justice. These qualities are embodied in our heroes (in Eastern as well as Western lore), and are emulated by the better men and women of our species.

V, though obviously deranged, is such a hero. Ultimately he seeks justice, kindness, honesty, responsible strength. However, as is typical of the 20th century's fragmentation ("modernism", "secularism", "surrealism", etc.), V is not the shining manifestation of integrity---but more of a honest, flawed, compromised HUMAN. Just as the Greeks and Romans issued human faults and vices to their gods, so Moore has allowed certain "stains" on his hero V. V would be a lousy friend. He would be "open-minded" only so far as his obsessed mission to "restore" or "reshape" society would allow HIM to tolerate. I don't think he would give his own life for Delia, or Creedy, or even Evey if it came down to it. The glory of his death mustn't be impeded by someone or something that "can't hack it". Sure, if they pass the torture test, they earn the favor . . . but . . . (I'm still unable to adequately "peg" V, really.)

Delia tapped into this "honorable" acceptance of termination, I think. She truly believes she deserves death for participating in the awful atrocities at Larkhill. But she's not a hero, because she "bravely" faces her demise only as a matter of guarantee: V will kill her (DID kill her) no matter what. Even if she "wimped out" and begged for mercy and forgiveness (something V does NOT have), she would have died. V offered no choice. He injected her while she slept. Without this crucial choice, Delia really isn't brave or repentant, in the strictest senses of the terms. It's been (5) years since Larkhill shut down---and only now does she consider due consequences.

Finch (her former lover) also offers "too little, too late". He's a smart, even compassionate man, who is, as he says, "alone" in his job (which he hates). But he's not heroic enough to rise above his own prison until he kills V! As if there's too much competition! Instead of thinking, "Delia and I both had our part in what happened. We are guilty. But there's a chance to mend this: not only for ourselves, but for society. For V, even. " If V was more reasonable, and forgiving, Finch might have been able to offer his services to the rebellion. Delia could have as well. But instead, Delia waited for V to kill her---and Finch hunted down V and killed him.

Which takes us to V's death. Was it really heroic? Was V brave or insane? These are questions to consider.

At the end of Miller's Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne, though aged and somewhat jaded, starts over. One gets the impression that he will go on and on until the resistance against crime is large enough for him to confidently pass from life. He's a touchdown runner--unlike V, who is a . . . passer. (Which is not necessarily bad.) Miller gave us a hero who suffered things we fear other than death: age, public disgrace, etc., by the way. . . .

I'm "thinking to paper" here. The sentiments aren't 100% sure. I'm musing again.

Hope that'll stir you up a little for a response. Otherwise, we can move on to a topic of your choosing . . . either way. . . .

Until next time.


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