Released in 2005, V for Vendetta is a dystopian thriller that has become a pop culture icon, symbolic of the people’s struggle against government oppression. But V for Vendetta is hardly a hero film—it’s morally murky at best with all its brutality. It’s the anarchists’ Phantom of the Opera, inspired by Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, a failed assassination attempt in England in 1605 that was orchestrated by a group of persecuted Catholics who wanted to blow up the House of Lords. Fawkes might be remembered in history as a villain, but V for Vendetta paints him and those he inspired, like the masked anarchist V, as the morally questionable hero in an immoral world.
There are times fiction mirrors reality, and there are times reality mirrors fiction. V for Vendetta is one of those films that we might as well say was a documentary for all its insane predictions. Set in an undated dystopian future where America is dead and the U.K. is now a dictatorship, V for Vendetta reflects a fractured world torn apart by politics and a pandemic—an eerie similarity to 2020 that makes you forget the film is a work of fiction.
Here are all the ways V for Vendetta predicted the future of humanity a little too accurately. Beware of spoilers!
1. Pandemic Wreaks Havoc on Society
In V for Vendetta, a pandemic of the “St. Mary’s Virus” has decimated Europe and most likely the rest of the world, leading to a politically fragile climate that is not so different from the real world. St. Mary’s Virus was biologically engineered as a weapon by a political party to gain control, and while there are suspicions that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a Chinese government lab instead of a wildlife wet market, those are still unconfirmed.
2. Politicians Use the Pandemic to Consolidate Power
The pandemic was created to consolidate the Norsefire political party in the film, and while every country was blinded by the pandemic in the real world, there’s no denying that some nations have used the pandemic to strengthen their power. Want an example? Take a pick at your dictator. Vladimir Putin’s control on Russia is almost absolute, Viktor Orbán’s Hungarian government has practically given him dictatorial powers, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has managed to postpone his own criminal trial.
3. Peaceful Protests Met with Violent Force
Half of America might be wiped out in the film, but it’s well and truly alive in the real world where protests have been happening nonstop for weeks. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired protests across the U.S.A., and more than once, the protests have been met with police brutality. Meanwhile, across the world in Hong Kong, Chinese police forces have been systematically abusing peaceful protestors in the city for standing up against China’s chokehold on the region.
4. Police Kill Innocent Citizens
In the U.S., an unarmed American-African black woman who worked as an emergency medical technician was shot and killed in her own home after police barged in without announcing the search warrant. A few weeks later, another black man was shot by police while he selling barbecue on the side of the road. In the Philippines, a retired soldier with mental illness was shot dead by police at a quarantine checkpoint. Sadly, these instances have become common occurrences for a while now.
5. White Supremacists are at the Helm
Only fools would believe that white supremacy died when the Nazis were defeated. Aryan-obsessed folks are still around and despite the relatively enlightened era we live in, groups like the Ku Klux Klan and confederate sympathizers are still going strong. The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t isolated to the U.S.A.—it’s triggered countries around the world to reassess the systemized racism at home. In the U.K., a statue of a man who sold black slaves was torn down and dropped in the river after years of being the pride of a seaside town.
6. Curfew is Enforced
In V for Vendetta, the tyrannical British government has placed a strict curfew on the nation, which is exactly what’s happening in the world. But at least real-world curfews are in place because of the pandemic instead of politics. Life with a curfew is still bizarre and reminiscent of days under martial rule, but at least we know the curfew will be lifted eventually.
7. Destruction of Government and Private Property
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, protests turned violent in Minneapolis, his hometown, where hundreds if not thousands participated in the destruction of private and public property. Parts of the city were left in ruins, looking more like a war site than an industrial city. In V for Vendetta, the plot leads up to a great bonfire of the Houses of Parliament, a dramatic scene that we certainly don’t want repeated in the real world.
8| Society is Numb
A volcanic eruption, a global pandemic, a failing economy, million infected, millions unemployed—2020 is in the running for the worst year in recent history. The onslaught of terrible news after terrible news is enough to make a population numb, and in many ways, we are. Violence and terror are a mainstay in our television screens, so when Evey (Natalie Portman) ranted about how numb she was to V, we felt that.
9. People are Wearing Masks
But perhaps not in the same way. 2020 is the year of the face mask, with entire populations required to wear one to go outside. While our face masks might be for health reasons, the masks in V for Vendetta are for a different purpose entirely—one that has more to do with revolution than a virus.
10. Ideas are Still Bulletproof
V’s mask is a message to all: that an idea must be attached to a cause, not a person, as people are fickle and likely to fall. But ideas are less susceptible to human failures. And one good idea fiction and reality have in common is the shared struggle for a better world.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.