Your Lying Eyes

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23 March 2006

So This Guy in a Guy Fawkes Mask Walks into a Bar...

The new movie V for Vendetta features a kind of superhero who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. Do you know what that is? If not, you can join me and everyone I know in what must be the most ignorant group of people in the world. Because, you see, to the people who write movie reviews, it seems, the term “Guy Fawkes mask” is an utter commonplace needing no explanation, its usage certain to trigger in their legions of learned readers an instant vision: “Ah, yes, he wears a Guy Fawkes mask – I can just picture it!” No further elucidation is necessary – no need to waste ink even parenthetically describing something so ubiquitously understood – he’s wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, dammit!

Now it’s one thing to know who Guy Fawkes was – we all know he was some odd character from one of those bizarre incidents in British history involving some Papist plot to blow up Parliament. But we’re presumed to know about this eponymous mask? This presumption seems to cut across ideological and cultural lines. The New Yorker: “a rebel hero, in a Guy Fawkes mask, who blows up Parliament…” An reviewer: “an enigmatic hero wearing a grinning Guy Fawkes mask…” FrontPage: “He's a terrorist in a Guy Fawkes mask…” Even the great Udolpho indulges (albeit with style): "...aside from encouraging more gay men to wear Guy Fawkes masks every Halloween..." The casual references are everywhere. See for yourself.

I did try and use Google to find out just what a Guy Fawkes mask is. Of course if you just type in "Guy Fawkes mask" you're inundated with thousands of 'Vendetta' related posts by commenters eager to prove that they know what it is. So I tried filtering these out, eventually ending up with this search string: "guy fawkes mask" -vendetta -movie -film -portman. That generally succeeded in getting rid of the 'Vendetta' related posts (though a few, like DDT-resistant mosquitos after a good spraying, still hung around), but left an odd assortment of Guy Fawkes Day remiscences, paranormalist sites, professional wrestling vignettes, and shopping lists ("...jam, biscuits, Guy Fawkes mask...") - not one of them deigning to actually describe what this apparently ubiquitous mask looks like!

So, as a service to the next poor, ignorant, slob who finds himself stumped by an off-handed reference to this mask du jour, I hereby offer the first and only definition (based on pictures I've seen while researching this) of the term "Guy Fawkes mask" to appear anywhere on the internetGuy Fawkes Mask - Get yours today!: A Guy Fawkes mask is a comical or grotesque face mask with a resemblance to the British saboteur Guy Fawkes, featuring an elongated chin, a mustache and optional beard, prominent cheek bones, and a grinning, wide-eyed countenance. I invite my learned readers to contribute corrections to this definition in comments. If we can get this polished up, perhaps I'll add it to Wikipedia


Blogger Glaivester said...

I think that most people thought it was just a funny mask. Then after they heard it was a Guy Fawkes' mask, they said, "oh, so it has a name," and began to refer to it as that from now on.

To tell the truth, what the Guy Fawkes' mask makes me think of is the Quintesson face "War" (also known as "Crown" and "Laughter").

(The Quintessons are an alien race from the Transformers cartoon).

March 23, 2006 11:23 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well now there you go - I had no idea what a Quintesson is, but you added a little parenthetical to clear it up. If just one person in the entire blogosphere were so thoughtful re Guy Fawkes mask I wouldn't have gone through this trauma.

As an aside, I swear the first 'V' review posted by the Times referred to him wearing "a Guy Fawkes mask" (that's where I first saw it) but the latest version on the net says "a grotesque face mask." Renewed my faith that the Times editors are the best in the world.

March 24, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger C. Van Carter said...

What the stylish man is wearing: Guy Fawkes hat!

March 25, 2006 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



March 25, 2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Hah! Leave it to Carter to find the Guy Fawkes hat - my googling skills are strictly minor league, I'm afraid.

But those Brits sure seem to have some kind of love/hate relationship with Mr. Fawkes. Probably related to their repressed sense of inferiority for having only a faux-Catholic church.

March 26, 2006 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think everyone knows who Guy Fawkes was? I'd say awareness of this guy's attempted act is at least slightly esoteric.

March 26, 2006 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall reading about Guy Fawkes Day as a child, it was in some children's encyclopedia. I think that was the first and last time I ever encountered the tale of Guy Fawkes until just recently. Another inscrutible British tradition, like anally raping your public school classmates or beating each other senseless during soccer matches.

I just assumed a Guy Fawkes mask looked like the one featured prominently on the first V for Vendetta cover.

March 27, 2006 2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you try...Google Images?

March 27, 2006 5:55 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Google images - sure - but then you get all 'V for Vendetta' images and then another image that doesn't look all that much like the 'Vendetta' mask. I was just kind of flummoxed that something could be referred to so matter-of-factly by so many without their being anything resembling a definition anywhere to be found. Sort of like if someone referred to an Abe Lincoln hat and you couldn't find any revealing context for that reference.

March 27, 2006 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the fuss here. It's surely, like, a mask in the likeness of this guy Guido Fawkes like ,say, a 'George W Bush mask' would in all likelihood be a mask in the likeness the 43rd President of the USA.

March 28, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Glaivester said...

I think that anonymous is correct - anyone who knows who Guy Fawkes was probably should ascertain when he reads "Guy Fawkes' mask" that the mask is meant to be a likeness of Guy Fawkes.

March 28, 2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

But who could possibly know what Guy Fawkes looks like? He was obviously never photographed and no surviving portrait of him exists. It could just as reasonably be assumed that it's a mask that Guy (or his evil twin Guido) was wont to wear. If it were said that so and so was wearing a 'Fred Flintstone mask' nearly every breathing human in the modern world could immediately visualize, but referring to a 'Guy Fawkes mask' has no such resonance since no one knows has a clue what Guy Fawkes looked like - except thru a pre-existing familiarity with the notorious Guy Fawkes mask.

As an aside, I seem to get about 5 hits a day thru searches on 'Guy Fawkes Mask'! I do believe I am performing a service here!!

March 28, 2006 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wikipedia and other sources seem fairly certain that he was "a tall, powerfully built man, with thick reddish-brown hair, flowing moustache, and a bushy reddish-brown beard."

I'm sure there were enough contemporary descriptions of him (especially during his trial) that a likeness can be imagined.

Also, I thought there _were_ contemporary portraits...

March 31, 2006 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from Victoria, Australia and back in the 1970s Guy Fawkes day was grouse. Fireworks and catherine wheels, bonfires, the lot. In the 1980s the vibe of the country started to shift away from British influences and turned its cultural eye to the US. Halloween started to become popular, perhaps at the expense of Guy Fawkes. Plus some dickheads set off fireworks in other people's back pockets so that particular little fun part of life got banned as well. Hopefully this film will revive interest in commemorating a plot to blow up the government, especially considering the dropkick we've got in parliament at the moment.

But anyway, the upshot is, I recall Guy Fawkes Night vividly, and here's a great page on the whole celebration/observance of Guy Fawkes day and a bunch of images of Guy Fawkes masks

April 03, 2006 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank GOD for who-ever wrote this article. Really. I have been searching so hard to find out what exactly this 'Guy Fawkes mask' ACTUALLY refers to - whether it was a mock image of his face or whether HE himself wore it during his unsuccessful attack. Jesus just give me SOMETHING, ANYTHING don't just completely ignore the issue as though its general knowledge. But it's good to see I'm not the only person who felt out of the zone on this. MATE! So thanks man did I get a laugh out of it, reading exactly my thoughts in your article LOL Love Laura

April 10, 2006 8:50 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Thanks, Laura! Great/easily-annoyed minds think alike!

April 11, 2006 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding of the masks origins is that it was a suppose to be a grotesque representation of guy fawkes.It was encouraged by the aristocracy of the time to make him disliked by most people.
Guy fawkes was not considered a patriot or hero for quite some time after the events occured

April 18, 2006 12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy Fawkes just refers to the character the mask depicts, really. Like the infamous "Phantom of the Opera" mask or other such things. Since V for Vendetta though, the Guy Fawkes masks all look the same: Just like V's.

And for future reference as to HOW we know what Guy Fawkes looked like... it's rather the same way we know what Mozart or King Henry VIII looked like: Portraits. There's several good ones of him, if you can find a way to google-image him without getting V for Vendetta images.

And now for my random musing, promted by Chris' comment (which I thought was the most coherent yet and proper one yet): I do love how people refer to the movie most often... The film of course was brilliant, but the graphic novel by Alan Moore is incredible. The particular mask used in the movie didn't exist at all until the original black and white comic came out, if you're searching for the origins of that particular mask.

April 26, 2006 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what all the trouble is about. when I type in "guy fawkes mask" the first 2 results are about who Guy Fawkes is, and the 3rd one is about the movie. And dont complain when you get movie results and if your trying to figure out what the mask looks like you fool, the mask is right there!

April 29, 2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got here by Googling "Guy Fawkes Mask" after seeing the movie last night w/ my family, so thanks. The term was used by one of the characters (the inspector?) so I assumed the image was familiar enough in near-future England to be banned as subversive. I will now be compelled to interview all of my English friends to learn exactly what relevance this celebration has and what role the mask plays (if any.)

May 08, 2006 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world does not evolve around the USA and thus I think just because Guy Fawks is not known knowledge to you americans it does not mean its not known knowledge to other parts of the world. Other countries apart from the UK do have more history than just a selfcentered look at them selves, aparently contrary to US believe. The US history is short maybe you should fill your classes with history concerning other countries as well. It might just increase your horizon.

And the internet, especially google is not the answer to all questions - a book may be more insightful...

Just my two coppers on the keyboard for you...


May 08, 2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well, rikki.o, you make a fair point - we Yanks can be rather parochial. But the sources I cited were American, speaking to an American audience. But let me ask you this - if "Guy Fawkes Mask" is so familiar to you, why were you googling it?

May 08, 2006 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ziel, nice of you to reply - I was hoping you would. Actually I "googled it" as I was wondering if you could buy a replica of the mask used in the movie V for Vendetta. It caught my eye as it reminded me of old masked used in the baroque era (not sure if the spelling is correct) in theatres. And I also found some of the beginning dialoque V vocaled during his first apperance in the movie quite compelling.

I did not want to mock your initial post that started the blog - I just got somewhat anoyed at many statements that sounded though it was unbelievable that americans were left in the dark about Guy Fawks and that this is some sort of insult to the americans.

Being american does not mean you get everything served on a silver platter.

But it is also true that the press seemed to take the fact that the whole world should know who Guy Fawks is for granted, which is of course very shortsighted, not to say plain dumb.


May 09, 2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks rikki.o
your last post was spot on..
it is actually a nice change because usually the movies the rest of us have to watch focus on american themes (foot ball, halloween, 4th of july so on)
i am from new zealand and i have celebrated guy fawkes with a bon fire and burning of fireworks, ever since i was little and have been bought up with the story of guy fawkes...
so simply the point im trying to get across is dont be so narrow minded as to think that movies should be based on only themes you are fimiliar with, because what you are dealing with vandetta we have to deal with with just about every other movie

oh and dont be so quick to insult our beliefs because you arent familiar with them Another inscrutible British tradition, like anally raping your public school classmates or beating each other senseless during soccer matches

July 07, 2006 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I recently watched V for Vendetta together, and when it was over, he made some passing reference to the Guy Fawkes mask - now here's what's interesting - He's canadian, reared in british traditions in all their glory. And I'm American, with no idea about any of this droll stuff whatsoever. Not wanting to betray my ignorance, I muttered something like "huh - yeah" and resolved to look it up. And ran into this very same problem - WHAT??? I don't want a whole history of guy Fawkes, his possible marriage, the changing of his name from guy to Guido - I DON'T CARE!! Just tell me what the significance of him is, why he's become a national holiday, and above all, what's with the mask??? And now that your terrific site has answered that question for me, I can rest easy once more.
- Seems an awfully strange thing to commemorate, the almost-destruction of a parliament building... but then again, considering the comment immediately previous to mine, so are a good deal of other holidays that more of the world IS familiar with. I guess any excuse for fireworks and bonfires...

September 18, 2006 12:34 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Thanks, Danielle. I myself now feel confident enough that I could whip off an offhanded Guy-Fawkes-Mask allusion without even a moment's hesitation.

September 18, 2006 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! Despite knowing who Guy Fawkes was, I too puzzled over "what's with the mask" and proceeded to google my way to this page.

Now I can rest easy knowing that the "Guy Fawkes mask" refers to the masks placed on the effigies. Whew!

I want to thank the person who posted the geocities link.

Here's an interesting Guy Fawkes effigy photo:

October 08, 2006 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hah! I got here via a search also.

While familiar with the story of Guy Fawkes I never recalled any masks being used or attributed to him in the year I spent in the UK.

Nevertheless I now believe that it was perhaps an attempt at merchandising a licensed product, that the movie producers thought they might be able to make some money on.

December 16, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

months later and your blog is still yielding beneficial resuls. I too stand in a long line of internet pseudo-researchers to thank you.

surely this isn't the origin of the term "guys" as in, "hey you guys and gals?"

Has anyone yet mentioned the fact that a brilliant terrorist/hero with an accent and a Guy Fawkes mask wielding hidden knives and kick ass moves is incurably sexy? I have to admit I skipped some of the comments in the middle.

December 23, 2006 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't believe so many people share my common wonderment about the significance of a Guy Hawkes Mask. You Brits should be minimally honored that some of us Americans do indeed wonder about cultural traditions outside the Colonies.

But it sure seems that this particular mask used in "V" looks incredibly familiar. Much more familiar than a random face of a guy (pun intended) with a beard. It is like I have seen it over and over off and on over the last 50 some years (yes I a geezer) and I just don't know exactly where.

December 29, 2006 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First we look at what we are talking about which is in fact a mask which is either used as a way to hide your identity or a crude or comical depiction of something or someone in this case Guy Fawkes but what I have seen on official Guy Fawkes sites these mask often before V for Vendetta were depicted with a sad or angry face but similar facial charictaristics none the less my theroy is that the common smiling Guy Fawkes mask that you and I tend to see so often is just used as a symbol in the sense that Guy Fawkes was caught captured and killed before his triumphant vindication and "V" seemingly fulfilled and planned everything to perfection so with this said I would have a pretty happy face too in the end the true credit for the commonly seen Guy Fawkes mask goes to the movie industry for creating and manipulating the mask in to something we can all see through but not through the eyes of Guy Fawkes but "V"

April 10, 2007 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok,I'm a dumb American and I have a simple question for you Brits (and others who celebrate Guy Fawkes night). The web is unclear on this issue. Do you celebrate it for his attemp to challenge an unfair ruler (James I) or for the fact the he was caught and the king was spared? The movie directs to the previous but the web seems to indicate the latter.

June 04, 2007 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the british celebrate a terrorst? ha. how ironic.

June 06, 2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Fawkes was a Catholic, and so therefore a bad guy. They celebrate the spoiling of the plot and his capture, not him, though I'd guess nowadays most have no idea what they're celebrating.

June 06, 2007 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One man's T****rist is another man's freedom fighter". (Assuming big brother is always watching) So, I wouldn't think that it is that ironic. I mean isn't that what the movie was about on some level? Of course, if a baby was killed during the destruction of the Bailey (forgive me if I didn't spell that correctly) the perspective of the audience would have been different.
From what I have gathered elsewhere, it apears that the official celebration was by government decree following the plot so people would remember its failure. However, many people currently regard it as a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the man trying to blow up the government. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

June 07, 2007 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Scottish Brit married to an English Brit.We celebrate Bonfire night for no other reason than a good booze up,fireworks and a big hot fire on a cold night.In my experience noone cared about the history even though we were all aware of it having learned it in school. The only Guy Fawkes mask I ever saw were the faces kids drew on the "Guy" when they took it around the streets.(They would make a stuffed representation of Gut Fawkes to later burn on the bonfire and ask for "a penny for the Guy")It is really nice that so many people from America are interested in this.Have yourselves a Bonfire night and don't worry about history just have a great time with your friends and family which is how we look at it. Nothing beats a good knees up.

July 20, 2007 3:46 AM  
Blogger Druid Carver said...

Great site ziel- Most of what I would have to offer has already been mentioned by someone in this thorough and rousing discussion. I would like to add a little twist. The Wachowski Bros., who have eschewed fame for private social lives (as socially deviant behavior often demands unfortunately), have publicly said they like their films to contain multiple layers of meaning, claiming as many as 14 different "hidden" layers in the Matrix. This practice of subtle embedding, whether through images, names or dialogue, is the main reason most of their films are as much a joy to watch the tenth time as they were the first. Is it any wonder they would drop a phrase like Guy Fawkes Mask so non-chalantly into our modern parlance? I can imagine them sitting around writing, and having the discussion on whether or not to have some explanation of the mask in the film, then deciding no. "Maybe somebody will start a website and it will keep people talking about the man....."

August 07, 2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Thanks, Wook. I wouldn't put it past the Wachowski's to be intentionally obscure, that's for sure.

August 09, 2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger jon02129 said...

Ok, I can't, for the life of me, understand what your issue is in this post.

Instead of searching Google so systematically with all those strings, you could have simply clicked the little link called "Images" to see what it looked like.

August 17, 2007 3:01 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

I knew what it looked like - it looked like the mask in "'V' for Vendetta", and I assumed that it was a likeness of Guy Fawkes. But what I did not understand was the significance of such a mask, and the reviewers were mentioning it as if by merely stating "Guy Fawkes Mask" their American readers would immediately understand. I still don't understand the significance of that particular mask to the story line, other than that it's a little creepy looking.

August 17, 2007 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! Thanks.

August 18, 2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for interesting article.

August 18, 2007 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 24, 2007 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent website. Good work. Very useful. I will bookmark!

September 10, 2007 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you sat through the entire movie and are still somehow unaware of it's significance and how it relates to the storyline, then I'm afraid someone would need to draw you a chart... Of course, by the time they were done, you'd need someone to explain why they wrote in pen instead of pencil.

The whole introductory scene of the movie explained Guy Fawkes, and numerous references were made where you could make inferences to the parallels between that story and the one presented over the entirety of the movie. I can't take the time to explain basic symbolism. It's not "Point Break" with Swayze in a Reagan mask, the connection was a direct one.

I'm not upset with this article in general, but it inspires the kind of dumb pride in so many people. "Yeah, why should I know who Guy Fawkes is?! What? I have to pay attention to sumpin for 3 hours? Other countries have holidays they celebrate every year? I might have to read a book, or make a string of logical connections to arrive at a conclusion? Well, forget that!"

I could understand if you had asked "Hey, why's he wearing a Snoopy mask?" because that would make no sense, or just have been an arbitrary choice, but they explain who Guy Fawkes is IN THE FREAKING MOVIE. You then, being an upright walking mammal, assume that maybe there's a connection between what they JUST SAID to what's GOING ON. It's amazing!

Again, not meaning to insult the writer of the initial post, but only in a country where Nascar is more popular than theatre could this be a common problem. "Ohhh man, they just turned left all together! Ooo, they're turning left again! Still turning! Man, I'm so glad I don't have to think, because it might distract me from what's happening next! OOOO, LEFT!"

I can't wait to check the internet after the "Waiting for Godot" movie comes out.

September 10, 2007 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am just a bit annoyed at all you non-USA citizens that seem to be complaining about how you are 'forced' to watch movies made in the USA about things we in the USA do or what have you... Ya'll morons are never 'forced' to watch this tripe. You have freedom of choice and I bloody well suggest that you exercise it.

About the comment from some idiotic UK citizen who seemed to argue that outside of the USA Guy Fawkes is well known... Get a fucking life, I am sure that outside of the UK Guy Fawkes is completely unknown, ask someone from Upper Mongolia about him and i bet you get a blank stare.

Parochial? Look in the fucking mirror. The world does not revolve around your piss ant little island. Never did, and you know what? Without the US backing you you would have lost the fucking Falklands (or as i like to call them Los Islas Malvinas)

Have a fucking nice day and go anally rape some of your classmates.


September 29, 2007 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in response to the last comment posted by the red kneck hick that dares to spew his biased unbacked account on history/the british people...what are you talking about the falklands for you obviously no nothing about the falklands...that was the singlemost highest deployment of speacial forces ever the british S.A.S ,S.B.S and Gurkha forces all trained in Britain ! and do you not remember our were you never taught in your pathetic excuse for an educational system that there was a time when THE SUN NEVER SET ON THE BRITISH EMPIRE , we are still the single biggest commonwealth on Earth, Dont dare say we needed your help, now dont get me wrong America has and lord giving always will have very strong ties to america and i have fought and will always fight alongside americas bravest. and for the most part american people want the same as the rest of us ..its just a shame that you have the pleague of uneducated overweight large mouthed Hicks that spew their ignorance as they reproduce with their family in trailor parks...

A british soldier (S.A.S) born to
an american mother and a scottish father.. well versed in World history and a hatred of ignorence

October 06, 2007 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I was going to post on how fascinating the Guy Fawkes history is, but I'm a redneck from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the States. I'll just be off to sell my home and find a nice trailer park somewhere. I don't want to disavow anyone of any stereotypes, after all.

October 24, 2007 10:56 PM  
Blogger Wayne Farmer said...

So, after all of the above, can you finally, as you suggested in your original post, start an Wikipedia article about "Guy Fawkes mask"? I'd appreciate it. You might also be interested in the Wikipedia article titled "MadV".

November 10, 2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand why you would raise the initial question and want to research it. It appears that some Brit history enthusiasts and others who haven't read carefully don't really get the issue. They're going on about irrelevant things such as whether people should or shouldn't know the history of the gunpowder plot and how obviously the Guy Fawkes story ties into the V movie, which is self explained. The point is that in the comic and movie,as well as many movie reviews and other places, the V character is spoken of as wearing a "Guy Fawkes mask." Yes, the comic and movie creators make it very clear that's the image V intended, and why he does it. Everyone understand that. But it is never explained how other characters in the story are able to identify V's costume as a "Guy Fawkes" one just by looking at him, even with their intimate knowledge of British history and tradition. From what I've seen on the web, true Guy Fawkes costumes and effigies (especially pre-V) are all over the map on what his face looks like (some have beards, some don't, some have big eyes, big noses, etc.) At least in the comic the guy wore a tall puritan hat. In the "V" movie, the guy wears a zorro costume with a lady's wig and a mask that looks like a theatrical mask from a "comedy and tragedy" set, except with a little facial hair painted on, and everyone pretends like they immediately recognize it as the unmistakable likeness of Guy Fawkes. Then when you question that, some people accuse you of historical and cultural ignorance. My conclusion-the "V for Vendetta" mask was created by the comic artist, and prior that there was no such thing as a "Guy Fawkes mask." Any mask worn or put on an effigy on Nov. 5th would be called a Guy Fawkes mask, no matter what it looked like. Maybe the other story characters assumed V was trying for a Guy Fawkes look because he was blowing up government building on Nov.5th.
-an understanding American

December 27, 2007 4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems we Americans are ignorant of Guy Fawkes Day for a reason. As the 13 colonies set out to form a republic apart from the British crown, George Washington more or less outlawed the celebration as one that encouraged acts of violence againt Catholics. Many Catholics found made homes in Maryland, the colony just north of Washington's Potomac estate in Virginia. In addition, alienating the French who lent a much needed helping hand in our unlikely victory, would have been an untimely act of cultural insensitivity. The following article I found explains more.
Why did Guy Fawkes fall out of favor in America? After all, George W. Bush seems to love the policies that Guy Fawkes Day marks.

The original George W. saw things quite differently. For him, America was involved in a struggle for its liberty, and the commemoration of Guy Fawkes stood for the opposite: government by fear, oppression of a minority, a celebration of arbitrary power. Guy Fawkes Day was the abnegation of the essential values of the Revolution. So the original George W. put it in an order: no more Guy Fawkes Day.

Order in Quarters issued by General George Washington, November 5, 1775:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope–He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.

America, it was settled, would mark the old Guy Fawkes Day with a new tradition: the exercise of the Democratic Franchise. It was to be the day on which the rulers are held accountable to the people.

The Gunpowder Plot and Treason was taken as a justification for the oppression and persecution of Catholics across England for many decades. The Stuart monarchy’s religious bigotry grew side by side with its insatiable taste for power. And this led, over time, to Civil War. The Gunpowder plot and trial was the English-speaking world’s first experience with counterterrorism. It demonstrated that some policies are foolish, destroy the confidence of the people in their own government, and may even cause an autocrat or two to loose his head. But some people never learn.

This year, let us again remember the tale of Guy Fawkes. The fifth of November is indeed a day to remember. But with time we have a better reason why.


So, perhaps sometimes we are a bit ignorant of things more British. Those members of the Commonwealth that remained colonies to the bitter end would certainly share more historical reference with Britain. As an American of proud Jamaican ancestry, I enjoy trips to London where my aunts will give me 40 quid to blow on some frivolity. I don't enjoy the way the pound sterling is killing the dollar. But hey this Guy Fawkes Day will certainly be one to celebrate the world over. For if I (and what I perceive to be the majority of Americans) have my way, we'll see an end to the oppressive regime of the latest George W. so far removed from our great first president. The best part is we won't even need any gunpowder.

-Vote for Vendetta!!!

February 24, 2008 5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel really dumb... I recognized it almost by accident but I didn't realize how Guy Fawkes Day is commemorated in America today. WE VOTE. Guy Fawkes Day is now commemorated as Election Day and almost no one realizes it. It doesn't always fall exactly on 5 Nov but it is always the first tuesday of Nov which usually lands it pretty close. I now feel truly astute! lol. Watch me enlighten my university friends.

February 24, 2008 5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I did wonder if there was such a thing as a Guy Fawkes mask before this movie, so i googled and came on your page where my question was answered swiftly.
Greetings from the Netherlands.

May 18, 2008 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all

The Gunpowder Plot was a significant event in British history, had it succeeded the King, his family and ALL the landowning ruling Lords of England would have been wiped out by the explosion, leaving a power void which the Catholic plotters were to fill with persons of their own choosing. Beacons were lit across the land that night to announce the foiling of the plot and for this reason we still light beacons of Bonfires each year on the 5th November. It's a celebration not of terrorism but of the saving of the King. Gareth :)

August 04, 2009 6:49 PM  
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February 15, 2010 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is about as close as I have come to finding out about this mask.
A few years ago, I had a very vivid dream and believe that I was greeted by what I thought at the time was a strange looking asian man of some importance on a boat somewhere where there are numerous whale herds. After seeing this mask from the movie, I now realize this is exactly what the man looked like so was naturally curious as to what it could mean.
I don't see any connection that would make any sense It was JUST a dream I suppose that could mean nothing, but it just sticks out.
Just thought I'd share. Why not?

April 02, 2010 2:49 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well it's a very creepy looking mask, and so very apropos for a dream. I'm glad I was of some help!

April 02, 2010 3:18 AM  
Anonymous Kurt Angle said...

I think that most people thought it was just a funny mask. Then after they heard it was a Guy Fawkes' mask, they said, "oh, so it has a name," and began to refer to it as that from now on.

May 13, 2010 1:15 AM  
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June 25, 2010 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is such a thing as a Guy Fawkes mask made before V for Vendetta.

Cardboard Guy Fawkes masks were sold alongside fireworks in British shops. The masks were used on effigies of Guy Fawkes made by children to be burned on a bonfire on 5th November. A couple of weeks beforehand the children paraded their creation around in and old pram shouting "A penny for the Guy!" to earn money to buy fireworks. Bonfire night was a children's festival, when boys and girls built their own bonfires and set off fireworks.

Today, children are no longer allowed to buy fireworks or light their own bonfires. The Fireworks Act of 2003 prohibited people under the age of 18 from carrying fireworks in public. Bonfire night is now strictly controlled by grown-ups. Due to the influence of the US, Halloween has replaced Bonfire Night as children's big autumn festival.

Even the cardboard Guy Fawkes masks have disappeared from most of our shops, to be replaced by Halloween masks and skulls.

December 13, 2010 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Cln said...

Thanks for this! Exactly what I searched.

Had to comment to note that it's incredible how stupid some of the comments here are. You obviously read (like me) about the man himself and his day but didn't find anything on the particular masks. A stunning display of selective reading on the part of some here.

And to correct any potential idiots who might accuse me of my US centralism and whatnot, well, I'm not even from the US. In fact, I'm from Germany. (Cue those trying to utilise their unfounded stereotypes and declaring my posts invalid because I obviously must be a nazi!)

March 14, 2011 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well and now the infamous guy fawkes mask is back on the radar thanks to occupy wall street. i also was puzzled- and i know a lot about guy fawkes day. i dont know why i had to educate myself all about it but i know nearly more than all of what is included in this whole page. alls i remember is sometime in late childhood reading an awful lot about guy fawkes day, maybe it was required by school, maybe just looked it up myself and that was in the 1980's so i did my research in the library using a card catalogue not at a computer. anyhow i wanted to point out just a few of the finer points that were overlooked here: 1) the kids when making an effigy would try to make the most grotesque and mocking representation of guy they could- that is what building an effigy is all about of course, but here is the kicker- they go around saying "penny for the guy" because you are supposed to give more pennies to the kids w the better mockery of guy- the more the effigy really makes fun of how stupid and brutish and "oh of course a person THAT incomepent and foolish would get caught trying a plot against the king!" so the more of an ass it makes of guy fawkes, the higher the amount of pennies you are supposed to give in admiration of the best guys- like giving more candy for the best costumes to trick or treaters. 2) thus the holiday evolved to celebrate how stupid and incompetent the plotters were and how much intellect and savoir-faire the king and his regime had in foiling the plot. it was like "yay! our king and the brittish monarchy triumphs again! cant touch this!" they also burned effigies of the pope cuz the whole plot revolved around blowing up the prodestants and replacing them w catholics. 3) the whole thing got kinda hostile towards catholics so that might be why the whole thing has got less popular and the halloween thing is catching on. people want to be more P.C. in their national holidays these days. i dont know why all this was important for me to share here- same as when i felt compelled to learn it so many years ago. but i always wanted so bad to build a guy and take him out door to door- i really hope i get the chance one day, oh and in all that research i never came across the "guy fawkes mask" in any of what i read- i just imagined they drew a face, but the mask having that stupid grin on it, it all makes sense- to make him look like a nit-wit who would of course mess up and get caught. the only thing that doesnt make sense to me which i didnt see the movie so maybe i should and it would clear up this one point that i dont get- why would anyone who is in favor of anarchy and stuff like that want to be associated with a person who was a pawn of the pope, working to stregthen the stranglehold the catholic church has on the world and on top of everything was a loser and got caught? he did pitch himself off some kind of scaffold and die when his neck snapped as he hit the ground- before they could execute him by drawing and quartering so maybe its this final act of rebellion against those who wanted to see him suffer more in execution- like those who commit suicide before they can be arrested and tried- like the kids in the columbine shooting, texas A&M shooter, etc- somehow doesnt seem fitting for an anarchist anti-establishment super-hero, maybe its just me...

October 05, 2011 11:11 PM  
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