It was 1984 and the invasion was underway
The aliens had arrived. They didn’t arrive in spaceships though, they did it by teleporting through my television.
Actually, technically speaking it was my parents’ television. And they weren’t aliens, they were the guy who played Freddy Krueger, a woman who looked like she arrived from the set of Dynasty, and TJ Hooker’s boss. They wore red jumpsuits which meant they were evil, had armbands which meant they were super-evil, killed scientists which meant they were mega-evil, and wore sunglasses which meant they were kind of cool but still evil.
It turned out that they were also giant lizards wearing human-skin suits to disguise themselves, and that they ate hamsters and rats. Their goal was to take over Earth while pretending to be our friends (which they did), steal our planet’s water and vacuum-pack any of us who opposed them so they could have a light snack on the flight back to their own world.
Yes, it was V and I loved it. It was a groovy show with groundbreaking (for its day) effects and a hero called Mike Donovan who looked a bit like a human version of Kermit the Frog. I know, the resemblance isn’t that great, but just picture him singing Am I A Man Or A Muppet? from The Muppets and imagine what he’d see in his reflection. It’s Kermit, trust me on this. And before you think I’m knocking Marc Singer, I’m absolutely not. He was awesome and in my book Kermit is King.
V was the kind of show that made you kind of hope for an alien invasion just so you could join the resistance and fight the evil aliens. Granted, they weren’t all evil because it turned out that Freddy Krueger was a good guy, so was a guy called Martin and there was even some blonde lizard-woman who kept stripping to help the resistance. By that same standard, not all of the humans were good either, like Mike Donovan’s mom or the angry kid who sold out everyone just because the girl he liked didn’t like him.
Speaking of that girl, she was a spoilt brat and didn’t give a damn about her family’s safety as long as she could start up the whoopee machine with one of those aliens. Damn hormones.
I liked the old couple in the show. I liked the idea that scientists were the key to figuring out a way to win. I liked the spaceships, I liked the laser guns, and I liked it even more when they brought Michael Ironside into it. He was so hardcore that I wanted to be just like him, only without the lack of hair.
This was a V that I could enjoy and didn’t involve Michael Caine, Pele and Sylvester Stallone playing football. Of course, it was also a different V from the one that was appearing in comic books at the time, namely Alan Moore’s brilliant V For Vendetta. The one with the aliens was cool but very silly in lots of ways. Moore’s comic book tale, which was set in a fascist 1984-type Britain, was cool too but wasn’t silly at all. That was hardcore storytelling.
That one had an anti-hero simply called V who sets about causing anarchy to create a better Britain. It was highly intelligent and raised the issue that anarchy means more than spray painting a stylised A on walls and rioting for no reason. In fact, that’s not it at all and if you think it is then you missed the point. If anybody out there saw (and enjoyed) the film but didn’t read the comic book, you’re missing out and should read it now. Or at least once you’re done reading this.
That television show about the aliens that now looks a bit dopey and this philosophical comic book about a costumed vigilante that’s still brilliant, they had almost nothing in common except for the letter V.
Except they did. They both talked about fighting fascism, no matter what form it appears in. They showed how easy it is for evil to creep into society and take over, through masks of kindness, media manipulation and our own lack of resistance until it’s too late. They also point out that we can fight it even when all hope seems lost. It’s good to ask questions and we don’t just have to stay silent, we have voices. What evil fears is when we use them, because others listen and may be encouraged to use their voices too.
Me, I don’t wear a mask. I don’t look like Michael Ironside. I don’t look like Marc Singer and I certainly don’t look like Kermit the Frog. I don’t hijack TV stations and I don’t have a laser gun or a train full of dynamite. I don’t have much of anything, actually. Well, I have V on DVD and V for Vendetta on my bookshelf and I’m happy with those, as long as the DVD doesn’t get too scratched and the bookcase doesn’t collapse.
I have a voice though, even if sometimes it’s only a literary one.
My voice sometimes sounds a little silly, although I don’t mind. I say silly things too, and I don’t mind that either. Sometimes it can be a good thing even when there’s something serious that I’m trying to say, because like they say the truth can be uttered in jest. On the plus side I don’t sound like some lizard-alien and wear a red jumpsuit with an armband, and I try to give the finger to the Fingermen whenever I get the chance.
Like those lizard aliens though, I’m going to keep wearing my sunglasses. Those are cool and they give me better hallway vision. They make me feel like Rowdy Roddy in They Live, and I think they’re definitely helping me see things a bit more clearly.
Now… what do you see?