“Across the centuries, those on the losing ends of the political and economic spectrum have periodically, counteracted repressive forms of governmet with carnivalesque forms of protest.“ (Bruner, 2005:1)
Thought the history as the author of Carnivalesque Protest and the Humorless State, M. Lane Bruner says, carnival forms of protest have been challenging the powers of state via humor, from political carnivals in the Ancient Rome, in the Middle Age until the Orange Alternative´s carnivalesque protest in Poland during the communism era. According to Claire Tancons: “Carnival hardly exists in the United States anymore…However, the carnivalesque—as a medium of emancipation and a catalyst for civil disobedience—is alive and well, and these contemporary carnivals have retained their rebellious potential.” One of the contemporary mask symbols of such carnivalesque disobedience nowadays that makes a common line for lot of contemporary protests around the world I think is the famous mask of Guy Fawkes used by some demonstrators in the movements against the social and economic inequality in the world- Occupy Wall Street, but seen also during the Arab Spring or Gezi park protests. Gradually with the extensive usage during the various political protests, this mask has become some kind of symbol of resisting the existing state or government powers, an icon that stands for anti-government, anti-establishment sentiments or against a form of state tyranny. And why did the protesters actually decide to use this type of masks to convey a message of an anti-thesis to governments?
The popularity of usage of Guy Fawkes masks in relation to protest movements comes from the itself iconic movie, where V for Vendetta, fighter or the anti-hero tries to stear a revolution against the in movie proclaimed fascism regime of the UK in 2020. The V´s inspiration for the upraising is drawn from the Gunpowder Plot in the 1605´s England intended to kill the King James I. But it was the Anonymous internet hacktivist group that largely spreaded the usage of this masks and popularized it, as they adopted it as their form of coverage of identity. Individuals that feel connected with the ideas of the Anonymous group or are itself members wear them in public. Furthermore the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been seen worn one of these masks on the London Occupy movement. To question who wears this carnivalesque mask seems to signify that it´s not just an exclusivity of protesters, but to simply disseminate a non-agreement or critisism coming even from politicians to policians pointing out with humor the problematics of an issue. The members of Polish government worn for example Guy Fawke´s masks as an antistance towards the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. I think this can also tell us more about the fact that this mask can be firmly seen as part of current political carnivals. As pointed out by Jonathan Jones : “Carnival is entertaining and opens up questions that cannot usually be asked. Guy Fawkes has become the king of a carnival of questions. Far from being sinister, his mask is a jokey icon of festive citizenship.“
Bruner, M.L. (2005) “Carnivalesque Protest and the Humorless State”, in Text&Performance Quarterly, Vol.25, No.2, pp.136-155
Jones, J. (2011) “Occupy´s V for Vendetta protest mask is a symbol of festive citizenship” in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/04/occupy-movement-guy-fawkes-mask
Tancons, C. (2011) “Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility” in e-flux http://www.e-flux.com/journal/occupy-wall-street-carnival-against-capital-carnivalesque-as-protest-sensibility/
Olson, P. (2012) ” Amid ACTA Outcry Politicians Don Anonymous Guy Fawkes Masks” in Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/01/27/amid-acta-outcy-politicians-don-anonymous-guy-fawkes-masks/
V for Vendetta movie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta_%28film%29