Does "V" stand for "victory," "virtue," or "vile" and "vapid"?

Some members of the Christian media are treating V for Vendetta as an offensive and "vile" piece of work, while others are celebrating it as a film about moral responsibility, featuring an inspirational Christ figure. Who's right?

There's no denying that the plot is made of volatile elements. The famed graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd was composed as a fantasy commenting on the policies of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. But Larry and Andy Wachowski have joined with newcomer James McTeigue to update the story—and their revisions have resulted in a subversive, dangerous tale.

V, the rebellious hero played by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings), is winning viewers' affections by lashing out against this fascist authority. Donning a Guy Fawkes mask, he strikes back at the empire, using knives and explosives. Natalie Portman portrays the disillusioned citizen who just might learn to be a terrorist herself, and together they aim higher and higher, until London's Parliament building becomes their ultimate target.

Liberation stories are usually cause for celebration. And the government in this fantasy is certainly oppressive and cruel, practically begging its citizens to revolt. But these heroes are awfully quick to embrace violence, without much talk about other forms of protest. Should this behavior be encouraged? (Vendetta's filmmakers sidestep the issue of whether bombing buildings might claim innocent lives.)

Many critics defend Vendetta as a timeless sci-fi tale, and it does have the basic structure of a myth about the consequences of oppression. But the filmmakers have gone to too much trouble to make it clear who ...

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