I love it when cultural entertainment memes are employed against real fake society — and that just happened at Washington State University when V — not the V War Machine — played an uninvited classroom visit via video.
Students and instructors arriving for class on Friday morning were greeted by a video message automatically beamed onto projector screens in more than two dozen classrooms. The message was delivered by a hacker dressed up as V, the Guy Fawkes-inspired anti-hero of the 2006 movie V for Vendetta. After hacking into the university’s academic media system, which manages classroom-presentation and distance-learning technology, the as-of-yet-unidentified culprit or culprits programmed motorized screens to unfurl themselves and scheduled projectors to broadcast the five-minute-long video once every hour. The video—ostensibly a diatribe against campus squirrels and a call to end student apathy—interrupted lectures and cut off access for distance-learning students until the IT staff was able to shut down the program in the early afternoon.
Here’s the delicious V video that was played on the WSU campus — try to ignore the poor acting that is strangely out-of-sync with the articulate voice over:
Here’s the text of the best part of the speech:
And so I resolve to end this tyranny that has soaked into the very brick that holds our university together. More than one hundred years ago, WSU was founded as a land grant university under the federal Morrill Act. When that bill was signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, education was recognized as a privilege, one that as Americans, we tend to forget. So if you have see[n] nothing, if the crimes committed against us remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek then I ask you to stand beside me, and one year from today on lawns of this fine university we shall give the squirrels a fifth of November that shall never be forgot!
I love this method of anarchic rebellion — even if, in the end, the perpetrator is caught and punished — because it teaches us so many pre-leavened lessons.
We first learn that nobody is safe. Nothing is sacred. If “V” can touch you in the classroom — so can Al-Qaeda — and that memes none of us are untouchable in our unvanquished ivory towers or sitting in our backyards yelling at the kids and swallowing gulpsful of cheap beer.
We also learn how utterly insecure any technical network is in situ — and “V” even provides the comeuppance memes for erasing his theatrical rebellion:
One final note to the AMS people: We didn’t break your computers. They will be back to normal at 5:01 PM. Don’t worry about it. (Unless you tampered with them, in which case you should run the script “c:vuninstall.bat” as Administrator. This script will cleanly remove and reverse all modifications made to the systems.)
You may email V at v [at] wsu1812.com.
Our final takeaway is the hard-nosed reminder that sometimes we all need a shared and syncopated punch in the social face — to wake us from our ongoing, national, somnambulism — and we have “V” to thank for that bloody, moral, strike.