Heads ups: some links are a little salty in their language and images, amirite?
There are obviously some merry pranksters of the 4Chan /b/ level in conservative think tanks who infiltrated and convinced the Republican Governors Association that Guy Fawkes Day would be a really cool sub rosa coda to their new campaign, now known as “Remember November.”
Basic historical facts: In 1605 British Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators stashed a bunch of gunpowder under the House of Lords and planned to blow up Parliament because the English government was Anglican and the plotters were Roman Catholic. That would be a jihad, except the dudes were all Christian not Muslim, but you see where I’m going.
Fawkes was left guarding the boom-boom room, got caught when guards–tipped off by an anonymous letter–searched the basements. He confessed under torture and named his pals, and so was convicted of terrorism. On execution day, he jumped off the gallows scaffolding, breaking his neck, in order to avoid the rather painful drawing and quartering that awaited him.
The failure of the Gunpowder Plot is celebrated in the UK on November 5 with bonfires. Depending on who’s lighting the fires, sometimes the Pope and other political figures, like Margaret Thatcher, are burned in effigy instead of a figure of Guy Fawkes. There’s also a little poem that’s recited:
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
Flash forward 400 years to 2005 when the film V for Vendetta–based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore–was scheduled for release (it was delayed until February 2006): A mysterious figure in a Guy Fawkes mask seeks to overthrow the totalitarian British government and becomes a hero, empowering the masses who all don the masks.
Along the way, on the Internets, most notably on 4 Chan.org the image sharing boards where people post anonymously and where cultural phenomenons like “rick rolling” exploded into the mainstream, Guy Fawkes became a symbol of utter failure, developing into a meme known as “epic fail guy,” (EFG), a failure so grand it somehow succeeds in spite of itself and becomes “win.”
In 2008 EFG and the Guy Fawkes mask became a universal symbol for Anonymous, the global anti-Scientology protest group which coalesced on the Internet and actually succeeded in exposing much of the organization’s dirty laundry, making them a goofy joke. Anonymous became underground heroes within the youth and online cultures. Can’t you just see the brain storming at RGA:
Whoa this whole Guy Fawkes thing has a hip new youth movement on the internets. Let’s subvert their subversion! They’ll never notice our subliminal appropriation.
Fix’t by infiltrator:
/b/tards, this is full of win. And what do you want? Win! What will this give you? Delicious caek, made of win full of win>9000. All their bases are belong to us. Resistance is futile; they will be enturbulated! Doooooo eeeeet!
And the RGA fell for it.
And even more backstory: The term “anonymous” and “Anonymous” are often confused; when an “anonymous” kid hacked into Sarah Palin’s email account and posted the info on an “anonymous” site, “Anonymous” was blamed by Scientology. Um, epic fail all around.
Scientology calls the Guy Fawkes-mask wearing Anonymous “terrorists.” This is the religion practiced by Washington insider Joe Coale who, after the hacking and Palin’s failed bid to be a heartbeat from the football, helped Palin form SarahPAC while his wife Greta Van Susteren shills for her on Fox.
And now the RGA is kinda trying to explain themselves as seen above…and failing.
Quick recap: For their campaign, the RGA uses slogan celebrating either the attempted traitorous overthrow of government on theocratic grounds, or the failure of said plot. Either way, celebrating fail. Additionally, the RGA is co-opting a youth movement symbol which is (wrongly) associated with terrorism and harassing Sarah Palin, as well as annoying Greta Van Susteren. Epic fail.
But maybe, as explained on Encyclopaedia Dramatica, in some deeply non-dualistic universe it makes sense with so much fail surrounding them that the RGA would, in fact, adopt Epic Fail Guy as their subliminal electioneering slogan. Way to go an hero!