Guy Fawkes Night and the Famous Mask That Lives on Through Anonymous

Guy Fawkes-inspired mask is protest symbol even 400 years after his death.

November 05, 2014, 11:26 AM
PHOTO: English conspirator, Guy Fawkes, circa 1606. | A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask on Nov. 1, 2014 in Nantes.
English conspirator, Guy Fawkes, circa 1606. | A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask on Nov. 1, 2014 in Nantes.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images| Georges Gorbet/AFP/Getty Images

— -- Remember, remember the Fifth of November.

Even 400 years after his death, British folk hero Guy Fawkes has helped stoke the spirit of protesters with a mask that was popularized in the graphic novel and movie "V for Vendetta" and has since been adopted by the hacktivist group Anonymous.

The mustached white face with a devious smile and rosy cheeks that has come to symbolize rebellion was first widely utilized by Anonymous in 2008 when the leaderless group came out from behind their computer screens to protest alleged Internet censorship from the Church of Scientology.

"In 2008, when Anonymous was protesting the Church of Scientology, they would wear these masks to associate themselves to the Internet subculture of 4chan and Anonymous, and also to protect their identities," Cole Stryker, author of "Epic Win for Anonymous" told ABC News.

"Plus, the association with 'V for Vendetta' gave them something to feel dangerous and revolutionary about. For a while, this iconography was seen as totally mysterious and bad-ass," Stryker said.

The mask has since been seen at government protests worldwide, Occupy Wall Street and was even been utilized by striking Turkish airline workers last year.

The mask is based on Fawkes, an Englishman who schemed to assassinate King James I in an attempt to restore Catholicism.

Fawkes was eventually caught on Nov. 5, 1605, when authorities found his stash of gunpowder explosives hidden in the Parliament cellar.

He refused to name his co-conspirators, however, they were caught anyway, tried, found guilty and were sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Over time, annual commemorations of the plot evolved into a day and night of fun and pranks, complete with bonfires, fireworks and the burning of children’s effigies of Fawkes.

Who knew rebellion could be so fun.

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