Like a lot of fans of V for Vendetta the comic book, I'm awaiting the movie version with at least as much dread as anticipation. It's not that I object to any changes being made to the sacred text--they have to be, in the translation from one medium to another--but the particular revisions working their way through the rumor mill indicated a fundamental misunderstanding of the comic. This New York Times article allayed many of my fears, but plenty of sticking points remain.
One of them is Stephen Fry's description of his character, Gordon Deitrich, as "a chat show host who questions the authority of the people who run Britain." It seems woefully misconceived, a worrying sign that the filmmakers don't understand or don't care to replicate the society depicted by Moore and Lloyd. In their work, nobody is allowed to question the Leader's authority; one whiff of dissent and Mr. Deitrich would be off to the nearest Larkhill.
Then I remembered that there's already a Gordon in V for Vendetta: the gangster who takes in Evey after V cuts her loose. And if Fry is playing a revised version of that character, then making him a critic of the government does, I admit, follow a certain internal logic.
Gordon the gangster is a weaker version of V. Evey, still dependent on others in the first half of Book Two, has instinctively gravitated towards the closest replacement she could find. Gordon operates outside the law, but only in the petty trade of bootlegged booze and porn. He's not a very good V surrogate at all, actually--he even violates one of V's personal taboos by sleeping with Evey.
But the greatest contrast is seen at the end of Book 2, Chapter 6, "Variety." After watching another gangster get beaten to death for the crime of speaking the truth, Evey asks Gordon, "We shouldn't have to live like this. Should we?" Gordon's answer: "No, kid, we shouldn't. What are you going to do about it?" In one of the best word-image juxtapositions in a comic that's loaded with them, V watches over this exchange, departing silently after hearing Gordon's complacent, defeatist answer.
I've already suggested the gangster characters function as important contrasts between the avaricious, self-centered lawlessness of crime (ultimately complicit with or indistinguishable from the very authority it violates, as seen with Harper and Creedy) and V's politically motivated rebellion. Gordon is even more important, as a failed reflection of V and a way station in Evey's development into an independent, responsible adult. He offers her temporary shelter and the chance to live a normal life before his murder demonstrates how brutally circumscribed normal life is in Norsefire's England.
If Fry is playing that character then I'm somewhat relieved. A talk-show host who criticizes the government would be another V surrogate, someone who thinks he can resist the brutal dictatorship through civil discourse alone and who, I'm guessing, will painfully, fatally learn that he can't. That would make even better anarchist propaganda than the comic, wouldn't it?
But therein lies the problem, because the government depicted by Moore and Lloyd would never let someone rise to a position where they could criticize them in the first place. It's a stupid idea no matter how you try to spin it. But setting up this talk-show host as a failed V analogue, a more genteel version of the Gordon of the comic, makes it somewhat less stupid.