Published on Jan 6, 2020

Anonymous Mask Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC
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The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot. The plot was an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London on 5 November 1605, in order to restore a Catholic head of state. The use of a mask on an effigy has long roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.

A stylised portrayal of a face with a smile and red cheeks, a wide moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin vertical pointed beard, designed by illustrator David Lloyd, came to represent broader protest after it was used as a major plot element in V for Vendetta, published in 1982, and its 2005 film adaptation. After appearing in Web forums, the mask became a well-known symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous, used in Project Chanology, the Occupy movement, Anonymous for the Voiceless, and other anti-government and anti-establishment protests around the world. This has led to the popular name Anonymous mask.

Since the 2005 release of the film V for Vendetta, the use of stylised Guy Fawkes masks, with moustache and pointed beard, has become widespread internationally among groups protesting against politicians, banks, and financial institutions. The masks both conceal the identity and protect the face of individuals and demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause.

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The character developed as an Internet meme, common on imageboards such as 4chan as well as on video-sharing based Web sites such as YouTube. Initially the character, a stick figure who failed at everything, emerged and became known as “Epic Fail Guy” (EFG). For reasons that have never been explained, it was increasingly shown as wearing a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask (though this is likely a reference to the fact that Guy Fawkes failed to complete the gunpowder plot).

On 17 April 2006 a pair of rival groups wearing Fawkes masks confronted each other outside the New York City offices of Warner Brothers and DC Comics. One group, led by freegan Adam Weismann, protested against a perceived misrepresentation of the Anarchist movement in the film V for Vendetta. The other group, led by libertarian Todd Seavey, counter-protested against the anarchists, wearing masks purportedly supplied by a Time Warner employee.

On April 2016 Anonymous for the Voiceless was created; they also use the mask while spreading veganism.

The mask became associated with the hacktivism group Anonymous’s Project Chanology protests against the Church of Scientology in 2008. The group protested the Church of Scientology in response to the Church forcing YouTube to pull a video of Tom Cruise discussing Scientology that was meant for internal use within the Church. In response, Anonymous protested the litigious methods of the Church of Scientology over a period of several months. Protesters were encouraged to hide their faces, since it was common practice for Church members to photograph anti-Scientology protesters. The Guy Fawkes mask was a widely used method of hiding faces.

As the protests continued, more protesters began opting to use the Guy Fawkes mask, which eventually took on symbolic status within the group.

Scott Stewart of University of Nebraska at Omaha’s The Gateway wrote: “Many participants sported Guy Fawkes masks to draw attention both to their identity as Anonymous and the Church of Scientology’s abuse of litigation and coercion to suppress anti-Scientology viewpoints. The Internet-based group then adopted the character for its wider protests against authority.

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