For better or for worse, authorities are there to enforce rules upon us all. They tell us that we must comply, or we must pick up that can and put it in the bin. They tell us that we’d best do as they say, or they’ll lock us up, or worse, kill us. Regardless of how you feel about this, authorities have a simple goal: To lead people, through either inspiration or fear.
Well, we don’t fear them here, as we are taking a look at our Top 10 Plots To Overthrow Authority. Before we delve deep into these schemes, it’s worth pointing out that ‘authority’ does not have to be a government, or royalty. It can be anything that’s in charge of anything, but it has to have some form of governing body.
It’s hard to rebel against an oppressive force, harder still when that force has persuaded you to surrender your impetus and passion, your very lust for freedom. The Tetragrammaton Council, under the watchful eye of “Father” presides over a human race that has given over its emotions in the pursuit of peace, no more grief or greed, hatred or prejudice, love or joy…
Christian Bale accidentally comes off the drugs keeping him Vulcan after a particularly trying week, and in the process becomes an ally of the Underground movement of people seeking art, music, and poetry, seeking ways and means of tearing down the emotionless tyranny of Father. To get Bale close enough to Father to strike, the rebellion leaders offer to turn themselves in, allowing him to take the credit and rise in favour, and it almost… almost works. The system collapses in a hail of gunfire and whirling blades, but in the end humanity returns to its usual chaotic self.
Love it or hate it, WWE and indeed all of professional wrestling has infiltrated into mainstream media. If you don’t believe me, go have a look at lineups for a lot of the UK based Comic Con’s out there. Trust me – You’ll see a lot more wrestling signings than you would probably have thought logical. The divide between superheroes and WWE ‘Superstars’ have become increasingly blurred.
From the days of the Attitude Era, right to the current PG iteration we’ve got, WWE loves a good story about an underdog overcoming authority. The most recent example of one man overcoming the authority was Daniel Bryan, who was really the epicentre of a lot of shenanigans from the King of Kings, Triple H. This culminated at WrestleMania, because everything does, when Daniel Bryan beat out two of the top stars, hand-picked by ‘The Authority’ might I add, of the company in Batista and Randy Orton – After he beat Triple H earlier in the night.
The crowd. Went. Nuts. He was the champion the audience wanted – And the audience participated in a plan to get Daniel Bryan into the match – By forming the “Yes Movement”. The movement was too big to ignore – And that was the plan all along. Let the voice of the people be heard.
8) Mayor Cobblepot – Batman Returns
How better to usurp the powers that be than by a well thought out and fiscally sound political campaign? It’s your classic Pied Piper bit, infest a town with criminals under your pay, then set yourself up as the hero who can bring an end to the crime wave you started. Throw in some glorious redemption arc, reclaiming your name, paint a human face over the monster raised by flightless birds.
Masterminded by the diabolical Max Schrek so that he’d have a mayor that he could control to greenlight his various projects, Schrek carefully guides the animalistic Penguin to the high-society Cobblepot. They’re ultimately foiled of course, because Batman, but in the meantime we are made to realise that we will never be able to have another Penguin on screen. DeVito was just too good!
Framed for the death of the Empress, Corvo Atano sets about a plot to clear his name, uncover the truth, and sit the rightful heir on the throne. As he cuts a bloody swathe across Dunwall he uncovers the plot lead by Hiram Burrows the Spymaster, and the mystic assassin Daud, a plague wrought upon the vulnerable populous, the Empress dead, and her most loyal and dangerous servant strung up for the crime.
Oh, but that’s not all, because the rebellious group who help Corvo bring down the Lord Regent Burrows then turn on him too, seating themselves on the throne until they find him knocking on their door once again. Fast forward to Dishonored 2, as you face a coup by Luca Abele of Serkonos and Delilah “Kaldwin”, and then again in Death of the Outsider, in which you slay the god who puppeteers the whole sworded affair.
6) Rocky Horror Picture Show
Surprise entrant which managed to wrangle its way higher than we expected; Rocky Horror Picture Show is a fantastic story which, if you’ve not yet seen live, you really must. It’s a great night out, filled with songs, people dressed in some of the most outlandish outfits and of course, crude humour. Take some friends, or take your family, everyone can enjoy this show – But what on Earth constitutes ‘Plots To Overthrow Authority’ about this?
If you’ve seen this show, you’ll be aware of the plot of the story. Brad and Janet are stranded, they approach Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s humble abode who invites them in and gets them involved in his strange rituals. Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s Faithful Handyman, Riff Raff, and his sister, Magenta, were loyal throughout – Right until the very end. Riff Raff and Magenta reveal they’re from space, as you do. They reveal they had been plotting to end Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s life for a while – And so… They do so. Okay, it’s not such an elaborate plan, but the two of them schemed to do this, whilst maintaining their guise as faithful servants.
5) The Little Mermaid
Under the sea, there is a king of the Mermaids. The princess Ariel meets a man whom she becomes infatuated with, but there’s only one catch. She’s a Mermaid and the man she meets is, well, not. He’s a land dweller, which is why Sebastian the crab decides that he has to have an impromptu song and dance about how it is better where it is wetter. Really, out of context, that sounds pretty dreadful…
Regardless, Ariel seeks out the Sea Witch, Ursula. Of course, as per any good plot to overthrow authority goes, you should always start by finding chinks in the armour of the authority that sits upon the throne. Perhaps they’re arrogant? Perhaps they’re weaker than you? Or perhaps you can get someones daughter to fall madly in love with a man on the surface and force her to live her life as a human, thereby making her and the king miserable. Then, she could take that throne and be the all powerful leader of Atlantica.
It wasn’t a bad idea, to be honest.
4) The Hunger Games
This one had to get into our list, because when you think about a story of overthrowing authority, Hunger Games has to factor in somewhat. Not quite making our Top 3, for reasons you’ll see shortly, Hunger Games is a story where a male and a female tribute break all of the laws of the games by not accepting the fact there can only be one winner. No, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark both survive together.
This is an accidental plot, which actually later on turns into a much bigger thing. Effectively, the original goal was for one victor only, but then the law of the game changed, allowing two people from the same district to win together. As such, the pairing of Katniss and Peeta would always have a chance at making it through the games, much to the chagrin of the authorities. With this rule change and with Katniss and Peeta winning the games, the authorities slowly begin to crumble. It doesn’t take long for the districts to decide that the Capitol was not needed any more, with Katniss at the helm of the rebellion that she unwittingly formed in the first place.
3) The Matrix
The rebellion against reality, the free people of Zion work in and outside of the Matrix to free as many citizens as they can to destabilize the system of human harvesting machines. Reduced to a small guerrilla force taking the war back to the artificial intelligence that now rules the earth, humans now cling to the spirituality and mythos seemingly woven into the very code of the elaborate simulation keeping people in the billions peacefully slumbering until they find the man they call The Chosen One, Neo.
Neo’s very existence is a huge upset to the ticking machinery of the Matrix, and he sends the subroutine “Smith” on a viral, self-replicating rampage. Ok, so it was an accident, but he has the presence of mind to use it as a bartering chip with the central AI to end aggressions against Zion. The overall authority of the AI may never be broken in The Matrix trilogy, but the people are free, and the resistance persists.
As do the conspiracy theories.
2) Star Wars
When you think of Star Wars, you think of two major factions: The Empire and The Rebels. From the infamous theft of The Empire’s Death Star plans, to the explosion of the Death Star, the Empire and Rebels are constantly fighting one another. Throughout all of the films, we follow the basic plot of the Rebels in their Alliance to Restore the Republic. It’s undergone name changes, location changes, commanding officer changes – It’s been through a lot.
However, the joy of Star Wars is that the oppressed people of the universe get their own back. They get to not only plot to capture plans, or defeat specific targets, but they always manage to end up on top. With casualties on both sides being so common, Star Wars is hard to pinpoint a moment of where the best plot against authority stands. However, it’s hard to argue that Star Wars, as a whole, deserves to be in these top spots…
… Although, there is one more title more fitting for the top spot of this Top 10 list, considering the theme of this week’s article.
1) V For Vendetta
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate.
How do you free a people? Is it in violent uprising, military coup, anarchy in the streets, cities on fire? Or do you free them in the heart, and in the mind? Do you show them the truth that has been hidden from them for so long, laying seeds of dissent to blossom and thrive, and then simply ensure that all are present when you create an opportunity for them?
V, a mystery, an enigma, searching for the truth of his past and taking the opportunity to topple the very regime that robbed him of everything, life, memory, and skin, a man born in flames to wreak bloody havoc upon the monsters who made a man. And those he seeks to tear down preach xenophobia and a hatred of the “other” and different, empower the few to oppress the many, while dangling enough baubles in the media and painting such terrible pictures of how it could be that the many give thanks for the boots on their necks.
Only a little upset is required to watch the government go mad with panic, and once afraid they show themselves for who they really are. With one final sacrifice, and a grand gesture of unity spread to the people of Britain, V posthumously brings together a people divided! And also he blows up parliament from underneath. Remember, remember…
With the emperor’s having fallen, the kings having lost their grooves and the governments having collapsed, it’s time for us to admire the plots that worked against them. Of course, not all of them were successful – But following on from the above, here are two more plots which, on the face of things, doesn’t really get off the ground so much – As there’s always something stopping the complete eradication of authority.
When you think about plots to overthrow authority, you might not think it’d go so far as to wanting to be a superior race as a whole. With the mutants being on one side of this and humans on the other, Xavier’s school is all about having a safe place for mutants and to be generally respected by humans and not feared. This is great and all, so there’s literally no usurping of positions of authority or even murder. How pleasant…
Meanwhile, if you fall under the Magneto camp, then you view things a little bit differently. Feel like assassinating a president? Sounds good – Make them humans fear mutants. Show them the power of the mutants and prove to the whole of the human race as to why mutants are better than them. It’s a strange use of ‘authority’, but with humans being more common, they are effectively the ‘authority’ in this case. Typically, Magneto’s crew targets high profile humans – Politicians, generals; basically people in positions of power. With those targets eliminated, the world would be free for mutants to be mutants.
The Horus Heresy
The God Emperor of Mankind sits dying but never dead in a golden throne that sustains His existence. A divine figure of unimaginable power, who could reduce such an immense being to so lowly a stature? Only His own child, highest amongst His Primarchs, Warmaster to the Emperor, Horus Lupercal.
Horus famously fell to the sway of chaos, and now corrupted, and thirsty for power, he turned upon his father in an unashamedly symbolic rebellion in which he and many of his brothers were banished to far flung and dangerous territories, but not before reducing the Emperor to a barely living husk. The Horus Heresy is the central plot-point of Warhammer 40K and now has its own additions to the game, including models for most of the Primarchs, even the traitor Horus himself.
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