Indeed, with the help of Anonymous, the mask has become one of the most popular disguises and — in a small way — has added to the $28 billion in revenue Time Warner accumulated last year. It is the top-selling mask on Amazon.com, beating out masks of Batman, Harry Potter and Darth Vader.
“We sell over 100,000 of these masks a year, and it’s by far the best-selling mask that we sell,” said Howard Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume, a New York costume company that produces the mask. “In comparison, we usually only sell 5,000 or so of our other masks.” The Vendetta mask, which sells for about $6 at many retailers, is made in Mexico or China, Mr. Beige said.
Anonymi have been wearing the mask since they went to war with the Church of Scientology in 2008 and staged their first public appearance, standing in silent, Fawked protest outside the Church's Boston headquarters.
“It had a chilling effect. There were literally thousands of people standing silently in front of the Church of Scientology wearing the same Guy Fawkes mask,” according to Gabriella Coleman, an assistant professor at New York University’s department of media, culture and communication. “The photos and videos that appeared in the news from the protests cemented the mask as the symbol of Anonymous.”
Many Anonymi wear the mask, or at least acquired one as a symbol of the movement and virtual membership in something that's more a dissasociative mob shuffling in a roughly common direction, shrinking or growing as sub-groups spin off to attack things they find particularly odious before returning to the almost undefined maelstrom of the whole.
That the maelstrom unintentionally enriches Time Warner for use of the mask symbolizing its opposition to everything Time Warner represents is rich irony.
If I'd thought of that angle I might have written the story myself, though I'd probably have killed the joke halfway through by pointing out that if spending six bucks for a Guy Fawkes mask is an endorsement of Time Warner, paying $80 or $100 a month for Internet access and cell phone service from Verizon or Comcast or Sprint or AT&T are much more direct payments to Corporate America.