Thursday, December 11, 2008
The twentieth century has seen the rise of the SuperHero in humanity's collective conscious. Comic Books, movies, cartoons, video games - what person on this planet cannot name at least one of these fictional heroes? I just finished reading Alan Moore's "Watchmen," a graphic novel (also listed as one of Time's 100 best novels of the 20th Century) which weaves a complex thread of self-styled superheroes - men and women who cannot fly or leap tall buildings - but who are just people who want to make a difference, either for moral purposes or simply just for kicks. I enjoyed it immensely and found it to be the type of book that lingers in your mind long after you've turned the last page.
So I just came across this article which made me think of it, and what fascinated me the most was the list at the bottom of "masked avengers" currently active in their little part of the globe. I don't know, it just makes me smile that people still care so much that they'll go to great lengths to right a wrong, fight crime with crime. Or at least throw a pie in its face.
From the Guardian:
The £12m defences of the most heavily guarded power station in Britain have been breached by a single person who, under the eyes of CCTV cameras, climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading "no new coal". He walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence.
All power from the coal and oil-powered Kingsnorth station in Kent was halted for four hours, in which time it is thought the mystery saboteur's actions reduced UK climate change emissions by 2%. Enough electricity to power a city the size of Bristol was lost.
Yesterday the hunt was on for the man dubbed "climate man" or the "green Banksy". Climate activists responsible for hijacking coal trains and breaking on to runways said they knew nothing about the incident.
Even veterans of some of the most audacious direct actions, such as the scaling of the Kingsnorth chimney, are mystified. The station operator E.On professed astonishment that a lone activist would be daring enough to try to do something so potentially dangerous. Medway police said they had no suspects but were still investigating the incident, which took place on November 28.
"It was extremely odd indeed, quite creepy. We have never known anything like this at all, but it shows that if people want to do something badly enough they will find a way," said Emily Highmore, a spokeswoman for E.On.
Should "climate man" ever show up, he will be feted for what activists say was the most daring individual action of the year. "We have no idea who he is - but we really want to know. Everybody's asking 'where were you on Friday November 28'," said Ben Stewart of Greenpeace, one of six people arrested for climbing the 76 metre (250ft) chimney of the Kingsnorth station early last year but found not guilty of criminal damage in November. "We would never act anonymously," he added.
Notorious, but nameless
The Kingsnorth intruder joins a select group of "caped crusaders" who do their work without their names becoming widely known
Banksy: The graffiti artist whose work has attracted worldwide attention has taken his subversive style from urban Britain to the West Bank. He was recently unmasked by a Sunday paper, but after years of arresting images he has almost been elevated to status of national treasure.
Captain Gatso: The controversial leader of protest group Mad (Motorists Against Detection) has stoned, superglued, sprayed and ringed with burning tyres more than 1,000 roadside speed cameras in an eight-year campaign.
Superbarrio: Billed by his supporters as "faster than a speeding turtle and able to leap small speed bumps in a single bound", the flabby caped crusader in cherry red tights traverses the streets of Mexico City, defending the working class, the poor and the homeless. "I can't stop a plane or a train single-handed, but I can keep a family from being evicted," he said.
The Biotic Baking Brigade: A loosely connected group of leftwing activists, famous for throwing pies in the faces of such figures as the Microsoft's Bill Gates, the San Francisco mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom and the Swedish King Carl Gustaf. The group's members have been active on animal rights and ecology issues as well as in feminist movements.