Defense part II: Dress for success.

Today we get a bit of a follow up on the last posts’ discussion on American attitudes towards personal and civic safety, and connecting the dots with previously mentioned and linked items.

First, Phoenix Jones is back in the news. For those not familiar with him and the Rain City Superhero movement, this interview and video are probably as good an intro as any (sorry, embedding isn’t working).

And yes, this is a part of a national movement. If the kind of civic self defense I mentioned in the last post is becoming mainstream, then the real-life superhero movement is the radical fringe- and let’s face it, while they’re literally off base, any movement is going to have some sort of radical fringe that trickles down in to a more stable, acceptable manner in the larger population.

Today’s news is about Phoenix Jones getting his nose broken while being held at gunpoint.

There’s a difference between doing what you have to when trouble comes to you, and doing what you can to seek it out- a difference dictated by profession for some (in Law Enforcement, for example), but by choice for others. That’s their choice to make, but certainly not something I’m going to publicly advocate… and yet I do like what it speaks to in our culture: the idea that we don’t want to just sit back and let Kitty Genovese die this time. I considered and briefly pursued a career in law enforcement, partly due to the personal revelation (brought on in part by mall shootings in my area) that I didn’t like the idea of running away from the problem when things went bad… that at least a part of me wanted to be one of the ones going to make it better. The advantage of looking for trouble is you can prepare- ballistic codpiece, distinctive uniform, taser baton and all. The disadvantage is that you are more likely to find it, and it may not fight on your terms… which is when well-intentioned people get hurt.

Apparently the mask isn't reinforced...

Phoenix makes a good point about the uniform serving as identification to responders, so he isn’t shot by the police (at least not by accident, anyway). Capitalism being even more near and dear to our society than beating up bad-guys, there’s of course places now catering to the superhero market in need of threads, like HEROGEAR. The close call in the Gifford shooting shows how close that can be- and how it’s not always the police who are the first armed responders you have to consider. In that sense, all this publicity helps him. Granted, now anyone on the street also knows he has a ballistic vest and ballistic codpiece, so they’re more likely to shoot him somewhere more immediately dangerous.

There have been similar phenomena in the past, but different… in the 70s it was social collectives, with groups like the Black Panthers (any racial politics aside, neighborhood protection was a part of what they did) and the Guardian Angels, and the Pink Panthers. It seems like in the 90s and 00s we heard more about radical militia movements centered more around religious or political paranoia than community protection, but perhaps we’re now coming back to a place of personal and communal protection. Frankly I’ll take well-meaning vigilante wackos over religious or political wackos any day.

Lastly, an aside for more of my history and sword geek friends, but somewhat related to superhero costumes: I was glancing again at the National Geographic promo video for the The Medieval Fightbook.  The uniform used in the male/female duel looked somehow wrong… it’s too loose. I remember hearing somewhere (perhaps Tony Wolf at a Paddy Crean, when he was talking about wrestling with the sword?) that the outfits illustrated in Talhoffer were tight leather, and greased. Whether true or not, the baggy cloth of the tv episode doesn’t look right.

He looks so happy- it must be the tight leather outfit she's wearing.

At any rate, if you were going to patrol the streets as a costumed vigilante, wouldn’t you choose the tight leather?

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