Oh no! Aliens!

...but it's aliens.

I saw a clip of this on TLC tonight. It cracked me up…

Bournemouth was the first town in Britain in which closed circuit television was installed in public places. In 1985, Bournemouth people welcomed it, but in the last few years some have begun to suspect that it is being used less for deterrence than for surveillance. One young man found that the cameras would swivel to follow him all the way to the shops and back, then rise to watch him in his flat. He investigated and discovered that, after 11 years, the government had still not issued any guidelines on the use of CCTV.

He might, like his neighbours, have simply drawn the curtains, made grumbling comparisons to 1984 and hoped the problem would go away, but he decided instead to get even. He set off down the Christchurch Road one night dressed as an eight-foot alien, equipped with latex tentacles and metal jaws. His friends secretly filmed him – and the cameras – from a balcony.

The cameras locked on as soon as he appeared. Within five minutes, two police cars skidded to a halt in front of him. The police got out, then realized there was nothing they could do but gawp. No crime had been committed, and no danger to the public was apparent. When the film the activists made appeared on Undercurrents – a direct action video newsreel – Bournemouth police became a national laughing stock. The cameras have stayed up, but they are a lot less frightening than before.

January 27, 2002

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