Life imitates art

Last night’s news was dominated by coverage of the Dutch royal family’s visit to our proud little city on Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag). Security was ratcheted up to DEFCON 1 as a result of the car attack on the family during last year’s celebrations in Apeldoorn.

Mr B went into town with our oldest two, and had a hard time getting near the market place. Hundreds of police had been bussed in to block every winding lane in the city centre. And those who had gotten through were corralled into pens that prevented them from following the royalty after they walked passed. The TV news showed a couple of vox pops where
locals claimed they agreed with the high security measures, but Mr B heard plenty of disgruntled voices behind the barricades.

By the time I got there — children #3 and #4 have overlapping naps which take up a large part of the day — the royals had left, as had most of the visitors, which just left lots of police officers standing around.

Police overmanning on Queen's Day
No loitering!: Police ambush squad spring into nonchalance as suspect approaches, the only person not wearing orange on Queen's Day in the Netherlands.

Going back to the news last night, the final item caught my attention: it appeared to be a very realistic first-person shooter game, à la Modern Warfare 2, with commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto a ship, and stalking round corners and obstacles looking for targets. In fact it was a video that had just been released by the Dutch Ministry of Defence and showed Dutch marines storming a cargo ship that had been hijacked by Somali pirates. The images were captured from a helmet camera, with a viewpoint that put the viewer in the thick of the action. It was a striking example of how game technology has permeated our perception of events, a contemporary case of anti-mimesis, as described by Oscar Wilde: “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

See for yourself.

By the time I saw the news round midnight, the video had already been blogged and a rough translation provided for the team leader’s commentary:

The marine boarding team received orders to liberate the fifteen crewmen of the merchant Taipan, which was hijacked by ten pirates. The captain and crew of the German-flagged Taipan had locked themselves in their safe room, from where they called for assistance.

The sensor-operator deploys the fast ropeline while the team leader provides covering fire with the MAG GPMG.

Note the ‘landing zone’ of the marines; enough cover to prevent hostile fire, yet not too much to obstruct cover fire. In that respect they were lucky that it was a container ship, and not some bulk-cargo carrier.

Approaching the bridge, they detained six pirates hiding at the lower deck. The marines ordered the pirates to climb through the shot window. Two more pirates were found hiding at the aft deck, and subsequently arrested. A ninth was found on the deck above, and summoned to come down.

A three-man team secured the bridge, and from there they went through the rest of the ship. The marine team-leader further comments on the ravage the pirates caused in their search for valuables, which included shooting up doors and cabinets which were locked.

The weapons the pirates used ranged from handguns, AK-47s, and RPG-7s.

Once the ship was secured the crew of the Taipan came out of the safe room.
(Translation source: Marcase)

The team leader adds that the crew gave them a round of applause, “They were really happy to see us.”

I bet.