In the days before the action we began to realize that we would be able to project not just the 99% symbol, but also words large enough and bright enough for people to read from the bridge. Amazingly, all went as planned, and the action was even more successful that we could have hoped for. The 20,000-strong crowd on the bridge went crazy. We could hear them shouting, cheering, and, yes, “mic-checking.” It was the galvanizing, unifying moment of joy and celebration that we’d hoped to provide this burgeoning global movement for a more just and democratic world. The action was embedded within a movement and played on elements from movement culture — both in style and in substance. The “human mic” and “mic check” were immediately grasped and appreciated. Most of the language came from chants or well known slogans. The “bat signal” itself required no translation. It is already a part of our cultural commons, part of the “spectacular vernacular” of global pop culture, a symbol we all understand to be a call for aid and an outlaw call to arms.
Of course Batman is actually a quasi-sociopathic millionaire vigilante, a one-percenter you might say. But by occupying that symbol with our own content — “99%” — we appropriated it for the rest of us. In this reconfiguration, we are no longer waiting for some superhero, be it a masked vigilante or the first black president, to swoop in and save the day. Rather, we are the response to our own call for aid. It was in the wake of this successful action that The Illuminator was conceived and came into being five months later.