The sub-Hollywood spectacle of the new Batman film - being shot in Wall Street - provides a striking contrast to the unheroic determination of the protesters in Zucotti Park.
This article is part of a series on the #Occupy movements.
Zuccotti Park, in the small Liberty Plaza, is crammed with tents, tourists and radicals of all varieties from revolutionary fundamentalists to Jesus freaks, shouting their warnings and solutions. Towering over it, the shiny new temples of supremacy are arising on the site of the World Trade Centre. Around it, police are idling as their mobile surveillance tower peers in. And just across Broadway, Wall Street is closed off through the weekend: "It's been bought for the day", a policeman said to me on Saturday, adding "that's New York".
The centre of America's financial system is indeed occupied. Only this weekend it has been rented - by the producers of Dark Knight Rises, the latest Batman movie. Through the day a thousand or so extras, dressed as Gotham City SWAT teams, battle it out with brutalised insurgents and artificial snow. Between Wall Street and Pine Street, just to the north, there is a public atrium above the Wall Street subway station. Inside, away from the cold and shouting, groups of serious young occupiers are sitting in circles, debating and learning. I glanced up to see, on the other side of the plate glass that looks out onto Wall Street itself, the Batmobile, in full military camouflage.
On Sunday, looking up New Street towards the Stock Exchange, the ground is littered with the bodies of the bad guys, as the Batmobile cruises down (I managed a blurred picture on my phone). A sequence later Anne Hathaway in long leather pants and a black eyemask whose vulgarity would have been scorned by Anonymous protestors, roars past with more sound than speed on vast bike - Catwoman unable to rely on her own paws.
As Hollywood indulges in its idealised battle over the control of capitalism, with a passive citizenry forced to choose between two kinds of violence, a very different, determinedly unheroic but potentially profound process is unfolding in the Atrium. The contrast with Zuccotti Park is striking. There, a sub-Hollywood voyeurism and spectator tourism is being acted out, to the sound of incessant, mind-numbing drumming and flag-waving, in what passes as public discourse in a now dumbed down USA.
But the best of American scrupulousness and dedication to process and inclusion is underway as the protestors gather and talk away from the noise, preparing their own, far better democracy.
The public impact of the messages from the Occupy movement seems indigestible and is going to take different forms in different countries. Here in America it is growing. For a start it has money. Occupy Wall Street has been sent half a million dollars in donations and it is now working out how to deploy these resources. I watched as a young black woman from Harlem asked about raising the needs of an occupation in Harlem where the landlords had turned off the heating. It seemed very likely that the Assembly would give them the $2,000 they need for space heaters, blankets and renewed internet. On Saturday they decided to spend $20,000 on large military tents to replace the small two-person igloos in Zuccotti Park, and this will increase security in the Park as well (there have been a couple of cases of sexual assaults and, as we know, the Hells Angels are a US reserve force).
The same contrast is true of the London St Paul's occupation. What matters is less the encampment and its internal character - although these will have an effect - than the larger consequences of a new generation saying that the capitalist system isn't working and is wrong, when evidently it isn't working and it is wrong. Replacing it will take time, thought and hard work. That is the message of the towers of Liberty Plaza.
But here and across North America, below the headlines and away from the drumming, a new network is forming determined not to allow its own representation to be stolen from and to be its own message: "this is what democracy looks like.".