Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ashes of American Flags

Well, it’s the sixth anniversary of the worst day ever. Rather than bore you with details of where I was and what I was doing when the 9/11 attacks happened, I thought it would be interesting on this blog to look at the cultural response to that day: what kinds of movies and music and other art have come up as a result.

The trouble is, I can’t.

Not because I’m still an emotional wreck or anything, I just haven’t seen any of the 9/11 movies, or bought any of the 9/11 inspired CDs. I can’t think of any traditional art like paintings and sculptures because I don’t follow those scenes.

I can think of three fictional movies that are a direct response to 9/11: United 93 (which I skipped despite good reviews because I’m a wuss and thought it would upset me), World Trade Center (which I skipped because I can’t stand Nicholas Cage), and Great New Wonderful (which is somewhere in the bowels of my Netflix queue and is only vaguely a 9/11 film anyway). Michael Moore made his Moore-u-mentary Fahrenheit: 9/11, but even though I enjoyed that, I think it was inspired by more of a hatred of the Bush administration than an artistic response the events.

As far as music, I can mostly only think of Toby Keith, who I don’t listen to. Bruce Springsteen had that album The Rising, but I didn’t buy it. Singer/songwriter M. Ward has an album called Post War, but I think that’s more a reference to the Iraq war, as are some of the more politically charged offerings from Bright Eyes, Pearl Jam and other socially conscious bands. I watched that concert, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” a few weeks after the attacks but I can’t really recall specific performances.

There’s a crap-load of 9/11 books, but as far as artistic renderings in prose, the only one I’ve really seen and read is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s a good book, but it made me think more of loss in general than 9/11 specifically. Maybe that was the point.

Honestly, the only “artistic” response to 9/11 to stick with me came out two weeks after the attacks. Full disclosure: I’m totally that annoying co-worker who sends people links to articles in The Onion that no one finds as hilarious as I do, but that fake newspaper came out with a 9/11 edition that month that just blew me away. The articles expressed everything I was feeling: disbelief (“American Life turns into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie”); vengefulness (“Hijackers Surprised to find Selves in Hell”); and sadness (“God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule”) with The Onion’s trademark scathing humor and also a touching dose of humanity. The issue got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

One of the best parts about that 9/11 issue of The Onion was that it signaled a turning point. After a few weeks of shock and despair, it digested the events and said it was OK to laugh again. Maybe some of the movies, books and songs do that too, but I wouldn’t know. I guess I should give them a shot.


Red said...

I saw both World Trade Center and United 93 recently. Both are really good...and really tough. I think I preferred the realism of United 93, but World Trade Center is def worth watching, too. Nick Cage is bearable I promise...

Nooch said...

I know of one good 9/11 song out there. It is by this Irish Band here in NY (I am pretty sure I dragged you to a show the one and only time they played in Boston). The band is called Shilelagh Law - the song is "Christmas in NY". I am not one to get emtional but this song has been known to give me goosebumps. I am pretty sure it can been downloaded on itunes if anyone is interested.