Tragedy as broccoli

Is turning horror into entertainment a way to feel good about something bad? Or is it simply still too soon?


Salon Staff
August 25, 2006 5:53PM (UTC)

Private Life

What Is This OT of Which You Speak? Part V - The Rambling.

bookseller - 09:39 pm Pacific Time - Aug 22, 2006 - #8530 of 8690

I have to say, I am so appalled at these movies that have come out -- the Oliver Stone movie, some movie about the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. To say that I don't want to see them is to make a massive understatement. I realize that I'm in a hypersensitive position here: I literally watched the towers fall from my bedroom window, and my neighborhood stank of particularly unpleasant barbecue --sorry to be blunt, but that's exactly what it smelled like -- for maybe two months afterward. The site didn't stop smoking -- in a plume that was visible 20 blocks uptown -- until about January of 2002. And it was about a year before the posters that covered every single surface, every SINGLE surface of my neighborhood -- the posters of "This is my dad, last seen South Tower 92nd floor any information plese call," "This is a picture of my daughter she works for Aeon Insurance any information please call" "This is my son," "This is my husband," "This is my friend," "This is my niece," "This is my brother" -- it was a good year before those posters melted away in the rain or were scraped down. In the window of my bookstore we still have a picture of my partner's then-5-year-old nephew posing with two of the men from our local fire station. For one of them, it was the last picture of him that was ever taken. There's this big poster of a particularly maudlin poem, written I think by one of the other firemen, called "Danny's Last Weekend," about how he loved playing with Beau (my partner's nephew), sticking his uniform hat on the little boy's head and so on. It's a terrible poem. The fire station was closed for two years, because they lost 2/3 of their men.

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I'm sorry to go on and on like this. It's just that I so hate, am sickened by, the ... not just the commercialization, but the entertainment-ization of this whole hideous business. I can't stand it when people talk about "Ground Zero," as though they needed to give the Trade Towers site some operatic, borrowed-from-the-language-of-nuclear-warfare title in order to make it dramatic. Fuck that. It's plenty dramatic all on its own. It doesn't need to borrow weight or importance from B-movies. I hate fucking tourists asking for directions to "Ground Zero," like they'd ask for directions to Central Park or the Empire State Building. I hate the idea of people sitting in movie theaters stuffing their mouths with popcorn while actors play the firemen from my local fire station.

I guess my feelings are plenty common, certainly common to anyone who has any even tangential connection -- as mine is -- to something hideous, and then watches it being packaged for profit and entertainment. I can't imagine what people who survived the Holocaust or the London Blitz felt about all the WWII movies.

End rant.

lacygirl - 03:38 am Pacific Time - Aug 23, 2006 - #8534 of 8690

I know what Books means; sure, I can watch WWII movies, no problem. But I don't think I could ever watch "Shoah." I mean, any chance of my believing in God -- or at least the Sunday School version of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent God -- disappeared when I was a young teen and first saw Life photographs from the liberation of the camps.

I just shrink when I hear about the schools making fairly young kids learn about the Holocaust. And frankly, that's the reason I pushed to change our mid-level developmental class' outside novel from "The Hiding Place" (life in the camps) to "House of the Scorpion" (young-adult-level sci-fi, but with real-life moral conundrums). My students need a reading experience that will make them want to pick up another book! I really, really don't get this "eat your broccoli" approach to reading assignments.

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coralgarden - 06:51 am Pacific Time - Aug 23, 2006 - #8541 of 8717

Bookseller, I understand. I was downtown on 9/11 and was shook by the earthquake that was the collapse of each tower and the following black cloud that choked us like midnight. The stock exchange was across the street and we thought that was next. I walked home with ashes in my hair. When we went back to work, we sat there with masks on our faces and heaviness in our hearts. We all brought our lunches, afraid to eat anything that might be tainted from the remains. You were afraid of the subways. You had to pass the national guard with their automatic weapons to get into your building. I will never forget.

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