Skip

If you have dignity, the terrorists have already won
September 10, 2002 10:02 AM   Subscribe

If you have dignity, the terrorists have already won Ted Rall writes about the cheesification of 9/11.
posted by hmgovt (40 comments total)

 
Ted Rall is one of those writers/cartoonists where it's very hard to have a middle-ground position. You either love him or hate him, or, in the case of many of his cartoons, you can take oneof either possible sides he presents (his cartoons are weird that way sometimes.)

I am without doubt in the former. I love his work, and I read this column a few days ago and found it to be one of his best ever.

(And as a side note to those who dislike Rall, I've met him once or twice and he really is a very nice and non-sarcastic person. His wife is one of the nicest people I've ever met.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:05 AM on September 10, 2002


from the article:

By the end of 9-11-02, you may wish Osama had killed you.

Well, no.
posted by plexi at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2002


One business "is naming conference rooms after employees who were lost on 9-11."

Actually, I think this a fairly quiet and non-cheesy gesture. Seems like Ted might be fishing for things to get outraged about here. Some of these are spot on though, and I will probably be gritting my teeth through most of tomorrow.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2002


Well, they say adversity reveals true character, right?
posted by frallyth at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2002


My planned actvities for tomorrow include going to work as usual while my wife stays home to supervise the laying of new linolium in the kitchen. In the evening we plan to light a candle and set it out on the front porch.
We've got some good movies on video so we won't have to watch any network TV tomorrow night.
posted by TCMITS at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2002


I, for one, am anxious to hear how Bush's post-9-11 policies, which involve sucking up to brutal dictators in Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia while plotting a coup against the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, promote liberty throughout the world.
Me too, but I have strange feeling he's not going to tell us...
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2002


I was with him until he dissed the Blue Man Group video.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2002


I can somewhat understand where he is coming from. All week here at work, I see people wearing 9/11 t-shirts of some sort or another. I find that fairly lame.
Personally, I could do without the tear jerking BS that is about to be unleashed.
posted by a3matrix at 10:24 AM on September 10, 2002


I will probably not turn on the TV at all tomorrow. I've got to go with pretty much everything in the article.. although I agree that the conference room renaming is actually a pretty low-key, non-cheesy, nice thing.
posted by rich at 10:25 AM on September 10, 2002


I am with Ted all the way on this one. I don’t recall any conference rooms being named after the Oklahoma City victims, or the first world trade center bombing. Oh, that’s right. More than 1,000 American lives have to be lost before we pay tribute with some corny candlelight walk. America pretends to value human life and fight for human rights over seas, but revenge in the name of Afghani lives and Iraqi lives makes everything o.k. BUHHH!
posted by bmxGirl at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2002


This thread should be merged into the earlier Lewis Lapham thread, since they're fundamentally the same. Might as well throw Susan Sontag's rant into the mix as well.

My comments about emotional fascism from the other thread apply to all three, just change the names.

That those annoying car-flags changed from sports teams to American flags seems perfectly appropriate, the replacing of sports team logos with NYFD, NYPD and PAPD logos also seems fine. Everyone should be free to live however they want, unless they're your neighbors?
posted by joemaller at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2002


"and ABC Family's griefsploitation piece "Love Legacy: The Babies of 9-11," which takes a "look at the pregnant wives left widowed on that day." Check your local listings."

This miffed me several weeks ago when it aired on Primetime Thursday (I think). My Mefi post on the show disappeared within an hour of posting. Never figured out why.
posted by sharksandwich at 10:48 AM on September 10, 2002


one might expect the Massachusetts Port Authority to come up with a more appropriate sign of respect for the victims--say, hiring people smarter than stones to scan baggage correctly. But no. A runway of briefly stalled planes will have to do.

I'm sorry, that has to be the funniest thing I've read all day. I had one of those "maybe I shouldn't be laughing about that" moments while reading this. Those are just the best...
posted by thanotopsis at 10:59 AM on September 10, 2002


It's strange that some people want to deny the incredible emotional impact that seeing those towers come down had on the country. It wasn't just the loss of life, which was horrific, it was the stark reality of death in front of all of us that day that had such a huge impact. If, say, 3,000 people had been bombed from the sky under cover of night, it is less likely that America's reaction would be so extreme. But that, in a way, this is a good thing, as it made many who were out of touch with random violence connect with the terrible impact violence can have on the human soul.

"cheese" is a natural response to grief, lord knows the death industry has been captilizing on our love of cheese for years. My view is, if it helps people, so be it. I think the people of this country are smart enough to separate genuine, heartfelt cheese from disingenous velveeta. It seems that Ted Rall has less faith than I in the people of the nation.

I hope that people will be more sensitive to the violence that others face around the world and in our own country by seeing the grief caused by the terrorists on that day. I think that this will no doubt be the case for many.
posted by cell divide at 11:02 AM on September 10, 2002


Ted Rall's targets always seem kind of random.
- Logan airport for 'allowing' 2 of the 4 the hijackings and having a one-minute pause in plane movement on 9-11?
- West Hollywood/LA residents for having a neighborhood memorial that they may or may not walk to?

I've met him once or twice and he really is a very nice and non-sarcastic person.
So he's got MPD. Good for him.
posted by shoos at 11:12 AM on September 10, 2002


Loved it.

This is one of those times when dewy montages accompanied by "touching music" just make my stomach turn. All I can imagine is a room full of video editors sitting at their consoles while some choad with a clipboard instructs them on when to swell the strings and freeze on the image of the teddy bear for maximum impact.

I can't comprehend how that must make people's families feel-- to have their pain re-packaged and sold back to them as a "tribute." Completely repulsive.
posted by merlinmann at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2002


"I can't comprehend how that must make people's families feel-- to have their pain re-packaged and sold back to them as a "tribute." Completely repulsive."

Good point, something I've never considered, the more I think about it, it's a really good point.
posted by Blake at 11:27 AM on September 10, 2002


bmxGirl: What is the point of your post? Do you not want the corny candlelight walks or do you?

I don't recall any conference rooms being named after the Oklahoma City victims, or the first world trade center bombing.

And what? One company of the hundreds that held residence in the WTC is naming some of their conference rooms after some fallen comrades. What's the big deal?

Oklahoma could have done the same... they didn't. So what?

I can understand where people are coming from when it comes to bashing all the commercial styled BS in the mourning of the terrorist attacks. But I don't understand why everyone feels so hip and better than other people because they don't participate in mourning anymore.

Just because someone isn't over it doesn't make them a simpleton or a lesser being or whatever it is you like to think they are.

It's just as much bandwagon bullshit to act superior for being over it than it is to go to some candlelight vigil and paying your respects. A plastic Pentagon dashboard statue with a cheesy saying may be a bit much. But remembering and mourning tomorrow on the ONE YEAR anniversary is perfectly acceptable.
posted by Witty at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2002


But hey, it's "The American Way"-repackage, resell, rebrand, reuse, recycle (but never in the good sense), and most of all: buy, buy, buy. Merlinmann is absolutely correct: it is repulsive.
posted by tgrundke at 11:37 AM on September 10, 2002


If the media overlords turned 9-11 grief into cheese, isn't it fair to say that Ted Rall turns cheese into fondue? Since we do seem to be scooping it up here.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2002


and ABC Family's griefsploitation piece "Love Legacy: The Babies of 9-11," which takes a "look at the pregnant wives left widowed on that day."

If only ABC were daring and gutsy enough to expose these widows for the money-grubbing, publicity-seeking media whores they are. Where would we be without alternative cartoonists like Rall to look at these events in a sensitive, non-exploitative way?
posted by transona5 at 11:46 AM on September 10, 2002


DenOfSizer: Well put! Amen!
posted by Witty at 11:53 AM on September 10, 2002


I can't comprehend how that must make people's families feel-- to have their pain re-packaged and sold back to them as a "tribute."

Maybe it makes them feel better to know people care. That sometimes happens, I hear.
posted by kindall at 12:23 PM on September 10, 2002


Suite suffering cheeses. First Lapham, now Rall. Chomsky's and Vidal's commemorative offerings are an inevitability, I suppose. Oh well, if I wanted rational links I could stick with Glenn Reynolds.

You know people, you can shun the bathos served up by the popular media without descending to the Amerika-hating of Rall, Chomsky, etc. I still think the best essay on a Left approach to September 11 is Michael Walzers "Can There Be a Decent Left", now sadly gone from the Dissent site. But Adam Shatz's "The Left and 9/11" now on the Nation's site points a way as well.
posted by mojohand at 12:28 PM on September 10, 2002


I think a lot of us don't like being told how to grieve. I for one don't need the help of swelling strings and waving flags to remember those who died last year. These TV specials are like little Unhappy Meals™, pre-packaged, homogenized, focus-group tested to push the right emotional buttons on the greatest number of viewers. They deserve to be loathed.

And I'm not over it Witty - it's just insulting that ABC assumes that I -no we - need their help and guidance to come to terms with tragedy. I'm never going to get over 9-11, but that doesn't mean I need a Prime Time Special to salve my grief.
posted by junkbox at 12:35 PM on September 10, 2002


Then don't watch. Grieve in your own way. NO ONE is telling you how to do anything. You just don't like how OTHER people need/want to grieve... and therefore think it's ok to bash it. How is it insulting? I find comments from people like you (on this topic) more insulting than anything a TV station could put together. ABC and the others are putting together their little programs and offering it to you to watch... not forcing.

I'm going to lay in bed with my girlfriend and read.
posted by Witty at 12:41 PM on September 10, 2002


Fondue: the shish kebab for the culturally elite! (or the fans of cheese).

He seems to be grasping at straws for parts of the article--renaming a conference room (or rooms) to honor the dead doesn't seem that tawdry. On other spots he's absolutely bang on, so I guess you take the good with the bad.
posted by The God Complex at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2002


I'm going to lay in bed with my girlfriend and read.

Is that what you kids call it these days? I always see those speed-reading, photo-memory paid advertisements on television late at night. A word of advice: the ladies don't like it nearly so much when you speed read.
posted by The God Complex at 12:44 PM on September 10, 2002


Depends.
posted by Witty at 12:50 PM on September 10, 2002


Touche. Rather than derail the thread, I think I'll go lay in bed by myself and read.
posted by The God Complex at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2002


Rall may be a bitter pill to swallow, but his cynicism is often right on the money.
posted by McBain at 1:10 PM on September 10, 2002


I'm not bashing the way anyone else chooses to grieve - I'm bashing the maudlin quality of network television.

We live in a television culture, and the fact is that millions of
Americans will spend tomorrow night watching teevee, regardless of what the networks produce (the good, the bad, and the ugly). With an assumed audience of millions, I just wish the networks could put together something better. That way, I might actually choose to watch.
posted by junkbox at 1:31 PM on September 10, 2002


thanks to a borrowed laptop i am in bed, reading this damn weblog and listening to the specials. boyfriend at work, cats instead, meow !

personally i'm doing absolutely nothing to mark 9/11. but i'm the anti-special-date girl in general - zoran forgets our 7 year anniversary...? no biggie, so did i...! (we still aren't even sure what day it is, doh). it's not like i'm ever going to forget what it was like getting up at 8:30am last year, blearily turning on the news only to find myself a few minutes later witlessly screaming no! no! no! over and over, or that sick feeling which lasted for days while we located our friends and family who live and or work in the area. but others aren't like that and i don't think they should be bagged on for needing some sort of commemoration, cringeworthyâ?¢ or not. of course the media is going to go overboard and flip out... that's what they do for a living, regardless of the issue at hand, and that's why there's an on/off button on your tv/radio/computer.

i'm over it! i'm not over it! the media sucks! well ok, fine, you know...? take the day and handle it in your own way, turn everyone else's noises off.
posted by t r a c y at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2002


The Media blitz has been pretty awful, but at the same time, I don't automatically think that someone wearing a flag tomorrow is an asshole or George Bush's personal bitch. ( I'll wait until they open their mouth to make that decision...).
posted by stifford at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2002


I don't think the issue is really that people want to commemorate September 11 in some way. But when networks begin competing with animated headlines, a la the Persian Gulf War, each trying to find the best angle that will get the most viewers; well, it's just annoying.
posted by rich at 2:00 PM on September 10, 2002


This is cheesy.

This is not.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:23 PM on September 10, 2002


Secret Life of Gravy: Spot on!

Worryingly the Crystalle Collection New York Skyline Sculpture is out of stock...meaning someone must have bought it...
posted by hnnrs at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2002


...well, it was out of stock...so they made more?
posted by hnnrs at 7:11 PM on September 10, 2002


Tragedy sells, and this is the U.$.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:53 PM on September 10, 2002


I can understand where people are coming from when it comes to bashing all the commercial styled BS in the mourning of the terrorist attacks. But I don't understand why everyone feels so hip and better than other people because they don't participate in mourning anymore.

Hrm, I've experienced my share of horror and I don't know of many people who grieve in the trite, flambuoyant ways that Rall was criticizing. Perhaps I'm cynical about corporate naming rights given that the state professional football stadium is named for company that packed up its production in the states for Mexico leading a large sector of the economy unemployed. And wow, a complete one minute delay at Logan airport.

The reason why I am critical (although mostly in private) of all of this bullshit is not because I feel that I want to put a timeframe on grief. But primarily because the media circus and many organizations are turning the event into a gauche sideshow, a shallow parody of what people who grieve go through. Entertainment metaphors aren't strong enough, the mass media approach to dealing with grief is necrophillic, the producers and hosts of the programs ghouls feeding on the memories of the bereaved, the advertisers vampires leaching away any true emotion or healing.

You know what would be a true honor to the dead? If all of the networks went off the air, knocking off this vicarious sharing bullshit and encouraged people to actually engage in the kinds of meaningful conversation that are very difficult with that constant monstrous babbling that comes out of the television set most days, much less on a day when it makes a big theatrical show of shedding crocodile tears. It would be a true remembrance if instead of yet another workday, it was a day to remember and mourn. If it was a day for religious observance, for masses and meetings, pilgrimages and pondering, for letting go what we lost and cherishing what we have left.

Now then granted, the certainly is a free country, and I certainly believe very strongly in the freedom of the press, and by extension the media. But on the other hand, the press itself is bound by checks and balances. And we can certainly argue that the media has exceeded the balance of good taste into active disrespect and insult.

We can say, hey wait a minute, what you are doing has nothing to do with remembrance or grief. Grief is what I feel privately when I find an item that belonged to a lost loved one. Grief is what I share with my friends and family over dinner. Grief is what sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night and refuses to let me go to sleep unshared while my partner sleeps next to me. The grief is the realization that the steady flow of light notes and greeting cards is never going to start backup again, and the realization that the places that I played in as a child have been transformed by the absence of the person who lived there. Grief is the realization that you will never know if the long-standing conflict was ever forgiven, or if they acknowledged your love for them, and returned it. Grief is knowing that at the end they may not have even known you even existed.

So certainly, the networks and the corporations and Logan airport are more than free to capitalize on the grief shared by many people, those people who dare to tell the truth will point out that it is just mockery.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:11 PM on September 10, 2002


« Older The High Line   |   archive.org Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post