September 11, 2002
This coming 9/11 will be the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The major networks have already announced plans for spectacular all-day retrospectives. I will not be watching.
The day of the attack, everyone was simply too stunned to do more than watch. Even the networks paused, moved to a silent mode where images carried the day -- repeated ad infinitum. Every available photo and video was shown, even those with the crudest profanities (in the case of CBS). Anchors simply repeated what little was known and often were silent. Who knew what to say about this?
But within days, the old haibts reasserted themsleves. Anchors inserted editorial remarks of the most egregious kind. Reporters went back to "finding the story," instead of just reporting. The horrific pictures of the planes hitting the towers disappeared, too "desensitizing" to repeat, too "horrifying" to show to "traumatized" viewers. They quickly moved to put "context" around the story, to "shape" it for viewers so that they wouldn't be needlessly "inflamed" by their own latent anger and desire for retribution. The networks had an important, self-assigned, calming social and "educational" role to play.
So when they look back, I have little hope of seeing anything resembling what really happened, or the true, angering, shocking, unadulterated story. Sept. 11 will be shoe-horned into the usual templates that networks use in their newsmagazine shows, because that's all they know. They'll filter it, tweak it, contextualize it; amp it up with editing and music into packages that remove the viewer from their own feelings of shock and outrage and instead place them into the safe, non-threatening and self-congratulatory boxes the networks like to keep viewers in.
The coverage will be long on sentiment and heart-tugging, but frighteningly short on the ugly truth. It will be high on meaningless pomp and "insight," but woefully short of the simple naked horror. It will be solemn in the worst, most pretentious way.
I don't need my mind massaged into their world-view. I have my own. I won't watch.
Until next time,
Your Working Boy