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...A 20-something male college student noted, ''It's like your grandparents knowing where they were when they heard Pearl Harbor got bombed, or your parents hearing of JFK's assassination. For my age group, this event is for us.''
This article, originally from the LA Times, caught my eye last week, "Teens are targeted as audience for WTC movie". It seems that while market testing the new Oliver Stone movie World Trade Center studio executives discovered that the movie received the strongest reaction from teenagers and young adults:
Teens, who were just kids when the Twin Towers fell, said in a focus group that the movie strongly resonated with them because the events it portrayed occurred during their lifetimes.
...So favorable has been teenagers' responses to the film, Rich says, that Paramount completely reworked its $35 million marketing campaign to also court the most faithful and frequent moviegoing demographic: young people.
''Every generation has a defining moment,'' says the voice-over of a 30-second TV spot aimed at the under-25 crowd. The melodic ''Fix You,'' by the rock group Coldplay, plays as the screen goes black and three words appear in stark white letters: ''This Was Ours.''
This actually doesn't surprise me. Our generation has been raised on a near-constant stream of popular culture and entertainment that has developed into an unprecedented sense of hyper-reality and 9/11 serves as a case study for this distended reality. In this world, events unfold on tv and don't feel seem because they remind us of a movie; it isn't until the events are turned into a movie that things come full circle and finally feel real. For nearly the entire world the repeated television images of the tower's collapsing are their main connection to the horror of that day. The article quoted a 14-year-old girl as saying:
''I remember back in 2001 when it happened on the news...I kept thinking, 'This isn't real, it's just one of those disaster movies.' This movie made me feel Sept. 11 was real for the first time.''
And for many of us, the healing came from popular culture. David Letterman and Dan Rather crying together. Mayor Guliani on Saturday Night Live telling people it was ok to laugh. For me, it was Jon Stewart's return to air on September 20th, 2001 that brought forth the reality and the pain of the situation...and began the healing. I can still remember, hear his voice in my head and see him in my mind struggling to maintain his composure and make sense of what none of us could understand as he said:
"The reason I don't despair is that. . . this attack happened. It's not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery, is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King's dream.
...Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters and these policemen and people from all over the country, literally with buckets, rebuilding. . . that's extraordinary. And that's why we have already won. . . it's light. It's democracy. They can't shut that down. They live in chaos. And chaos, it can't sustain itself--it never could. It's too easy and it's too unsatisfying.
The view. . . from my apartment. . . was the World Trade Center. . .Now it's gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength. . . and labor and imagination and commerce and it's gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. . . the view from the south of Manhattan is the Statue of Liberty. . .
You can't beat that. . .
No matter if you watched the towers collapse in person or on television, the emotional attachment is very real and no less powerful. And if a movie like "World Trade Center" is a way for us to be cope and remember, than I have problem with that. While writing this I found a note I had written on the first anniversary of 9/11, just a few days after I had arrived at college in DC and recalled this line:
In the years since September 11th we have begun to cope with what occurred on that day, to come to terms on some level with the seeming unreality of the situation. But it is important that on this day of remembrance that that we revisit loss, recall emotion, and vow never to let the memory of those departed fade.