Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Angsty again...Sorry

Remember one of the many feelings on Sept. 11, 2001, was that celebrities, Hollywood and all the commercialism that went with it were even more of a waste of time and money than usual? This brings back those memories.

Apparently some genius in the movie industry thought it would be a good idea to provide a red carpet for the opening of the film United 93, about the hijacked plane bound for the Capitol in Washington, D.C., that went down in Shanksville, Pa., instead thanks to the heroic efforts of passengers and crew. The film opened the Tribeca Film Festival at the Ziegfield Theater, an appropriate venue to be sure, though having anything amounting to "festivities" leaves a bad taste.

Some things just don’t mix, as reporter David Segal points out. The only thing “in keeping with the situation” (to quote Dickens) is the fact that moviemakers have managed to turn such a tragedy into a circus.

First we have Universal Studios proudly proclaiming that they are donating the first weekend’s profit to the proposed United Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania. After that, Universal rakes in all the money made. They’re proud of this?

Then, in true Hollywood fashion, there must be a gawking opportunity. Whose idea was it to parade Flight 93 victims’ family members down the red carpet? To what end? To be ignored by the paparazzi (I hate that word) who weren’t even interested in the caliber of celebrity available for – er – shooting? I’ll bet that was a real warm moment: “Could you and your orphaned children move out of the way? I’m trying to take a picture of Tom Selleck.”

Of course this is not the first film about a tragedy and, while not my favorite genre, I can sort of understand their function. Schindler’s List forced you to look at the results of an entire nation (and world) looking the other way. All profits went to the Shoah Foundation. Even Titanic is a study in human arrogance in the face of nature.

Perhaps it is the treatment of the subject matter that makes the movie and all the accouterments in such poor taste. If this were an expose’ of the intelligence bungling of both the Clinton and Bush administrations it would be less sordid. But to watch the events leading up to the senseless death of 44 innocent people amounts to nothing more than voyeurism. It teaches nothing, it reveals nothing. It’s not entertainment. And it’s not even fund-raising.

I agree with the man quoted at the end of the article:

"Well, it took 60 years before there was that movie by Michael Bay about Pearl Harbor. Isn't it nice that with the advance of movie technology, it now takes only just five years for a director to cash in on tragedy?


Jagosaurus said...

No need to apologize.

I'm with you on this. And while the movie is apprently quite good and sensitive to the whole situation (or so I hear), it is still a MOVIE about a tragedy that happened much too recently. We're all just too raw for this.

Aunt Norie said...

Ah sweetie, this is the disconnect we seem to have between reality and entertainment ... witness Survivor/network evening news/etc. Reality has less gravitas if you can reduce it to entertainment; hence less response and thought is required from the 'consumer'. Allowing things to be reduced to a soundbite and filtered thru another's eye, minimizes its impact ~ something many of us seem more than willing to do.
I'm with Jagosaurus -- we, who respond to events with a healthy curiousity of the world around us. are still (maybe will always be) entirely too raw for this event to become pre-digested entertainment event, reduced to a neatly packaged 90 min. 'consider this' condundrum.

benning76 said...

Remember that movies were made about Pearl Harbor as early as 1943 - a bit faster than 60 years. It's not the movie, it's how it's presented, I think.

Is it too early? I don't think so. Too many want the whole thing filed away under, "Let's Just Forget, Shall We?"

Be nice to know that the film wasn't a sensationalist extravaganza. For a change! But the telling of the story is important. Even this 'early'.