Wednesday, April 05, 2006

United Flight 93 Movie - My WTF Rant for the Day

I think I need to institute a WTF rant, since I'm becoming well known for my creative use of those three little letters. So here's my first one.

I just watched the United Flight 93 trailer on the Apple Movie Trailers site. This movie has been getting a lot of talk over the past couple of days, and I was actually not sure whether I wanted to look, to be honest. The idea of a movie being made about this is distasteful to me on so many levels that I wasn't sure I wanted to even give the impression of buying into the hype by checking out the trailer. (I could have written a WTF rant on the Flight 93 TV movie from earlier this year.)

But curiosity or irritation, take your pick, won out and I pulled it up. And it brought up a lot of feelings that I thought were pretty buried - never gone, just buried. Which ticked me off at first, because I felt like it was a sign that I was buying into the marketing aspect of "pull the heartstrings, we've got box office gold here!" But then I realized it was dread that I was feeling; that complete and utter feeling of helplessness and dread I felt that morning when I saw the smoke from Tower 2's collapse all the way from 80th Street, where I was entering a colleague's apartment to get the hell away from my Times Square office, where I was sure we were next.

And that is what pisses me off about Flight 93 being made into movies. To take a tragedy on the scale of September 11 (the "9/11" moniker just feels like a snazzy marketing title, which is like nails on a blackboard) and start churning out movies that could play after a Danielle Steel movie on Lifetime or a big-screen thriller is just wrong to me. We are still fighting in a war that is [very shadily] attached to September 11. We are in the final days of the trial of the so-called 20th hijacker. Should we really start turning this day into box office dollars?

Some people would shoot back, "How many movies have been made about Pearl Harbor?" And I'll give you that. I think "Tora, Tora, Tora" is a very well done movie. I think "Pearl Harbor" is god-awful but the attack scene is uncomfortably convincing. But Tora Tora Tora was made in 1970 and is a war movie. Pearl Harbor was made in 2001 and is exactly the reason I don't want a Flight 93 movie. It sentimentalizes a horrible, horrible event in human history. It makes it drippy and gooey and pablum. There is a difference, watch the movies and make your own judgement call.

I have a lot of feelings about this movie, none of them good. I think using Flight 93 and all the people who died trying to avert even further deaths, knowing they were going to their own, is a terrible way to memorialize these people. I think it's a big rah-rah movie for the Bush administration and their manufactured war. I find it sadly amusing that one of the heroes to emerge from Flight 93 was Mark Bingham, a gay rugby player who, had he never boarded Flight 93, would have been vilified by the same Bush administration for his sexual preference. (Had Beamer walked away from Flight 93, would Bush have given him a special dispensation for gay marriage?)

I'm not ready for a Flight 93 movie. Or a American Airlines Flights 11 or 175, or American Airlines Flight 77. I don't want this day turned into a marketing campaign - even I, as a marketer, would like to think I've got a little more class than that (and this is the woman who, during my tenure on History Book Club, was on "PopeWatch" during the last days of Pope John Paul II so I could time my book e-mail).

At least they didn't end the trailer with the actor playing Todd Beamer saying, "Let's Roll" on the fadeout. Then, I think I would have lost my fragile little mind.


Stacey said...

I agree it's too early. The 9/11 emergency tape release last week was hard enough. I wonder if people outside of the areas affected feel really differently about this.

Roe said...

I don't know, sometimes I think that since Middle America does tend to dictate books that get written and movies and TV shows t hat get made, that maybe they feel like it's time. But it really did some psychological stuff to New Yorkers, at least in my opinion. I think as a collective, we're not ready - there are still things that are surfacing from that day, how can it be dramatized?

I really am disgusted by the way it's taken on such a branding, this whole "9/11" insanity. It feels like the administration is marketing this to manufacture a rah-rah feel, like I said earlier.