Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Are we ready for this?

This week,an AMC Loews theater in Manhattan decided to stop showing the trailer for Universal's upcoming 9/11 film,United 93. A number of customers were visibly upset by it and one woman in particular stood out in the manager's memory;she was crying and telling him"People aren't ready for this yet."

Is she right? United 93 is set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25(my birthday,of all things)and to be in wide release on April 28. Universal fully intends to keep the trailer running in theaters,despite the AMC Loews putting the kibosh on it and reports of audience unrest in other states. Their position is that"This film gives audiences a chance to confront events and issues surrounding a day that is seared into our national memory, and its trailer honestly reflects that,... "Just as the movie chronicles what happened that day in as accurate a fashion as possible, Universal will continue to market United 93 in a manner that we feel is truthful and direct so that those who elect to see the film will be prepared for the experience."

Are they right? As a New Yorker who was at work that day and heard most of the news over the radio(it felt like WWII had just begun)and then came home to witness the visual impact for days afterward,I'm siding with that lady at the Loews. Yes,it's a story worth telling and more importantly,an event that should and must be kept alive in history but do we have to have the Hollywood versions now? What's the rush here,people,really? I can't stand this whole speed reading mentality we seem to have for putting out artistic takes on real life events. Some wounds need time to heal before they are fit to be examined thru a filmmaker's lens.

I'm not saying that people should boycott the film or that Universal should scrap their ad campaign,far from it. I just think that maybe someone out there in Greenlightsville should have had second,third or even fourth thoughts before setting the wheels in motion here. This isn't the only film about 9/11 due out for release this year-Oliver"Conspiracy" Stone plans to have his flick(called World Trade Center,starring Nicholas Cage) in multiplexes by August. I just don't see folks going out on a Saturday night with friends and family to check either one of these out.

Some people will and feel that it's a good way to keep the memory of what happened strong-they have a point but I really don't feel that's the intent here. Yes,a portion of United 93's profits will be donated to charity and some of the 9/11 families do support U93 but this just is too soon for me. I would feel like I was being disrespectful to the people who did suffer and still are recovering from what happened that day by paying 10 bucks to sit in a theater,munching popcorn while watching a reenactment of a tragedy that occured less than a decade ago for my entertainment. Sure,I could skip the snacks and treated the whole experience like an educational field trip but what would I really be learning here? I already know more than I want to about what happened and so do the vast majority of Americans. Despite all the talk about the short attention spans of young people,I sincerely doubt that anyone under the age of 18 is not aware of what that day means.

Remember when there were complaints about all those tv-movies-of-the-week about true crime stories that seem to be on every other channel? Those are starting to look rather quaint now. Even the three made-for-tv versions of the Amy Fisher/Joey Buttafuoco story(I do confess to watching atleast two out of the three) look mighty tame-then again,the demand for those types of films died down after the likes of Court Tv became available. The publishing industry has taken up the slack there and I'm sure they'll be a few books out on time for the big screen 9/11 movies,too.

This all comes down to this:it's up to you. Whatever you're comfortable with-to see or not to see,that is the question. Good art allows you to decide for yourself what you get out of it so don't give anyone a hard time about checking United 93 out. Many Vietnam vets felt a sense of release after such films as Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July came out and maybe some folks need to do that here. Then again,those movies were made nearly twenty years or so after the war ended. Anyway,if you're curious about the trailer,you can see it by clicking the title link above. Tough subjects are not like vegetables put on your dinner plate-you don't have to swallow them just because your host decided to put them on the menu. You can try them when you're ready.


Sarah Faragher said...

I think I'll not see this. Too hard. I've read some fiction about 9-11, though. Best thing I've read so far: the short story "Monday" in Mark Helprin's book "The Pacific and Other Stories" - beautiful, moving, an elegy.

lady t said...

I've been too chicken to read any 9/11 fiction but do like Helprin. Winter's Tale was one of the best historical fantasy novels that I've ever read.