|09-18-2001, 12:28 PM||#1|
Syndrome of a Down
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: West Chester
When defining "appropriate"... isn't
One of the recurring sentiments in America right now (that's driving me NUTS) is that our thought police seem to be working overtime to spin their moral cocoon around Americans. It seems that while it's okay to broadcast the footage of the WTC attack 24 hours a day, stick microphones in the faces of those searching for loved ones and ask "How do you feel?", rev the nation up for bombings and warfare and have competitions to see who can wave the most American flags, there are lots of other things that are suddenly NOT okay. Why? They're..."inappropriate."
Who says so?
Two hundred and seventy million Americans are going to have two hundred and seventy million individual ways of dealing with this and other tragedies. What's a painful reminder to one will be a welcome distraction to another; while some choose to reflect further on the death toll, others will desire to move on and focus on what's to come next. Some feel that the nation should do nothing but mourn and prepare for war; others feel that the exhaustive multimedia coverage of the assault is an assault in and of itself.
However, it seems some are unflagging in their efforts to shield all of America from what some few might find offensive. The FCC and their ilk use this as their rationale for existence, but it's kicked into high gear lately:
* A small handful of movies, TV programs and computer wargames with terrorist-related themes (such as Arnie's "Collateral Damage") are being postponed. That, I can understand. However, several other movies -- including movies as ridiculously inoffensive as "Zoolander", a host of video games (from Microsoft's Flight Simulator series to Spider-Man 2), TV programs and other media are being postponed and put under the digital-editing knife. Why? They depict the New York skyline -- or, in some cases, a skyline that loosely resembles New York's -- and the WTC buildings are visible.
It's fine to broadcast their collapse over and over, but showing footage from when they were still standing that's COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO EITHER THE PLOT OR TO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS is "inappropriate." Flight Simulator, I can understand (they're editing the WTC out of the New York skyline -- though you're free to practice your aim on whatever landmarks you designate as 'next' for terrorist attack) -- but are we supposed to pretend that the WTC destruction was retroactive, and pre-September footage of the buildings should be stricken from the record?
* One of the higher-ups at Clear Channel (the megacorp with a stranglehold on a large percentage of America's radio stations) whipped up a list of songs that are "inappropriate" for this situation and are being pulled from radio playlists nationwide. The list is interestingly idiosyncratic; along with the usual suspects like Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Judas Priest, dozens of completely inoffensive songs are blacklisted simply because they contain a word, a phrase or an association with some "disturbing" concept. Tell me, do you think these songs [among many others, mostly selected because they refer to fire, guns, flying or death] will warp the fabric of America and hamstring the war effort?
Jimi Hendrix - "Hey Joe"
Steam - "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey [Goodbye]"
Elton John - "Benny & The Jets", "Daniel", "Rocket Man"
Jackson Browne - "Doctor My Eyes"
Louis Armstrong - "What A Wonderful World"
Santana - "Evil Ways"
Simon & Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Happenings - "See You In September"
Hollies - "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"
John Lennon - "Imagine"
Bobby Darin - "Mack The Knife"
Surfaris - "Wipeout"
Frank Sinatra - "New York, New York"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Travelin' Band"
Alien Ant Farm - "Smooth Criminal"
Neil Diamond - "America"
Youngbloods - "Get Together"
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels - "Devil With A Blue Dress On"
James Taylor - "Fire And Rain"
Nena - "99 Luftballoons"
Beatles - "Obladi, Oblada", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
John Parr - "[Theme From] St. Elmo's Fire"
Bangles - "Walk Like An Egyptian"
Pat Benatar - "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Love Is A Battlefield"
REM - "It's The End Of The World As We Know It"
and, curiously, "ALL Rage Against The Machine songs." Not that I particularly care for their music, but this isn't a little bit politically biased, now, is it?
Interestingly, the Cure's "Killing an Arab" didn't make the list. Must've been an oversight.
Do we truly live in an America now where there's a NEIL DIAMOND song that's too controversial for airplay, or where songs that merely contain the word "fire" threaten the national psyche?
* And then there's the endless media-pundit yammering about whether sporting events, movie openings, plays, concerts, or returning to normal radio or TV programming (as compared to being all-WTC, all-the-time) are "appropriate" at this time.
Let the participants decide, and let the PUBLIC decide. If players on a sports team don't wish to fly (as the New York Jets didn't, and I can't blame them one bit), then postpone their games by all means. If an event takes place and the majority of the spectators feel it's too soon, they'll stay home. But I'm hearing too many condemnations in the press of those who chose to move on sooner than others, and too many people saying things like "[X] performed on Friday, so I'll never [watch/listen to/patronize] him again."
Maybe I'm just oversensitive on the opposite end of this spectrum. Maybe I itch any time that elected officials and prominent individuals take it upon themselves to play mommy and daddy and become guardians of the public morality, doing their best to keep "inappropriate" materials out of the hands of even consenting adults.
This is a major event in American history. We can't push a button (not even a bombs-away button or a nuclear button) and make it all go away, or fix what's already happened. Extremists hate Americans in part because they enjoy so many freedoms, and can express themselves in so many ways -- and these knee-jerk attempts to channel Americans in one direction aren't the answer.
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Know what I hate most? Rhetorical questions.
- Henry N. Camp