Friday, April 09, 2010

A Short and Selective History of the Aesthetics of 9/11.

September 11, 2001: September 11, 2001.

October 2001: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 is eventually released, after having been held back to remove the Twin Towers, lest the news media hear about a videogame that let you re-enact 9/11.

November 2001: 24 premieres. The series will become a key text in War on Terror media, and hence an important example of the 9/11 Aesthetic.

February 2002: Collateral Damage, a terrorist-centric thriller starring Cliff Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is eventually released, after having been held back to recut the ending and preserve fragile worldwide sensibilities.

May 2002: Spider-Man, having notoriously used the 9/11 Towers in its teaser campaign, is eventually released, after having been held back to advertise with something less suggestive of 9/11 and add scenes in which New Yorkers band together to stop the Green Goblin (and, by extension, Al Quaeda).

December 2002: Gangs of New York, a movie about unwelcome foreigners fucking shit up in downtown Manhattan, ends with a timeline shot bridging the gap between the movie's events and (bizarrely) sometime around 9/10/01.

June 2004: Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's tiresomely polarizing documentary about the War on Terror, includes sly nods to the emerging 9/11 Aesthetic in between its sequences of rich people proving their complicity in the Military-Industrial exploitation of America's young poor by not wanting to talk to a man famous for making rich people look like shit on camera.

April 2006: United 93, a shakycam-heavy documentary-style reenactment of the events of 9/11, is released to general acclaim. The movie is instrumental in bringing The 9/11 Aesthetic to the mainstream, sidestepping charges of tastelessness by never actually showing the money shot.

June 2006: The Omen 2006 is released on time, its entire existence being predicated on the movie's release date of 6/6/06. The movie courts controversy by including the 9/11 attacks in its backstory as examples of diabolic influence upon our modern world. The film's director, John Moore, defends the choice in a press conference, to which his questioner yells, "it's a good thing nobody's going to see your movie because it's a piece of shit!"

August 2006: World Trade Center, a melodrama-heavy dose of sturm und drang by Mr Oliver Stone, bizarrely eschews the director's trademark visual hyperbole, itself a clear forerunner to the 9/11 Aesthetic.

August 2007: The Kingdom, a Steven Seagal movie starring Jamie Foxx as Steven Seagal, features a super-stylized title sequence in which the events of 9/11 are recast as what looks to be a commercial for Nike brand basketball sneakers.

January 2008: Cloverfield, a shitkicking action movie in high-concept cinema-verite trousers, openly invites aesthetic comparison with 9/11. Nobody really minds, possibly because it is so willfully ridiculous that to quibble about aesthetic tastefulness in Cloverfield would be like asking Lady Gaga to model a new line of businesswear.

April 2009: Six Days in Fallujah, a forthcoming action game in which players relive the Second Battle of Fallujah, is dropped by its publishers, Konami, amid cries that videogames and the War on Terror are an inappropriate mix.

April 2010: Pixels, a short film blatantly utilizing the 9/11 visual style, sees a shadowy figure plant an advanced IED in downtown New York which triggers a massive and relentless attack on the city. It's what it would look like if Pixar made a 9/11 movie.


JP said...

Chernobyl, as a man-made disaster featuring elements of urban decay, concrete and poisonous dust clouds, must be considered a inspirational forerunner / precursor to the 9/11 aesthetic.

Iona said...