Sunday, CBS is bringing us 9/11, a documentary of sorts of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, filmed through the lenses of two French film students and including footage that, until the broadcast, was seen only by a few hundred firefighters and government officials.
The broadcast is understandably upsetting many, including families of those who died – though other families who also lost relatives in the attacks are similarly supporting the airing. A special screening for the press netted a few thoughtful reviews: the New York Times, the Daily Globe (Boston), and National Review to name a few. Almost all note that there’s nothing graphic, and a lot that is poignant, in the images, but that the sounds are what haunts your mind the most.
Nextel is sponsoring it, but is crafting the breaks as platforms for public service. (Nonetheless, it’s a tricky move for a major corporation – I don’t envy their public relations team.)
Though I appear to be in the minority, I am glad that CBS is airing it. I’m glad someone is airing it. It may be “too soon” for some – I have no doubt those who lost family or friends will be watching something else – but considering how quickly the images of that day were buried by the mainstream media (and especially the way forces were set in motion to erase the fact that the WTC towers even existed), and considering how quickly the tragedy was turned into fuel for unbridled patriotism, I think we need to be reminded of both the human toll, and the inspiring superhuman way everyday people reacted.
I don’t necessarily want to watch. In fact, I’m terrified of it. But part of me things I need to.
Considering the other ways the tragedy is being appropriated already, I don’t think it’s too soon at all. In fact, I think this footage will have the opposite effect of the one decried by critics, and perhaps discourage – at least for a while – the use of the attacks for an episode of “Walker Texas Ranger” or something.