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Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 at the Movies

Posted By on September 11, 2009, 12:09 PM

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The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are slowly becoming more like history than ongoing open wound. And they'll be part of movie history as well. ---

In the hours and days after that horrible morning, the entertainment industry went into "cover your ass" overdrive. And while it was completely understandable that movies and television shows re-thought the inclusion of terrorism-themed plot lines as pure entertainment, it was more fascinating watching them attempt to erase all references to the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

The most noteworthy examples both involved long-lead promotions for the first Spider-Man film, which was still nearly a year away from release at the time. A crowd-favorite theatrical teaser showed Spider-Man catching helicopter-riding criminals in a web spun between the two towers; it was quickly yanked from theaters. Ditto a teaser poster which showed a reflection of the towers in Spider-Man's mirrored eyepiece. The movies themselves were not immune from such protective measures, as shots of the Twin Towers reportedly were digitally edited from the romantic dramedy Serendipity shortly before it opened theatrically that fall.

In hindsight, it's easy to wonder if such decisions amounted to over-reaction. After all, avoiding offense is the first rule of publicity. But it also seems a shame that the target of the attacks should need to be erased from view. Those architectural marvels themselves did nothing wrong. They may never be separated in our memory from their ultimate fate -- the documentary Man on Wire reminded us of that without ever mentioning the attacks -- but they deserve better than retrospective obliteration.

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