'); //--> Back to Boston.com homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online Cars.com BostonWorks Real Estate Boston.com Sports digitalMass Travel
Back home
Sept. 11: One year after

Today's date
Under attack
Globe and Boston.com coverage from September 11, 2001

List of victims
World Trade Ctr.
Pentagon
AA Flight 11
AA Flight 77
United Flight 93
United Flight 175
Flight 11
Flight 175

Tenants of WTC
North Tower
South Tower

Memorials
Post a tribute to someone killed in the attack or write condolences to all victims in the National Book of Remembrance.

Showing support
Flag flying guide
Flag wallpaper
Printable flag

Globe archives
Looking for a story about the US war on terror? Use this search form:
Search for:
Search from:

Search help

9/11 on the Web:
An archive of Websites, e-mails, photos, video, audio, and discussion groups.
digitalarchive.org
A library of Web content from around the world. sept11.archive.org/
Culture after Sept. 11 chat

On Monday, Sept. 9, Globe Living/Arts writer Louise Kennedy talked with Boston.com readers about how American culture has changed since September 11.

Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:08PM
I think I'd like to start with a clarification of the description of this chat, which says I'm talking about "how the culture has changed since Sept. 11." In a lot of ways, what interests me, too, is how much the culture hasn't changed since then.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:12PM
Whoops -- I think I just inadvertently deleted a comment, which was pointing out that nobody's saying much. Is this a topic that people just don't want to hear any more about? I know I had moments of feeling that way while researching the piece -- I think we're all dreading an inundation of images and memoir, and I wonder if we'd be better off just trying to get through the next few days without rehashing everything.
e
12:12PM
Do you view the lack of cultural change as a sign of apathy or patriotism?
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:14PM
I don't think either "apathy" or "patriotism" exactly fits what's underlyign the lack of change, though maybe apathy comes closer -- I think our culture focuses intently on a topic for a few months, then moves on to the next thing, and to some extent I think that happened with Sept. 1.. Everyone was convinced that we had changed forever, but by January or so, we were returning to celebrity fixations, TV fads, and the rest. I don't know, what do you think?
peaceful sort
12:18PM
I admit I snort when I hear the media and politicians say it was "the day America changed forever"-- I'm sure we thought that with Pearl Harbor in 1941, and now, we barely give 12/7 a glance. I'm sure in another generation, we'll treat 9/11 the same.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:20PM
Yeah, one of the things that strikes me -- and that several of the people I interviewed kept mentioning -- is how little sense of history many Americans have, and how little sense of world politics. It takes nothing away from the tragedy of Sept. 11 to acknowledge that there have been countless other tragedies, both here and elsewhere, and to try to have a larger perspective than we seem to have at first. It's hard -- I plead guilty to having used the phrase "the day the world changed" in a column last September -- but I think it's important to keep trying.
e
12:21PM
I think change comes when it is less painful than remaining where you are. In reality most people's lives were not directly affected or in danger on Sept 11th so the need for real change is not felt acutely as it was for those in NYC or who lost a loved one. I guess that means I vote for apathy.
Muhammed
12:22PM
I have noticed that I get a lot more hateful stares on the subway, etc. - can this perhaps be related to the phalanx of Muslim-led violence here and abroad?
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:25PM
I wonder, and I'm sorry to hear that it's affecting you personally. One writer I talked to, who grew up in Europe, said that one of the things he has always treasured about America is that we get along with each other, we just let each other be, despite our differences. That's not always true, of course, but it was interesting that it felt that way to him --that there really was room for diversity here. And he said the subway feels different to him now, too. It saddened him that whatever sense of freedom and acceptance we had before has been lessened in some way. It saddens me, too. And I hate how I can't help looking around at all my fellow passengers when I fly. I think we all have to keep reminding ourselves to avoid paranoid suspicion, even as we remain cautious. A tricky balance, for sure.
peaceful sort
12:25PM
I agree with e!
OneMoreTime
12:25PM
I diagree with movies, TV, etc, deleting images of the WTC. 'The Sopranos' now has also followed suit. Wouldn't keeping them in constitute a tribute to them? How does deleting them make it so 9/11 never happened? Very aggravated by this...
Muhammed
12:25PM
Also, how to combat bigotry when someone approaches me and spews hateful venom - one guy had his children yell evil, profane words at me and laughed when I begged him to stop. So, so sad.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:28PM
I strongly agree that the WTC images shouldn't be snipped out -- it reminds me of the Memory Hole in "1984," where Orwell had people juts reinventing the historical record. Once that starts, where does it end? What was, was. We shouldn't try to erase it. And how sad, Muhammed. I can only hope his children saw that you answered evil with good, and maybe that will spark an understanding for them that their father is wrong.
Angelica
12:30PM
I think all the media work is digusting and frankly, a part of the problem.
Muhammed
12:30PM
That Sopranos show depicts what is wrong with America - gratuitous violence in this culture, and the public's fascination with same. We need more peaceful shows based (perhaps) on the teachings of the Koran.
e
12:30PM
I think we will need many more days in the rear view mirror before we even know if this was the day that changed America or the world - to fully understand it's impact on the future. If we see the style of warfare change to a more terroristic approach, 9/11 may be viewed as the sentinel event for that change. The minutemen hiding in the bushes mowing down the ranks of brightly colored redcoats were considered barbaric much as the suicide bomber is today.
Muhammed
12:30PM
Americans need to know that Islam is a religion of peace. We embrace diversity, both ethnic and religious. We tolerate opposing views, and women have a place of honor in our culture. Please to help me spread this word.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:31PM
Angelica -- I'm curious, what would you like to see instead? And I do consider "nothing" a reasonable response -- I'm just wondering if there's something you would prefer that's not out there.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:35PM
One thing I asked a lot of the people I interviewed was whether they'd seen a piece of art that responded to Sept. 11 in a way that moved them. I guess I'd like to ask the same question here. For me, Art Spiegelman's New Yorker cover, all black with the shadows of the towers, was one; the light installation was another. And a few poems here and there. But that's about it. Anybody else?
Angelica
12:35PM
To be honest Louise, I am not sure exactly what I would like to see, but I do know that by continuing to show the planes flying into the WTC isn't the avenue American media should be taking. I almost feel an invasion of the enormity of what happened last year on 9-11.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:36PM
I agree with you -- my husband happened to flick on a rerun of the "Frontline" documentary the other night, about faith and doubt after the attacks, and while I found a lot of it very moving and worth watchingg, I was really upset to see those images of the planes again. I wasn't expecting them, I've been trying to avoid them, and it just hit me in the gut to see them again.
peaceful sort
12:37PM
Angelica brings up a good point. I think the media, and yes, this includes the Globe, has been playing the anniversary into the ground-- coverage that starts 9 days before the anniversary? That's a bit much. And I don't care which TV networks or advertisers or politicians are or are not going to run ads that day. Does saying you're going ad-free that day really going toraise the opinin people have of you? It's like they're saying this for the sake of the PR and I think it's appalling.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:39PM
Yeah, I think it's abhorrent to see this anniversary being used as an opportunity of any kind -- whether it's an ad or a decision not to run an ad, or a story or TV show that seems more interested in getting attention than in genuinely responding. All of that has been part of our culture for a while, but I think the solemnity of this event just underscores how crass and overblown it is. And I can't even imagine how horrible it is for the families of victims to see this wave of publicity washing over the country.
Muhammed
12:40PM
Shalom alechem, alechem shalom. Peace to all peoples and religions, in the name of all that is good and kind.
OneMoreTime
12:40PM
The images of the planes, in my opinion, are necessary. Louise, in all do respect, I feel the opposite. I think when people see those images, they forget that on each of those planes were dozens of people, who all died on impact. Parents, sons, wives, all vaporized ina fireball. That is the reality, and we cann't look at those images like the planes were empty or that they were some special effect.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:41PM
It's precisely because I can't forget that all those people were dying as we watched that the images are so horrific. And the reason I resent having them played over and over again is that I think it cheapens those deaths; it renders them into an icon, a visual shorthand, rather than a specific, human loss.
wishers
12:41PM
My birthday is on September 11th. I feel that celebrating on that day is disrespectful, especially on a day of reflection, and on a day when the rest of the country will be attending memorials, saying prayers, and observing moments of silence. My mother feels that it is a day to celebrate, that if the families of the victims of that day will be attempting to do the things that they stopped doing last year, then I should look to doing the same, and celebrate my birthday. My boyfriend on the other hand, is more sympathetic and agrees that I have a right to feel the way I do. What do you think?
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:42PM
There was a piece in the NY Times the other day about just that question -- the author's son shares your birthday and feels weird about it. He was planning to go to Yankee Stadium that day, where they'll be having a memorial but also playing ball. The right mix, for him, of solemnity and celebration. Makes sense to me. And have a happy birhday.
e
12:43PM
I did find the light installation to be an excellent memorial. It was uplifting for me - the chance to almost see the towers there one last time.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:43PM
Yes, and I think it was so good that they were temporary -- an evocation that we knew wouldn't be there long.
k
12:43PM
I agree with Louise about the images of the planes - of course we shouldn't forget, but I think most of us *can't* forget...it's very difficult to view those images again
Angelica
12:44PM
OneMoreTime, we all know what happened last year on 9-11. America ate, slept and drank it for months and we will do so for the rest of our lives. But I think we should eliminate watching the devalue of our people. Rather show live broadcast from memorial services. The planes crashing is a thing of the past, our strength to help mend the pain is the present and forever our future.
peaceful sort
12:45PM
I can't imagine a way of showing the plane without it seeming sensationalistic.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:47PM
It's interesting -- I think this debate is part of the larger tension, between wanting to remember and not wanting to sensationalize. I think visual culture, especially television, forces us to remember with images, and when the images are so awful, that can paradoxically make us want to forget. I'd rather use words. But that's hard too, because it's hard sometimes even to find words in the face of such a shock.
e
12:48PM
I agree with OneMoreTime. Though the way the coverage has been sensationalized is wrong, I feel we do need the reminder so that American's short attention spans do not forget the tragedy. We don't need it hammered over our heads every time we turn the television on but we should not banish the images. They should be shown with narrative that emphasizes the tragedy - not as a news preview or coming attraction.
poetry
12:48PM
Louise, What poets/poetry do you think stands out in the wake of 9/11?
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:50PM
I found Frank Bidart's poem, published in Sunday's Globe, harsh but moving; he was expressing a piece of the emotions we all feel. And Robert Pinsky's -- both in the Globe and another in, I think, the Phila. Inqurer -- he read it on NPR. And the Auden poem that was everywhere right afterward -- as Pinsky said to me, the best works of art about an event are often created years before it happens.
k
12:50PM
The best shows/articles/etc. I have seen on the subject are about the faith of all Americans, such as the Frontline special, in which the focus is on how we all feel, and what we share in common. The memoriams that have given me the most comfort are those that have a message of unity and of hope.
OneMoreTime
12:50PM
Well for me every time I see the planes it takes me back to that day. It was my second day of work at a firm whose parent company took a direct hit by plane #1. I feel like a sense of the desparation and sadness I felt that day is necessary, for me, on Wednesday. And I will be in NYC this weekend to pay tribute in person. It will be my own sense of closure.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:53PM
Oh, and John Updike had a wonderful poem in the New Yorker. It was really about his own mortality, but I think that blending of the personal and the larger tragedy is what can make art. Interestingly, I think that poem is much more successful than the attempts I've seen to make fiction out of these events -- including Updike's, I have to say. Fiction is going to have a hard time with this, I think, because the facts just hit so hard. You just can't write a story that's more wrenching than the reality.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:56PM
Something several people said to me is that art will become more political, less inwardly focused, as a result of these events and the subsequent war. Do you think that's true?
Angelica
12:57PM
Actually, Saturday morning, I think it was the Today show, had as a guest, one of the cast members from NYC's production of Les Miserables. She spoke how they used their already multi-emotion show to deal 9-11's aftermath. She said singing 'I dreamed a dream' was therapeutic. I was in a production of Cabaret last November and the show was very appropriate for where we are in history.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
12:58PM
Yes, I think often people find meaning in art to fit the current circumstances, whether or not that was its original intent. And good art is flexible enough to grow in those ways.
Louise_Kennedy (Moderator)
01:00PM
Well, my four-year-old is about done sharpening all the pencils he can find, so I'm done chatting for now. Thanks to everyone for joining in.




© Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

| Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy |