Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grief Porn



update below

If I assume the overwhelming majority of people watching football on television this weekend aren't doing so because they're coping with 9.11, but just because that's what they like to do on Sunday afternoons in September, I suppose I must be hating somebody, somewhere, for their freedom. Did the government and the news people make this kind of a fuss on December 7th, 1951? I'm not old enough to remember, and of course Yahoo! wasn't around in '51 to drape a black banner across their masthead, but my guess is no.

Even Saint Reagan, whom I am old enough to remember, didn't cry to the heavens in 1985 about the 10 year mark of our exit out of Vietnam, recalling those last helicopters which we threw into the ocean. I do, however, remember the fuss made in some quarters about his visiting the Bitburg cemetery on the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII, because of the SS troops buried there. Certainly it would have been more sensitive to visit a cemetery of Nazi conscripts.

I somewhat surprise myself by offering this, but in partial defense of Ronnie, maybe the general principle is correct and you are supposed to commemorate the dead of both sides in a terrible conflict. It's the decent and yes, Christian thing to do. Of course if this is true, I wonder when an American president will lay a wreath down at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or Wounded Knee.



Many people have been posting this video on Facebook today:




The comments[link] are something else.



to everyone that can see this isnt just a BEER COMMERCIAL and that its a tribute to all the victoms on the plane, police officers, firemen and countless voluteers who lost their lives and thier family's God bless you to the rest of you fuckin unpatrioticheartless basterds you SUCK, im a firefighter and i wasnt even old enough to understand the impact of this when it happend but it still hurts to think about all the fellow brothers i lost if your smat enough to understand that then FUCKIN LEAVE
ecfpd3965

Cornygirl2008, please let me know when you want to leave. I will personally buy you a one way ticket out of America with the provision that you will never return. In no way shape or form am I joking.
Christa573


Two others:

They spent 100,000's of thousands of dollars to show this only once. Not for profit or company gain, but to express the sorrow they felt. As for the subhuman monsters that think 9/11 is some kind of joke, well I can't use those words here. The loss for all the faimilys of those who died that day is more than our hearts can stand. Condolences, from me and mine, to all of you. My God be with you aways.
1947gambler

Not only once anymore, they're showing it several times today during NFL games. They spent 100,000's of dollars because its a can't miss commercial that exploits a national tragedy to sell their product.
MrG0dbar


The general trend of the comments crystallizes what I find so creepy about the commodification of 9.11 grief. It's as if scores of people are perversely jealous that they didn't lose anybody and want the voyeuristic pleasure, to enjoy feeling like they're a part of a larger experience other people are having, and want to have "a good cry." And the government and media are all too happy to encourage this impulse for their own ends, as if they're concerned that we're not emotionally stunted enough. (I also wonder if some people who actually did lose loved ones on September 11th might prefer less of this carrying on by others, that may needlessly refresh old wounds.)

Being susceptible to this manipulation doesn't make you a bad person, but that's like saying having deficient critical reasoning skills doesn't make you a bad person. Of course neither negates the value of critical thinking. It's tempting to think that we're collectively stupider than we were 50 or 100 years ago, but this is unlikely. P.T. Barnum made a nice living off of people like this, back in the day.

But, duh, you knew that, because you're cool. Of course some people are just sentimental and easily misled, and even smart people can be suckered by the culture-media message reinforcing machine that alternately tells you to remember some things and forget others. The barrage on your sensibility is endless. How do you resist the simulacrum? Reality and pre-corporate values are a glass of tepid water, and the drink they're offering is sweet and sexy and will make your breath minty fresh, lower your taxes and help you score with chicks.

I realize that the internet and social media have had a huge impact on our conceptions of privacy. Still, wanting to 'get in on the grief' so you can demonstrate how patriotic you are and prove your capacity for depth of feeling, whether to yourself or others, strikes me as sad in an altogether different way than intended.

see also

Gonzalo Lira,"They Didn't Win, We Lost"

James S. Henry, Forbes, "The other September 11"

Doug Mataconis,"December 7, 1951 v. September 11, 2011" [via TPR]

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3 Comments:

At September 12, 2011 4:54 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Excuse me while I vomit. Horses GENUFLECTING at the scene of multiple murders? Idiotic and stupid.
I also forced myself to watch another of Bud's maudlin commercials, the one of soldiers being applauded in an airport. See how they modestly smile as they march forward to kill other humans, including children, on command? And the assholes clap and cheer.

 
At September 12, 2011 10:24 AM, Blogger The Promiscuous Reader said...

You're probably right about the tenth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Jon. See http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/december-7-1951-v-september-11-2011/

I don't find the writer's explanation for the US neglect of that anniversary too persuasive, though. Yes, we were busy fighting Communism in Korea at the time, and WWII (unlike the current neverending conflict) was over. But there are plenty of dates associated with WWII that get attention in our culture: D-Day, V-E Day, V-J Day. It's interesting that Pearl Harbor Day wasn't such a big day on the calendar on its tenth anniversary.

 
At September 12, 2011 11:19 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Mimi n' PR,

I guess the main point of interest for me was the commenters at the Youtube page for the commercial, the ones who seemingly couldn't distinguish criticizing Budweiser for making a manipulative commercial from mocking the people who died.

I guess it's not too dissimilar a dynamic from lashing out at war critics by suggesting that criticizing the government for prosecuting a war makes you anti-American, as if being pro-war and uncritically pro-authority are acid tests for whether or not you are a good American, whatever that means. (OK, those probably ARE acid tests for some people.)

And thanks for the outside th' beltway link, PR.

 

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