World Trade Center

A bunch of videogame articles over the past few years have compared the medium’s struggle to find artistic acceptance with the similar struggle the film industry went through. Apparently those articles jumped to conclusions by using past tense.

The new Andrea Berloff/Oliver Stone picture World Trade Center has seemingly half the country crying “too soon!” I can understand their objection. Watching the first United 93 trailer last year made me uncomfortable, and I too wondered about the motivations of the filmmakers. Then I saw the movie. It was a gruelling experience, but one well worth having, and one I chose to have. The film was tastefully done, informative and accurate. It brought back emotions in me that I’d repressed, emotions (namely rage) that I as a person and we as a nation should not be allowed to forget about. Writer/director Paul Greengrass did us all a favor making that film.

If you feel it’s too soon for this type of art, don’t see the movie, but don’t expect to be coddled either. As a society, we’ve healed enough to begin reflecting. If you as a person have not, understand your feelings are not universal.

Mostly what I want to know is this: where was the country’s rage when Jonathan Safran Foer wrote Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close over a year ago? Where was the rage when poets across the nation used 9/11 as fodder for their slam sessions? Why are Oliver Stone’s pictures of synthetic wreckage five years later inciting so much more anger and anxiety than the networks endlessly airing footage of the towers falling?

The answer to this, judging from the editorials and online rants and letters-to-the-editor I’ve read, is that Hollywood is out for profit. Let me clarify a few points for those who write such things…

Hollywood is a location. One with high rent and more than its fair share of transvestite prostitutes. It is not a person or an organization and it cannot have an agenda.

We live in a capitalist society. This means that art (which is kind of a false concept anyway, but that’s a post unto itself) has become product. Jon Foer writes books, and he gets paid for it. Paul Greengrass makes movies, and he gets paid for that. The two main differences are that more people are interested in Greengrass’s medium of choice, and that Foer has fewer clever marketing types working to get his art sold. Maybe that’s only one difference.

Also, consider this: before he made United 93, Paul Greengrass directed The Bourne Supremacy, cementing him as a successful action filmmaker. Financially, making a controversial, unconventional $15 million film was a terrible career move.

Tell you what. If Take Two Interactive starts work on a WTC videogame, I’ll get upset along with the rest of you. Until then, stop picking on the cinema. It’s the only art form we have left that anyone seems to notice.

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3 Responses to “World Trade Center”

  1. ranting2006 Says:

    Just curious, but are you an actor by chance? It would really help me to know after reading this post. I don’t know why- just curious.

  2. Roger Taylor Says:

    I am not an actor. I do write screenplays, if that makes a difference.

  3. ranting2006 Says:

    I thought you were either an actor or writer. I agree that picking on the cinema is pretty lame. It was interesting to see also how some celebrities were so embraced by Hollywood and media simply for throwing the government under the bus after the 9/11 honeymoon was over. Some even seemed to become more successful for their sentiments. Good post!

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