Three months to the day after September 11, J. Hoberman wrote in the Village Voice,
"For everyone who saw the events on TV, movies offered the only possible analogy--blockbusters are what bring us together, all at once, around the world. The moving image and synchronized sound are how information is transmitted"...Here we are five years later.
"On September 11, the dream became reality. But what did that mean? As the German social critic Siegfried Kracauer was the first to argue, "the films of a nation reflect its mentality." Analyzing the popular movies of the Weimar Republic in the light of the Nazi rise to power, Kracauer wrote that "Germany carried out what had been anticipated by her cinema from its very beginning. It was all as it had been on the screen."
Disney spent $40 million of its own money for a network propaganda event on ABC affiliates-- airing it without commercial interruption--undeterred by a shitstorm of protest. I suspect that not only is Disney beholden to the backers of this partisan project; but that the project itself is intended as a vehicle for the Republican campaign message of this election season.
Forty-five percent of Americans, by a recent poll, believe that there are dark corners of the 9/11 catastrophe which have not yet been brought to light. President Bush and his sponsors are still trying to manage the world "after 9/11" and have mucked it up at every step along the way.
There was too much political intrigue in ABC TV's promotion of The Path to 9/11. The suspicions of Disney's bias were raised at the outset, when advanced, and as yet unedited versions of the drama, went straight to right-wing conservative blogs and pundits. This political faction alone, was afforded a preview of this product. Requests for advanced copies from the other side, from America's progressives and interested democratic pundits, were met with evasion.
Even members of former President Clinton's administration had difficulty finding out if they had been misquoted, or if their performance in office had been distorted in the film. The distorted perspective of the film glossed over negligent acts of the Bush team in the run-up to the al-Qaeda attack on the Trade Center, while devoting disproportionate attention to Clinton's years in office. It was the Bush people who showed so much disdain toward the idea of a terrorist threat, at the moment when the outgoing administration was making a concerted attempt to pass on the warning.
ABC's parent company, Disney, had also negotiated a deal with Scholastic, a company that provides children's educational materials for use in school. Scholastic backed out of the deal, when it got wind of the controversy coming from across the political spectrum. It was sinister that a factually flawed and biased film might be presented, as history, to impressionable children.
This has been a strange and unsettling anniversary of our mournful day of September 11. And The Path To 9/11 was interrupted in the middle of the concluding episode, by President Bush's live address to the nation. Our most divisive president counsels national unity. Iraq is better off, since we have driven it into civil war and possible partition. Saddam Hussein played no part in the Trade Center attack; but still he had to be removed, though thousands have been killed, and more thousands will be killed.
The President's brilliant observation is that we are at war; the blockbuster to end all blockbusters. That we will never exhaust the number of enemies that our leadership creates, is the original premise of the War on Terror. We've seen this movie before,...maybe it starred Bruce Willis.