Turning the Channel

     Over the past week, the American public has been inundated with file footage from the events of 9-11.  Much of this footage has been a tribute to the heroes who gave their lives that day; however, the most graphic content reflects a much more horrific aspect of the moment- death and destruction.  No one can discount the painful reality of that day.  The destruction of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon, and the downing of the plane in Pennsylvania were an act of war, and with that came violence, chaos, and carnage; realizations that most people find unappealing even if it reflects the truth of the matter.  For those of us who have a tendency to shy away from all things bad, should we have been forced to revisit or see for the first time such graphic representations of the pain and death from that day?  As good Americans, we undoubtedly want to honor those who perished by being tuned in to the tributes presented by the media networks, but how much is too much?

     The videos of people jumping from the towers will forever be a tragic part of the archive of 9-11.  Some would cite these as the most horrific images from that day, yet much of the carnage was never publicly released because it was legitimately too intense for public viewing.  The images of thousands of burnt and twisted bodies is certainly something that few people yearn to see, and rightfully so, yet there lingers a debate about the release of this footage.  Roxanne Silver, a University of California Irvine professor of psychology and social behavior, had this to say about the matter, “It’s very clear to me that the repeated exposure of images of 9/11 serves no purpose for adults or children, and I would discourage parents from allowing their children to be exposed to graphic images.”  In regards to the children, it is easy to agree with this statement as it is a delicate task to educate young ones on these events without overexposing them.

     One of the authors of this post had the opportunity to speak to a fourth grade class about 9/11 yesterday and found himself at times challenged to describe certain events from the war, in particular, without being inappropriately graphic.  Children aside, many of these images, graphic and patriotic alike, serve as a rallying cry to serve justice on the persons who brought the war to us that day and will forever be a reminder of why we continue to remain vigilant.

– LaPuasa, Claire Dillard, Louis

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21 thoughts on “Turning the Channel

  1. I actually got really excited when I read this article. My sister and I have had multiple discussions lately about how 9/11 is getting too much media. I completely understand that it is a sad and terrible thing that happened. However, reliving it makes it even more sad and is unneccassary. Sad things should be remembered and honored, not drawn out and over analyzed. I watched more media coverage this morning and heard very disturbing stories from that horrific day. I sympathize for the people involved, but I could have done without hearing about so many sad deaths. Also, it is sad to say that the tribute to 9/11 was so involved in the media for monetary purposes. An example of this are the limited edition coins they are making that you can purchase with the twin towers on them. Businesses will always look for a way to make money, no matter what the situation is. The people who gave their lives on that fateful day will forever be my heroes, but reliving that day will not make it any more sad or meaningful than before.

  2. This is such a touchy subject. I don’t think the world needs to see so much of what happened on 9/11, and to keep reminding us of it. It was an awful thing that happened to our country and I honor those that have done some much for us after this happened. But we don’t need to continue to see the images of 9/11. Especially sharing it with children. I completely agree with what Roxanne Silver said about “overexposing our children to this”. 9/11 will always be remembered..but its not neccassary to make people feel more sad about it then they already do.

  3. I’m actually kind of torn on this subject because in a sense I do agree that 9/11 has been overexposed and some footage may be unnecessary to show the public over and over, but on the other hand, it is what it is and it did happen. I really don’t believe in “sugar coating” anything. Usually for me, if I’m saying something or telling a story, I’m going to tell it exactly how it is. When I turned on my TV the night of 9/11, every news channel was airing some sort of remembrance to the day. One in particular aired a documentary that was initially supposed to be about firefighters and was being shot on 9/11, but accidentally became a film about the events that occurred. Nothing was edited, including harsh language and frightening images. Personally, I believe as a society we are all kind of a bit morbidly curious. We’ve all seen the footage of the planes crashing into the towers and people running, but unless you were actually there, you don’t really know what it was like. And for me, I was thirteen years old, so I was still fairly young and incapable of truly understanding and grasping what had happened. When I watch all the footage in the documentary of these people who were actually inside the towers where everything was happening, I can’t help but be fascinated while also being heartbroken at the same time. In my opinion, if you don’t want to see all the footage, then don’t watch it. There’s nothing worse than when people or the public tiptoe around a big event that’s happened, and no one talks about it.

  4. I personally think that 9/11 is, and will always be a very delicate subject and we never truly have a concrete limit for how much is too much when it comes to the media coverage that surrounds this event. “Never Forget” has easily become one of, if not the most, used slogans regarding 9/11 in the U.S. I think that this tragic event is our hearts whether the extensive media coverage is present or not.
    I also think that the media often takes advantage of moments of grief, especially when it comes to 9/11 anniversaries. They try to focus their sales on either nationalistic ideals or try to capture the audience’s attention by portraying various stories of grief and death that are often accompanied by gruesome images and videos.
    Nowadays television is easily available to everyone, and often times it is hard to censure, so I think that parents should keep an alert eye on their children’s media consumption at all times to avoid exposure to graphic images.
    In the end I think it is sad, but the media always has, and always will, try to create business opportunities to make money out of tragic events like this one.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this artice. i have to agree with you all here. I understand that this was a life changing moment in United States history but we must move on. We must realize that we have to move on and attempt to grow and put this in our past. There is way too much coverage and things every year about 9-11. Not everyone wants to relive these tragic moments.

  6. 9/11 is a event where I remember exactly what I was doing when i heard the tragic news that the twin towers were being terrorized. I was walking to my 3rd period class as a freshman in high school when a buddy broke the horrible news to me. Still to this day I find any footage or interview from 9/11 to be very interesting. I’m still amazed by the events that took place that day. When i watched the footage of the plane going into the the south tower yesterday, my jaw dropped yet again. It’s the most amazing,sad, gut wrenching video that I will probably ever see in my lifetime. I do however, feel that it’s extremely important to still cover 9/11 and make it a big deal. I feel like this is a great chance for our country to come together as one and unite. I love how are country came together and rallied against terrorism. I think its extremely important to put the message out their to other countries that this event made us stronger. I’m very proud to be an American and I think it’s important to remember those who passed away or were affected by that tragic day!

  7. I enjoyed this article very much. I honestly never thought about too much exposure from the media on the images and videos collected 10 years ago but what you are saying makes sense. There has been too much exposure and it does do more harm than good to keep playing the footage from that day. We always want to remember such a tragedy but never to relive it. My dad was in New York on a business trip during the attacks and he could not even begin to describe the chaos and fear he witnessed. Although he has never said it, I’m sure watching reliving the experience through the media is not something he enjoys or wants to celebrate. I think the NFL, for example, did a great job with honoring the heroes that lost their lives during the attacks by displaying an American flag the size of the football field for the games that were played that day and giving them a tribute instead of showing the footage of people jumping out of the towers and chaos in the streets.

  8. I completely agree that the images are too graphic for the younger generation to see. It is a very complex and confusing situation to young children, and there is something to be said for innocence. I believe we can portray the events and the multitude of tragedies the population encountered, but we need to remember the loved lost ones in the way that they lived, not how they died. 9/11 should be remembered for the heros and people who put their lives on the line, and for the people who lost their lives for our country.

  9. Simply stated, September 11th will forever be apart of our history. Our generation may never read about it in a text book, but those following us will. Showing things like this on TV is in no way insensitive. The people who died that day serve as a reminder to the strength of our country and our ability to unite in time like these. Saying that showing clips of this day is insensitive, is like saying showing images of Pearl Harbor or the Vietnam war is inappropriate. All of these things are part of our history and are important for those who didn’t experience the day to learn about. I do agree that the amount of graphic images should be limited (such as images of people that are suffering), but honestly the crashing of the planes is important for people to see so they truly understand the ramifications of that day.

  10. Like everyone in America, I remember exactly what I was doing and the exact moment I found out what had happened to the World Trade Centers. However, I was only in 6th grade and I was very unsure about what was really happening. I remember watching the news with my parents while they were crying, causing me to cry without even being fully aware of the situation.
    The graphic content that is being replayed over and over again on TV is not some made up MTV reality show though. America was really under attack, and many people really died. As a child, I was not fully able to comprehend the magnitude of what all of this meant, but watching it 10 years later is much easier to digest.
    If parents don’t want to subject their young children to the graphic, disturbing images associated with 9/11, then the best idea would be to leave the TV off or make sure they don’t watch those channels. However, once these kids grow up, they should be able to witness for themselves the disturbing events that unfolded on that September day, because it really happened.
    Many people complain about the media not giving the whole story, or covering up certain aspects of what is actually happening. 9/11 is not something you can cover up, cause it was real and we watched it unfold on live television.

  11. This is pretty interesting. I was one of those people who sat on 9/11 and thought the least I could do was watch all the footage and memorials to honor the people that lost their life’s that day. I watched an interview of some of the broadcasters that were live that day in 2001. It was very interesting to see them talk about having to worry about what was aired and not because it was so graphic. They did not want to show actual footage of people jumping out of the windows because it was just to graphic and to much for the American people to see on live tv. They had to find an appropriate line and not let the videos cross that. He said that he did not think it was a good idea to show people taking their own lives on national tv. Everyone should watch a decent amount of 9/11 footage just to understand what happened and what these victims went through.

  12. I completely agree with Lindsay. I was also glad to read this article. The freaking 9-11 towers coin is absolutely ridiculous. Yet another dumb item to put on a shelf that middle-aged couples can stare at and feel more patriotic because they bought it for 19.99. Great investment. But this coin isn’t the only thing. Football commercials gains from this as well. I was watching some football game Sunday I think. Jets? I’m not sure, I’m not a fan, but I have a male roommate. Either way I was watching the commercials and there was this majestic commercial of these BEAUTIFUL Clydesdale horses. It was very regal and actually really inspiring. They did a great job on the ethos appeal there. at the end it was like “HONOR”, remember 911, or something like that. But of course when you see those horses you think one thing, Budweiser. and Sure enough it was a Budweiser commercial. With that beautiful logo right after the little remembering slogan they were going for. I don’t know why I was so turned off by that but it really kind of ticked me off. Like not only does football and Budweiser SCREAM America but when you add the 911 thing in there too I was just like “give me a break…” Overall When a beer company and sports games are using a horrifyingly devastating event in American history as an advertising campaign I feel we all need to rethink some morals here. I know PR and advertising sometimes has people reaching for any little thing they can use as appeal to viewers but we get it. 911 happened. I don’t need Budweiser or the Jets to pretend they feel sorry. I still don’t drink that crap beer anyway and I love soccer.

  13. I believe the video and images of the tragic day of September 11th, 2001 are a very important part of the representation of what happened that day and the reason why we say “May We Never Forget.” The images and video are extremely graphic but in comparison to video and images of the holocaust that are commonly shown, they expose the true terror and show the world that this is absolutely unacceptable. I also believe that adults and children are exposed on a daily basis by the media to images and video that by far surpass available footage of the September 11th attacks. Another key aspect here is discretion. If you don’t want your children to watch or see the images, monitor or restrict their viewing. If you don’t wish to view the media, then turn off your television or computer. Everyone is entitled to their own personal freedom. Make your choice…

  14. I had a conversation with my father on Skype last night about this specific topic and I was glad I found this post. My father and I agreed that it’s nice to see what the country did post-9/11, for the rest of 2001. It was nice to see the open patriotism and genuine love for your fellow man and country. However, I don’t really want to relive the experiences of the tragedy every September. Sadly enough, this country has been resorting to 9/11 as a way to profit in posting magazines dedicated to the attacks and publishing works every year. It’s just become another way for tabloids to earn money and it’s rather sickening. I lived in NJ the year it happened, I was scared and I was 11 years old. I will NEVER forget where I was, who I was with and what I saw and constantly being reminded of it every year is getting to be too much.

  15. I also agree that 9/11 has been having too much media coverage. I doubt the families of the victims want to see the constant footage of the planes hitting the buildings over and over again. I appreciate the memorial services and think that for the 10 year anniversary that it was appropriate to have the coverage to that extent to remind the country and the families of that we will never forget that day, however, the footage from that day could have been lessened and the actual service could have been the focal point of the day.

  16. There is no doubt that this is a day to be remembered forever, but I definitely agree that horrific images do not need to be a part of that remembrance. It is a rare occurrence that an act of war takes place on American soil and as a people we do not take such acts lightly, but it makes me wonder when 9/11 will only be memorialized as much as the attack on Pearl Harbor is today. December 7th doesn’t mean much to many people anymore, and I can see that 9/11 is headed in that direction. The people lost on that day are certainly still missed, but our mourning as a nation seems to have become less sincere as we only really focus on remembering them every 10 years. It seems that someday 9/11 will only be remembered in the small print on a calendar.

  17. Although I understand what this post is saying, I can not help but disagree. I know there needs to be a limit on how much information, images, etc. is to be displayed for the public, I personally think that the information, stories, and images shown to us regarding the September 11th attacks are necessary and relevant. Some of the pictures are hard to watch and some of the stories are hard to hear, but the reality of these images and stories is that they happened. We can compare this to the Holocaust in a way. Images and stories are shown and shared in school regarding the Holocaust, but they are shown in order to make people realize that this event happened and that people suffered. Sharing stories and images of people tends to resonate more with other people, and if you discount that information, I think that the severity of the event lowers, especially for the future generations who were not here to witness and experience the effects of the attacks.

    Mitchell Lee

  18. I agree with this blog. I feel that the media does over play some of the horrific images from that tragic day. However i dont think that these images should be completely taken away from the public. Its ones choosing to watch them or not wether if its on televison or on the internet. It really gives a true sense and feeling to what all Americans were feeling when they saw it live on television that day. I just dont feel it should be played so much or as easily accessed as it is.

  19. I totally agree with this article and especially with Claire’s response. This was a complete tragic event that reached so many people on so many levels. 3,000 people died on this day all around the same time, which is huge. That reaches human emotions on a huge level and for people to profit off of that emotion is wrong and inhumane. I saw an advertisement for a memorable coin, one side with twin towers, and the other with a crying bald eagle. Luckily I don’t know many people in their right mind who would buy that coin, but the whole purpose behind it was not very noble. However in my preadolescent years I did buy a t-shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch which all proceeds went to FDNY firefighters and that happened a week after 9/11. I think organizations that raise money around close parties and people involved are alright, but to capitalize on a widespread human emotion is satanic.

  20. I somewhat agree with this post because although we were flooded with graphic 9-11 videos and news reports to the point where it got a little suffocating, we must still remember and honor the victims and heroes of 9-11. We cannot shy away from everything that is bad because then we would be ignorant and would never progress. What happened on 9-11 is not something we can simply put aside or make it seem less graphic than what it really was. I think that overall, we should just tone down the graphicness of all the images shown on TV. It is one thing to remember 9-11 in order to honor the victims and it is another to show extremely graphic images to get more viewers. The children of America need to know what happened and remember it in the most respectful way.
    -Lucy Rojo

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