Varifrank tells us why we should see “United 93”.
Varifrank: United 93 and Our “Survivors Guilt”
The United 93 movie represents something else besides a just a movie. It’s the ugly and cold metric of commerce. There are a number of people in the business of producing movies who are betting that Americans won’t go to see this movie. They believe that people do not wish to be reminded of that day. They do not think that Americans will go to see what happened. If United 93 were to fail, it would give rise to the myth that “Americans do not support the war”, which is becoming less a call for “leaving Iraq”, and more often than not is now a call to return to the days of the 1990s, when threats were ignored and allowed to fester into the embolism of 9/11.
They find it very easy to make a movie that drives a wedge into the country and destroys the morale of free people while it gives comfort to our enemies, like “Fahrenheit 9/11”, or creates a series of unsustainable paranoid theories like “Syriana”. But to make a movie about the first battle in the war against terror and show citizens as heroes, that is simply beyond the people who run Hollywood. Its extremely important to me that United 93 does well at the marketplace, because if it were to fail, it would give comfort to those who say there is no heroism in fighting back, that there is only heroism in defeat and dissention.
If United 93 fails at the box office, the war on terror will be re-written in our popular culture the way that returning Vietnam vets were re-written from normal people into murdering psychopaths let loose on the general population. Like it or not, what passes for popular culture very often serves as the basis of history. Popular culture is often the lens by which historical events are later interpreted.
He also manages to say succinctly what I have murdered countless electrons trying to convey.
Life however, is not a movie plot, life is often cruel and unforgiving and things in the world often fall right to hell, even for very good people and innocent children.
These days too many people seem to view the world as a movie. There’s a beginning, in which you learn all about the characters, a middle, where various things, usually heroic, happen, and an end, where things finally work out and it’s all done within a condensed time frame. There’s a feeling that whatever the question, there should be a neat answer that wraps everything up and then the credits should roll. Everything in a nice neat little box to be put on the shelf and labeled “GWOT”, “Iraq War, or “Iranian Nukes”. Some people actually seem to think that all these things are separate from each other and should be dealt with individually.
In the movies they would be.
In reality things are not that simple, and never were. Events that are separated by thousands of miles feed on one another to bring about another event thousands of miles separated from the first ones. The butterfly’s wings in Mexico bring about, not cyclones in India, but slaughters in Africa. It’s all connected in myriad ways that we can only guess at and there’s no director to say “cut”.
I have heard people say of someone that they, “didn’t deserve to die like that”. But people don’t die the deaths they “deserve”, they just die. Sometimes good people die in bad situations, such as the airline passengers on 9/11 and other times, bad people like Yasser Arafat, die peacefully. The major cause of death in the world, other than old age, is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there is no way of knowing in advance what that place and time is.
There is no movie and you are not the star, you are, at best, one of the bit players and, at worst, one of Star Trek’s “red shirts”.