14 September 2008

I Will Remember You

Every year I avoid 9/11. I either spend the majority of the day in my house watching television (something completely innocuous) or I turn off the tv and avoid major news outlets, etc. I don't like to remember that day. And it's actually a lot easier to do in California. But today I woke up and they were airing an episode of Iconoclasts* on the Sundance Channel which featured Renee Zelleweger interviewing Christian Amanpour.

They talked a lot about the news media's role in the world as truth-tellers. Obviously Amanpour is a shining example of that. They discussed Rwanda and Amanpour's personal guilt about the media not stepping in and eventually they talked about 9/11. They walked throughout the construction site for the new tower and memorial park and they discussed how the media, in deference to the experience we'd all gone through, tempered their reporting and only now were they slowly building back to the way it had been. That really made me think. Amanpour said that there was an Edward R. Murrow quote that she uses as her mantra:

This instrument [television] can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.

This quote means everything today. I think the reason why I avoid 9/11 every year is because I get so sick of seeing politicians using this medium to capitolize on a tragedy. At the same time, I'm conflicted because sometimes I use that "box" to avoid hearing or seeing anything of any significance. To be honest, I don't think the news media is getting better. I think that if The Daily Show wasn't funny (and therefore didn't pull in ratings), we wouldn't have a true unbiased news outlet. The media is supposed to act "without fear or favor". We always want to talk about how Americans have freedom of the press but do we have an unbiased press? No.

I'm not sure where or what I'll be doing next September 11th but I'm going to try not to avoid it. I hope that this country will have progressed and that journalists will be holding our government leaders accountable but mostly I hope that it won't hurt so much to remember.

*If you've never seen it Iconoclasts is a really great show that pairs celebrities with their idols to conduct an interview. One of my favorite episodes is Alicia Keys & Ruby Dee.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Simpson said...

Thanks for writing this. I understand. Strange how it's the comedians who can "get away with" showing the other side. I read a book that really illuminated how one's govt. can spiral out of control into craziness with the tacit "approval" of the masses. It's a diary from an ordinary German citizen on life in Germany from the first WW to the rise of Hitler. Comedy during Hitler's power was the only way to, very nervously, recognize that others were also scared to death. This book is called "Defying Hitler" by Sebastian Haffner. It was published posthumously by his son. Fascinating read on how Hitler was once considered something of a joke in the world of German politics, too "out there" to be taken seriously. Another good read from the past that's pertinent today is "It Can't Happen Hear" by Sinclair Lewis.