It's been six years since the attacks on the World Trade Center. And certainly the world has moved on. Driving down the West Side Highway yesterday I looked out the bus window as we made our way to Battery Park for my son's field trip to Ellis Island. Outside, it was clear that the there was construction activity taking place at the site. I paused for a moment. Later, from Ellis Island -- I couldn't help but look back at Manhattan and think about where those building had been and what the new 'Freedom Tower' will look like when it takes it's place in the skyline.
Mostly my thoughts about 9/11 are now about the future, about progress, about rebuilding. Mostly.
So I found myself surprisingly overcome sitting in a movie theater full of 9-year-olds watching Spiderman 3. Now, maybe its just me, or maybe its the fact that I was close enough to the attacks to have it burned into my brain -- but as the Sandman attacks the city, and knocks a huge construction crane off it's base -- i found myself stunned. Images of a New York skyscraper with a gash in its side, with people hanging on for dear life... then slowly sliding out of the buildings now crippled facade. The dreadful slow-motion fall of one of the film's damsels in distress. Of courses, in the movie, Spiderman swings in at the last minute and breaks her fall -- a fairy tale ending. But in real life, there was no such superhero. And for New York, images of burning buildings and falling bodies are far too real to be left to the realm of entertainment.
Maybe its me. Maybe New York deserves to be blown up, torn asunder, attacked by aliens or any other sort of dark force. All's fair in cartoons and comic books I suppose. But why buildings? Why torn up skyscrapers? Why people tumbling to their death. Perhaps the studio and the director considered it -- and decided that it was time to return New York to the center of the universe, where anything good -- or bad -- can happen. I hope they had that conversation. But I fear instead that it never crossed anyone's mind. That no one said --"Hey, is this really a good idea?" Do kids in NY need to see towers destroyed and people dying -- or can't we find another stunt for the villain to inflict upon Gotham?
I have to say -- I've been pleased that the folks at Fox have kept the terrorists from 24 in Los Angeles. I'm not sure why they've attacked LA so many times -- but that seemed to me to be a reasonable target. After-all, New York has had more than it's share. But I hear that even 24 is going to shift its focus to New York next season. That would be hard to watch. I'd invite Jack Bauer to stay in LA.
I'm not suggesting that New York should somehow be exempt from depictions of crime, or violence, or even terrorism. Hey, let's face it -- New York has lots of great icons for moviemakers. The Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Times Square. I get it. If you're Spiderman, you need tall stuff to swing on. We're a great superhero playground. But tearing a gash out of tall buildings, and leaving the building with its inhabitants clutching for dear life -- come on. It's time that Hollywood remind itself that real humans watch its movies. And somethings are best left on the cutting-room floor.