Wednesday, September 12, 2007

FAQ #13: September 11th

I took a bit of a risk yesterday by posting an image on The Internet Art Gallery that might have offended some people. I figured that the more heartfelt tribute in the form of a song that I'd posted on The Civility Webpage II might have balanced it out by expressing my sincere respect for all those who had lost their lives that day, but I was still told that it was in poor taste. I'll admit I can see the point, but I assure you my intentions were honorable.

The truth is that I've run out of September 11th pictures that aren't either in much more poor taste than that, or aren't very clichéd, cheesy propogandist bullshit that you've seen on the Internet for the past six years and can easily find by Googling "September 11th" or "9/11." I searched through my picture database and came upon a few that were poking fun at the tragedy — a Tetris animation, a Wii animation, and a Valentine's card amongst them — and I decided that the Rampage still was probably the least harmful of the candidates. I put it up to be risky, to test the waters by pushing the envelop, and to show the national resolve.

Yes, that's right, to show the national resolve. Look, I'm not going to insult anybody who lost a loved one in the tragedy or the events surrounding it. It's painful, and it sucks. I know this. However, we can't keep treating the event like it's some sort of open wound ready for salt to be poured on it again. Right now, we have any number of groups of international terrorists thinking that they've injured us, that they've weakend us, and most importantly, that we're afraid of them. We have politicians who are desperately using the tragedy as a gambit to terrify what they consider the simple-minded American public into voting for them.

We have to show both of these forms of terrorist that we are not afraid and we will not be manipulated. The best weapon in our arsenal against fear-driven manipulation is humor. If we can feel the freedom to call the bullshit on these groups, then they have more reason to be scared of us than we do of them. If we can summon the courage to laugh in the face of tragedy, then it sends them the distinct message that we have nothing to be fear from them. They hit us hard, and they hit us tragically, yet we can rebound from it, shake it off, and continue enjoying the freedoms they envy. They want us to be afraid of them. When we show them that we are not, then they have more reason to be afraid of us.

I will admit, some September 11th imagery is in very poor taste. Anything that makes fun of the victims or the heroes or the soldiers will not stand. The heroes acted honorably, the soldiers rose to the occasion, and the victims did not deserve their fate. I'm not one to find a great deal of humor in pictures of Osama Bin Laden being fucked up the butt. I'm not one to find a great deal of national pride in pictures of crying eagles or pictures of B-2 bombers with poorly-executed and misspelled captions across them, created and propogated by middle-aged suburban family men who honestly believe that questioning the President is unpatriotic.

Reactionary pictures like those are created out of anger and the desire for vengeance. They're the typical, animalistic human response to an attack. I view vengeful desires as a sign of weakness, that you can't accept someone out there might have shattered your illusions of grandeur by hurting you or besting you. There's a difference between vengeance and justice. We will find those responsible, and we will most likely see them dead, but hopefully not out of vengeance. Hopefully, it will be out of justice.

Instead of threatening or vowing our vengeance like a wounded child, what's wrong with looking at a picture of the smoking towers and making the connection to a video game that we love to play, where cartoonish monsters climb up smoking skyscrapers, punch a few holes in them, and eventually crumble them to the ground? What's wrong with showing our enemies that we can rebound from any punch they throw at us; that we can find the humor in it and shove it right back in their faces? What's wrong with sending them the clear message that we are stronger than them and we are better than them, and they don't scare us?

I'm not necessarily trying to defend my decision to post that picture. I would have to concur that it is in poor taste in order for me to feel the need to defend it. Perhaps just trying to explain to those who might not have fully understood the intentions of the decision. I felt the issue needed to be addressed, so there would be no misconceptions.

It was a fun game, too. Climbing up skyscrapers, punching holes in them, eating people, and sending them crumbling to the ground in a fashion very similar to the Twin Towers. Al Queda, do you think you scared us? We've been doing this exact same thing since the mid-Eighties for entertainment. The only difference is that you did it for real, and now we're coming to hold you responsible for over three thousand deaths. Hope you enjoy your eternal damnation.


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