"This is not a political film. This is not a political film." Such was the mantra of Oliver Stone during press interviews in the months leading up to the release today.
Stone - in an effort to preemptively knock down mainstream media critics who snivel "conspiracy" every chance they get to disparage Stone's work - reportedly promised his producers to drive this non-political point home so that even the dullest of mainstream commentators would get the picture.
Stone was true to his promise. But considered in the context of the Rove/Bush/Cheney political culture, the wars, the suffering and the division that have been wrought, World Trade Center is the most political film of the year.
World Trade Center tells a story of courage, character and resolve in an age-defining event that Noam Chomsky called "the most devastating instant toll in history outside of war."
It's what my father described to me the JFK assassination was like; an event that "marked time," and defined an era. [I will not comment on the movie plot line or performances of the film; I hate it when reviewers ruin movies, just go see World Trade Center!]
America is an intensely ideological society where brand management, public relations and Rovian defamations have become such a fine craft that even the most outrageous of lies - Saddam's Iraq being a threat to America, gays being out to destroy marriage, and a Vietnam veteran who lost three limbs is a threat to national security as a U.S. Senator - can be sold to much of the citizenry with the assistance of the corporate media.
The villainy of useful scapegoats is carefully manufactured, and the nobility of heroes is easily tarnished today. "I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it," as Dylan wrote.
As an eloquent depiction of the commitment that we all have to each other and how this commitment creates a real human "goodness," this film is a, thankfully, subversive, political action against the make-believe world of Karl Rove.
But, to borrow from the analysis of Hannah Arendt, the "banality" of goodness defines 9/11, cutting through the mad, chaotic spin of today's facile American culture and nihilistic, Rovian politics.
Simple dedication to our fellows in the face of death shows us the American spirit so plainly, and is so inspiring that experiencing World Trade Center, I could swear that Stone sneaked into the film single frames of King, Muste, Knoll, and Dellinger creating a subliminal message of compassion, duty and hope.
These human commitments that to George W. Bush are mere words to be read off a TelePrompTer explode throughout World Trade Center.
What makes these people - Marines, firemen, policemen - care about other people whom they have never met? What mettle makes these men and women? Ask these people, and like that received from most war veterans, you'll get laconic and banal replies.
This spring at an event honoring a heroic Hispanic police officer killed in the line, Richard W. Sanders, a 35-year law enforcement veteran whose D.C. office overlooks the Pentagon about 300 yards away, recalled the surreal scene on 9/11 when a jet crashed into the Pentagon right after the two jets had hit New York. Sanders said he'd never forget it.
But he remembers the RESPONSE of heroes like those in World Trade Center even more clearly.
"We talk too much about celebrities today, not heroes. Basketball players, football players, actors, actresses; they are all fine people. But they are celebrities, not heroes," said Sanders, Special Agent in Charge in the Drug Enforcement Agency. "What I saw after [the crash] is what I like to remember and what I care more about. I saw the fire department, the police department, EMS, FBI, DEA, DOD, ATF, not run away from the problem, but run toward it. They ran toward that building, hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm to say 'What can we do to help?' That's the hero of America."
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