Still painful, Sept 11 has few rewards for Hollywood

Wed Sep 7, 2011 1:09am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It was a disastrous attack that played out live on television 10 years ago, riveting a horrified nation for days.

But the thought-provoking films and TV shows that followed, depicting the fiery attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, have mostly been shunned by American audiences who favored escapist movies and almost-reality TV while wars raged in Iraq and Afghanistan in the decade that followed.

Culture watchers and media pundits say U.S. audiences are not yet ready to relive a memory that remains painful, and some experts note that this particular chapter of American history is still unfinished.

"Films about 9/11 run the risk of being exploitational because they deal with such an epic tragedy and they don't have a resolution. One of the things Hollywood wants is a happy ending, and you are not going to get it," said Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of "Film and Television after 9/11" and a professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Ten years on, the trauma of September 11 and the ongoing U.S. war against terrorism have left their mark on pop culture in subtle yet omnipresent ways. And perhaps surprisingly, Muslims have escaped the widespread demonization on screen that many feared when followers of Osama bin Laden crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"After 9/11, I was terrified of the direction this country was going to go toward Muslims," said Kamran Pasha, one of the few Muslim screenwriters in Hollywood.

"But in many ways, Hollywood is showing more sophistication and empathy toward the Muslim community than I think a lot of people in America are," Pasha said.

BOX OFFICE FLOPS   Continued...

<p>The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this September 11, 2001 file photograph. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek/Files</p>