Sunday, September 03, 2006

Do Not Censor Heroes

By Kanrei

I think I am suffering from déjà vu right now. It would not be the first time. When Barry White died my first response was, “Again?” The same thing happened again when Bob Hope died. Now I am feeling it again.

There is a documentary about 9/11 that was filmed on the actual day.  There is nothing re-enacted.  Everything is real and as it happened.  It was called simply "9/11" and was narrated by Robert De Niro.  It is a freak of history the tape even exists, but it does and is a record of bravery and sacrifice.

Two French documentary film makers, brothers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, were making a movie about a year in the life of a rookie fire fighter in New York.  They were with Engine 7, Ladder 1 in Manhattan, NY and, as fate would have it were among the first to respond to the scene on that horrible day.  They not only shot the only known footage of the first plane hitting the towers, but they have footage from inside WTC one through the collapse of WTC two.  This is more than a documentary, this is history as it happened.

CBS has aired the documentary twice already in fact, once on the six-month anniversary and the second time on the one year anniversary of the terror attacks. Both times it aired there was little if no controversy surrounding the language found on the tapes. It seems that people curse quite a bit when faced with death and destruction and we as a nation realized the importance of what we were seeing. We looked beyond the bad words and focused on what was important.  Now it also appears that some of us have forgotten because there is a controversy about it airing again on the five-year anniversary.

The problem is the broadcasters are scared right now post-Janet Jackson. They fear the fine increase that was $32,500 and is now $325,000. They fear a finicky and ever changing definition of what is obscene. Twelve CBS affiliates have already declined to show this powerful documentary and another twelve said they will show it later at night. This is all about words being spoken amid carnage and chaos. The focus on what is obscene in this is ridiculous beyond words.

Martin Franks, who is the executive Vice President of CBS has defended showing this documentary uncut. He was quoted in the AP as saying:

We don't think it's appropriate to sanitize the reality of the hell of Sept. 11th…It shows the incredible stress that these heroes were under. To sanitize it in some way robs it of the horror they faced.

In response to this comes the white hats. The American Family Association and its three million brainwashed members are ready to fight. "This isn't an issue of censorship. It's an issue of responsibility to the public," said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the AFA. According to the AP, they are “a 29-year-old organization that promotes the biblical ethic of decency.” Seems the biblical ethic of decency involves censoring history and bullying.

Again from the AP:
Sharp promised on Friday that his organization would flood the FCC with complaints, saying nearly 198,000 people already had told the FCC they want the agency to ‘enforce the law should CBS decide to break it.’

It is illegal to complain about a show before it is seen. The FCC does not stop shows from airing, it only responds to legitimate complaints from viewers. How exactly have these 198,000 people been offended by something that has yet to air? If they are complaining about the previous showings, they are about four years too late.

I saw this documentary four years ago. I do not remember the cursing. I do not remember anything that was said by anyone in it. I do remember the thumping sound that went unexplained for ninety minutes before someone said it was the sound of jumpers hitting the ground. That stands out very strongly in my memory to this day.

If you are looking at this and the only thing that bothers you is the language being used by the firefighters and police officers who are dying to save people, you have issues beyond anything the FCC can help you with. Your heart is too cold and your vision too narrow and I feel for you.


Serena Joy said...

It's hard to believe that people would try to make an issue of "language." This happened. It was real. Terrified, dying people don't sit around wringing their hands, saying, "Oh, my goodness!" "Oh, golly gee!" Sanitizing it is just plain wrong. The censors need to get a grip.

RexZeitgeist said...

Agreed Serena