I recently read an article wondering why Hollywood made so many successful movies about WWII during WWII, and yet most all the movies about 9/11 have failed. I think the writer overlooked some very obvious differences about the times–and Hollywood itself.
9/11 was the opening shot in war in the war on terror, just as Pearl Harbor was the opening shot for the United States in WWII. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but while there were plenty of war movies made during WWII, they did not focus on re-enacting Pearl Harbor. Many never even referenced it, or if they did, only in passing. No one needed to be reminded about why we were in the war. They didn’t need to keep dwelling on it.
On the other hand, with 9/11 we saw the footage, and saw it repeatedly. In stark television images we saw the entire thing in greater detail and realism than even Hollywood today could imagine or recreate. Why would we need a film to bring it all back. In contrast, most Americans in WWII would only have radio reports and still pictures to go by for the most part. Movie re-enactments would have been watched, but they would have been greatly sanitized compared to the imagery possible today.
But one should also note the differences between Hollywood during WWII and today. Hollywood jumped enthusiastically onto the war propaganda bandwagon in the 1940s. Every American had to do their part then, and Hollywood wanted to do theirs. They made war movies–and lots of them–to keep up morale “back home”. They stirred up patriotic fervor. They brought us news in ways only they could provide. They were largely right there in the trenches with our troops and part of the war effort at home.
Today’s Hollywood couldn’t want to jump on another bandwagon altogether–the anti-American bandwagon. While a few 9/11 movies came out in support of the firefighters, and the passengers on Flight 93, Hollywood has had very little positive to say about 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror. Any “war movies” they made were about the corruption among our troops, our leaders, and about moral ambiguities and moral-equivalence.
Name one movie about our troops in Iraq that whole-heartedly supported their actions, portrayed them as heroes, and showed them as the nation-builders they were. With the exception late-comer “The Hurt Locker” I can’t think of any. Hollywood couldn’t bring itself to make such a movie, even though it would have made much more money than any of the movies they pushed on us.
The author of the article I read (and I read it several days ago and haven’t been able to find it since, unfortunately), seemed genuinely mystified by the lack of success on 9/11 films, ultimately blaming it on public sensitivities
I think it’s much more simple than that. Hollywood has very little good to say about America these days. Americans have picked up on that. Hollywood can insult us if they wish–it plays (and pays) well overseas. But Americans don’t see any reason to pay $10 to be insulted. It’s not that hard to understand.