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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

Destroying a Memory

by Neena Louise

Since the tragedy of September 11th, I have noticed a most disturbing trend: the digital removal of the World Trade Center from television and movies.

Why is this deemed necessary? If you ask those responsible, they insist it's because they don't want to upset people. Upset people?? I got news for you: we're already upset. The sight of the World Trade Center in television shows and movies uplifts - not upsets - us. To see the Towers standing in all their glory is a wonderful sight. Why would anyone find this upsetting? Law & Order: SVU has already deleted the Twin Towers from their opening sequence (I'm not sure if the original Law & Order ever had them in their opening sequence, but they sure don't now!); the movie Serendipity digitally removed the Towers before its release; other movies were delayed or re-shot because the sight of the Towers was deemed "too upsetting"...the list goes on.

I think this is a deplorable practice and it really has to stop. I heard one individual put it thusly: If your grandfather dies, you're not going to cut him out of all the family snapshots. You're more likely to WANT to keep his picture around as a fond reminder. In the case of the World Trade Center, it's not only a fond reminder, it's also a fitting tribute to the thousands that lost their lives. I heard that, shortly after September 11th, the sight of the World Trade Center in a movie had New Yorkers on their feet, cheering. I find myself actually craving the sight of the World Trade Center and have lately been pawing through my massive video collection to find movies that have the Towers' images.

I find that digitally removing the World Trade Center from TV and movies is horribly disrespectful. It's almost as if they want us to think the Towers never existed at all or perhaps they think if we lose all visual memory of the Towers, we'd forget the tragedy ever happened. Just forget the thousands (nay, millions) of people that were affected by their destruction. I'm thankful that television has stopped the repetitive September 11th footage of the Towers collapsing; however, I'm appalled that the World Trade Center is systematically being erased from our video images.

What's next? Digitally erasing the section of the Pentagon that got damaged, so that it becomes the Square? Never showing us farm fields in Pennsylvania? Never have anything blow up? Never show another plane crash? The TV-viewing public is far more resilient than the networks think, and seeing the World Trade Center as a symbol to be erased could very well be exactly what Osama bin Laden had in mind. We need to be able to cheer what we stand for - not hide from tragedy and pretend it never happened. I am insulted and disappointed that television programming thinks we're too weak to cope with images of what we've lost. If that were the case, there really would be nothing left to fight for.

We want - and need - to see the Twin Towers soaring majestically above the Manhattan skyline. As far as I'm concerned, removing The World Trade Center from our entertainment is tantamount to destroying it all over again.

Readers Respond

Here are a few of the responses that Neena has received.
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I would like to tell you how much I agree with you. Removing the towers from television is, to say the least, ridiculous.

Two months ago I was walking past the television in my living room and noticed the towers being shown on the screen. I sat down and waited to see another shot. Unbelievably I was glued to the TV set waiting for more shots of the towers. I ended up watching the whole movie, forgetting about why I was walking past the television.

I believe that seeing them standing gives this former New Yorker a glimpse of what I remembered them to be. For 15 years I traveled the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn to my job in Manhattan and I remember always raising my head from a book I was reading, or the newspaper I was browsing just to look at those towers.

I wish they would not remove their memory from TV. That is a precious piece of history and seeing them does not in the least cause any more pain than bringing them down did. They were a great symbol of New York life. They will be missed.

Monica Adams


I watch NYPD Blue reruns just to get one more quick glimpse of the twin towers. The movie "Cocktail" had a beautiful shot of them at night which was cut out in a recent TV showing. I was horribly disappointed. Your philosophy is very sound and it certainly reflects the feelings of the American public. I will never understand why the twin towers are being edited out of everything as if they were never there. It is almost as sickening as their very destruction in the first place.

Betsy Sinkey

 
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