My September 11th Post: Films Featuring 9/11 Allusions

Last week I was watching a copy of Terminator 2: Judgment Day I picked up on Blu-Ray (it looks great) and noticed this:

About a month or so ago when I watched Independence Day (a mistake I’ll never make again) I noticed the countdown clock on Jeff Goldblum’s computer also said 9:11. Now I’m not a conspiracy theory nut but I’ve noticed a great deal of September 11th imagery in films released prior to the attacks. Naturally, the numbers “9-1-1” have connotations in American society extending beyond these events from almost a decade ago (it’s the number we call in an emergency, which I’m assuming everybody knows) but I can’t help feeling those looking for surreptitious government plots are interesting, even if I don’t believe them. I’m sorry but I don’t believe in secret societies the same way some of these people online do and just because the internet is a free forum (for now) doesn’t mean your ideas hold any water. However, being the sick bastard I am sometimes, here are some of my favorite images from pre-9/11 films featuring allusions to September 11th.

Problem Child

First off, I’m certain this reference is pointing towards Junior and not the WTC attacks. For those who haven’t seen Problem Child it’s about an orphan adopted by John Ritter who is a little demon. He causes trouble wherever he goes. His idol is a serial killer (Michael Richards from Seinfeld and UHF) who eventually kidnaps him. This event leads to family togetherness–who would’ve thought? There are a few sequels which are even worse than the original (although the second Problem Child features an excellent projectile vomit scene).

The Big Lebowski

When The Dude grabs some milk from the supermarket he pays with a check (for 69 cents). The date is September 11th. I haven’t seen The Big Lebowski in a few years but I believe the first invasion of Iraq is pictured in the background somewhere during this scene.

The Matrix

Aside from being influenced by William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer and featuring a cinematic representation of Baudrillard’s theories, The Matrix is a mediocre film heralded as the pinnacle of science fiction by many. It’s not that good but it’s funny that Neo’s passport expires on 9/11/01.

Super Mario Brothers

Why was this film ever made? Also, why did Dennis Hopper sign on? Thankfully the film was a flop and Nintendo didn’t try another. Honestly, why would anybody want to watch two Italian-American plumbers jump around in the sewers? It’s one thing to play the game, it’s another to watch a cinematic version with a horrid plot–it’s not like the game was deep. Sure it’s fun but I’m not looking to any of the Mario games for a philosophical discussion of stereotypes or gender roles.

The allusion to September 11th in this film comes in the form of the World Trade Center. Notice how the buildings in this mediocre film resemble the two towers on that day? Naturally I don’t believe those responsible for this horrid movie were prophetic or suggesting a terrorist attack would happen eight years later; instead I think those two buildings were the tallest ones in America and their destruction quite symbolic. The terrorists thought that too; so did Stephen King in the novel The Running Man.

Whatever you believe–9/11 was terrorists (take that for what you wish); it was the government; it was Coca-Cola exacting revenge on the American population for the failure of New Coke–watching images in films from the 20th century featuring these three infamous numbers or images similar to those from that day are comical. The events from Fall 2001 weren’t and the loss of lives is something we should never forget, but after the onslaught of bullshit unleashed by the government and the media’s actions following 9/11 I can’t help but feel the event has lost some of its importance. After all, our elected officials used it as an excuse to wage two wars, usurp our rights (except for religion and guns), and plunge our nation in economic despair. In addition, any criticism of these actions was defended by citing September 11th; in essence, politicians dragged the corpses of those killed around and hid behind them when necessary. I’m not the smartest man in the world but I don’t think that’s any way to honor those who died. In fact, I’m fairly certain that’s pretty tasteless, like pissing on somebody’s grave.

Regardless, the events of September 11th are ingrained into the brains of those who witnessed them. It’s part of our national fabric now and the catalyst for so many of the actions of the last ten years. Whenever I see the numbers 9-1-1 I don’t think about calling the police, firefighters, or paramedics; instead I think of two giant planes flying into the largest buildings in America, killing thousands of people, and sparking two wars which are still going on (and don’t tell me we’re done in Iraq–that’s bullshit). So instead of feeling bad about these events let’s instead play a makeshift version of Where’s Waldo, where we spot September 11th references in films. At least it’ll be better than watching United 93 or Oliver Stone’s horrible World Trade Center flick.

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4 responses to “My September 11th Post: Films Featuring 9/11 Allusions

  1. When I read the about hiding behind the corpses my brain went to the quote from the South Park movie: “Remember Opertaion: Human Shield, protect our tanks and airplanes too!”

    And that is kinda funny how Neo/Mr. Anderson’s passport expired that day. But by then I guess he wouldn’t need to use a plane to fly anyway, heh. I actually liked the first movie a lot, though the two after it were utter garbage. Either way, I liked Agent Smith the best, and between this and LotR which was playing at the same time, the dude’s set for life. Even if his Elf role did make him look like a pansy.

  2. I don’t remember much from The Matrix anymore because I haven’t seen it since 2000 or so. I didn’t really care for it before but I’m quite familiar with the themes and all the plot points because everybody in the Humanities talks about it. They only discuss it constantly because it touches on a long list of critical theory (Foucault, Baudrillard, Nietzsche, and many others); that doesn’t mean it’s a good film. If they talked about philosophy on professional wrestling it wouldn’t make me think it’s not stupid. =)

    I like Hugh Weaving and I liked the LOTR films when I saw them in the theaters. I don’t think I’ll watch them again though as I don’t believe the effects have held up over the years. Sure they looked great in the early ‘00s but they’re dated now; this is my primary criticism of CGI: it dates very quickly since the technology changes frequently. Films that looked amazing in 2001 now look comical. The new Star Wars trilogy is a prime example. However, films which incorporated a small amount of CGI (such as Amelie) still look excellent. I think (and this is purely my opinion) too many filmmakers rely on CGI and don’t realize it makes their works suffer by reducing it to a product solely for its time. The great thing about older films is they still stand up to the test of time; their effects are decent and the story is paramount.

    And yes, Hugo Weaving did look like a pansy in his little elf outfit. =)

  3. There’s a clock on the wall in Deep Impact that reads 9:11

    @1:48

  4. I had to look twice but the clock is at 9:11. Funny. I also saw something about Gremlins 2. Supposedly, there are two microphones next to each other (from local television stations): channel 9 and channel 11.

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