The WTC attacks have sounded the death knell for irony, says Brendan O'Connor
POSH'S face has been replaced in the tabloids by po-faced. Hollywood has practically shut down and now even the BBC are saying they might not make such a big deal of the death of the Queen Mum. Rather they will reflect her death "in a different way to the way we mark the premature end of a young life". In other words, a lot of stuff doesn't seem as important or appropriate any more.
Every pundit worth his salt is lining up to tell us that the tone of the world has changed. Apparently, earnest is the new cool, movies will never be the same again and cynicism is dead. The Americans have a name for it already "Emotional Correctness" or to the rest of us, the death of irony.
The rapid change of tone was exemplified in the fact that the Spring/Summer 2002 fashion collections were showing in New York the week of the 11th. Mark Jacobs had shown his best-ever collection the night before, followed by a celeb-studded party on the Chelsea Piers. A few days later the Chelsea Piers would be home to a temporary morgue. Indeed the audience at Liz Lange maternity show on the morning of the 11th were informed that a plane had hit the WTC but the show went on anyway. They weren't to know how frivolous it would all seem just a few hours later.
Hollywood has been the hardest hit with billions of dollars of movies being "bin-ed". Among the many films set to be postponed indefinitely are Jackie Chan's Nosebleed, the story of a window cleaner who foils a terrorist plot. When the hero learns of a plot to bomb the WTC he says, "It represents capitalism, it represents freedom. It represents everything America is about. And to bring those two buildings down would be to bring America to its knees." Miramax are looking at their planned adaptation of Andy McNab's @@STYL cf,mili Crisis 4 @@STYL cf,mils which features a terrorist attack on the White House. The release of Collateral Damage the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a fire-fighter whose wife and kids are killed by terrorists has been indefinitely postponed as has the release of Scorcese's Gangs of New York. Production has been halted on Fall From The Sky, a film about a plane crash investigation. One of the lines of investigation was to be that the plane was brought down by Osama bin Laden. Hollywood has been hijacked by reality.
Humour too is under threat. Bill Maher, host of US satirical show Politically Incorrect, has been censured by the White House and taken off the air in many cities for a tasteless joke about the US military. Hopefully we'll all calm down a bit.
We're in mourning at the moment and as Woody Allen memorably said, comedy is all about time and pain. We've all invested too much in irony and artifice, developing F Scott Fitzgerald's notion of a personality, "a sequence of successfully executed poses," to start again at ground zero. Posh and Kylie and Robbie are gradually making their way back onto the front pages and Liz Hurley has been out and about in short skirts again.
American online satirical magazine The Onion probably expressed it best with a poster depicting, among others, Britney, Jacko, Liz Taylor and Tom and Penelope, headlined 'A shattered nation longs to care about stupid bullshit again.' Indeed The Onion has been a beacon of old-fashioned irony through all this with headlines like: 'Hijackers surprised to find themselves in hell ("We expected eternal paradise for this")'; 'Rest of country temporarily feels deep affection for New York'; 'God angrily clarifies don't kill rule', 'President urges calm and restraint among nation's ballad singers' and 'Bush asks bin Laden to form a nation that he can attack'. Perhaps the nicest jab of all at the new mood of emotional outpouring was the 'Man uses bombing as excuse to call ex-girlfriend' story. She was glad to hear he was okay but declined his offer to go for coffee sometime.