Monday, September 04, 2006

CBS Should Use YouTube to Air 9/11 Documentary

After paying out millions of dollars in fines due to Janet Jackson baring her boob during the 2004 Super Bowl half time show, CBS is worried about airing a 9/11 documentary due to the profanity and graphic images.

I saw this documentary on CBS (or was it ABC) about 3-years ago. I taped it and I still have it on VHS. The documentary captured the sounds, sights and emotions of that day. It's also the only known footage of the first plane hitting the North tower. It's available for sale on Amazon.

This documentary was filmed by 2 French brothers - Jules and Gedeon Naudet - and the original intent of the documentary was to capture a typical day of a rookie firefighter. Of course, that typical day turned into one of the most dramatic days in American history.

It is indeed graphic. The brothers talked about some of the things they saw, but chose not to film. For example, a woman exited one of the elevators and she was engulfed in flames, according to one of the brothers. She was in the elevator when the plane hit and the kerosene dripped down the elevator shaft and she was the unfortunate victim. One of the brothers said he's been haunted by that image ever since.

There was another scene where you could hear the sounds of those who jumped from the top floors hitting the ground below. I'll never forget hearing that sound in the film. Never.

So, I can understand CBS' nervousness. They don't want to be hit with more fines. However, to censor the sights and sounds of that day doesn't make sense to me. Each of us saw the mayhem, others experienced it first-hand. I remember being in my apartment at 2am after sleeping for about 6-hours, totally exhausted by the reality of that day. I was jumpy. Everytime I heard a plane go overhead, I sat up, worried that it was coming for my apartment. It took me 3-days before I could sleep without the lights on, and even then, every little sound I heard woke me up.

I wasn't there in New York that day, but man, those images were just so surreal. My sisters and I thought it was a movie. When you don't grow up around violence and you see it happening on TV in real life, we as North Americans can only equate it to a blockbuster Hollywood film.

At the end of the day and at this point in my life, nothing surprises me anymore. Emotions are still raw, even five years later. So, if CBS is nervous about airing the documentary, use YouTube. There's no censorship and then people can have conversations about what they saw.

Now, I'm not advocating that the documentary be shown raw. The brothers who filmed the documentary did say that there were things they saw that they chose not to film. And frankly, I don't need to see human suffering on TV. It's the reason why I avoid films such as Saw, Hostel and anything produced by Quentin Tarantino.

However, put the video on YouTube and just let the conversations take place. Stop being so nervous and just let the people use the documentary as a way to remember and heal through dialogue.

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