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has american culture really changed?

From a NY Times article on those trashy new "torture" game shows like Fear Factor and The Chair:

What the games share is the sense that something dangerous or grotesque is being safely distanced and defused as entertainment. What viewers seem hungry for is not violence itself but the vicarious assurance that they can survive it, an assurance that is especially valuable in our newly threatened world.


I find it a little disturbing that the Zeitgeist of society's reaction to home-soil terrorism and war gets discussed as a part of why it is that certain TV shows are popular. Seems like, well, that it should be more important than that, somehow.

On a related note, does anyone else find the continually-airing loving tributes to the architecture and engineering of the World Trade Center, and the science-nerd-intellectual programs discussing in great detail exactly how the structure failed and why, a little fatuous?

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( 1 comment — Comment )
jonroma
Feb. 4th, 2002 12:06 pm (UTC)
On a related note, does anyone else find the continually-airing loving tributes to the architecture and engineering of the World Trade Center, and the science-nerd-intellectual programs discussing in great detail exactly how the structure failed and why, a little fatuous?
Indeed. I don't think the twin towers were particularly outstanding from an architectural or engineering point of view. However, without question, they were the dominant part of the lower Manhattan skyline, a part of New Yorkers' daily life, and, according to some, a guiding star for anyone who'd lost their bearings.

The loss of the towers, no doubt, is painful for many. Not only was the city's skyline rudely and abruptly altered, but one can hardly look at Lower Manhattan without noticing the missing towers and, in turn, having a flashback to that Tuesday of horror and death for thousands.

As far as the engineering details of how and why the structures failed, I have to concede that the catastrophic failure of a skyscraper is a rare event and certainly worthy of scientific study. Be that as it may, I do think the discussions on this subject have prattled on longer than necessary.

And do the engineers really think we can or should design a building capable of withstanding the impact of a fully-fueled jumbo jet flown at full throttle by suicidal terrorists?

I don't think it's possible or practical to construct a building that's catastrophe-proof. In any case, I would rather hear more about why human beings are motivated to commit such horrors, and what can be done to prevent them from happening at all.
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