Helen Benedict, Michael Schudson, and Lynn Chancer provided valuable feedback at the “Media Narratives and Public Opinion in 2011” panel of the Eastern Sociological Society Conference in New York City, March 2012. Heather Levi, as always, provided insightful comments throughout the writing of this essay. Panda Selsey supplied much appreciated research assistance. This project was supported in part by an award from the President’s Fund for Faculty Advancement at Hunter College of the City University of New York.


1. According to a Pew Research Center poll taken in 2011, the nation is divided over whether U.S. wrongdoing prior to the attack motivated it – 43% yes vs. 45% no. This near tie indicates a repositioning since 2001 when only 33% said yes, while 55% said no. Republicans still reject this idea, but Democrats and Independents have shifted. Similarly, majorities think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have either increased our chances of being attacked or have made no difference.[return to page 2]

2. Although the narrative sequence is familiar to us, there are surprises, as when we hear the train-like roar of the debris cloud speeding down the street.

3. Similarly, Kevin Wetmore discusses how the horror film has allegorized 9/11 since 2002, though the inflection here is different from that in the novels of which Versluys speaks. In the horror film, these iconic images appeal to the public fascination with the ruined body – be it the remains of a fragment of a jumper or the broken shards of a Twin Tower – what Mark Seltzer refers to as “wound culture.”

4. Personal meaning is found in the supplementary documentary, Witnesses to 9/11, which presents filmmakers whose work is included in 102 Minutes in confessional mode.

5. In the 2009 non-fiction programming category, sound designer and co-director, Seth Skundrick won an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing, and re-recording mixer Damon Trotta won for Outstanding Sound Mixing. Skundrick also won an Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing. Composer Brendon Anderegg is credited with the original music for the film.

6. The story of how her son was investigated by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism was dramatized in Mira Nair’s segment India in the compilation film 11’09”01 (2002).[return to page 3]

7.The recitation in 2011 was longer because it marked the opening of the national Memorial at Ground Zero. This is why it included the names of people who died in the attack on the Twin Towers in 1993, the Pentagon strike, and the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Together with the readings by politicians and musical performances, it took almost 5 hours to air.

8. With the exception of the broadcast of the film, Loose Change, there was a noticeable absence of any reference to the 9/11-truth movement in the broadcasts.

9. Personal communication, Heather Levi, Feb. 19, 2012.

10. The History Channel documentary, 9/11: The Days After, also a compilation film, dealt with serious consequences and the texture of life after the attack, and aired without commercial breaks.

11. Synecdoche marks 9/11 at many levels. Recall the missing person posters that shortly became funerary, standing in for the bodies not recovered.

Works cited

9/11: The Days After. History Channel, Sept. 9, 2011.
The 9/11 Decade. Al-Jazeera-English, Sept. 6, 2011.

9/11: Timeline of Terror. FOX, Sept. 9, 2011.

10th Anniversary of 9/11. CNNIntl, Sept. 11, 2011.

20/20: Remembrance and Renewal 10 Years After the 9/11 Attacks. ABC, Sept. 11, 2011.

102 Minutes that Changed America. Dir. Nicole Rittenmeyer and Seth Skundrick. Siskel/ Jacobs Productions, 2008. History Channel, Sept. 11, 2011.

Amazon.com, 102 Minutes that Changed America.

Baker, Gary, Richie McDonald, Frank J. Meyers. “I’m Already There.” BNA Records, Mar. 21, 2001.

Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11. CNN,  Sept. 5, 2011.

Boltanski, Luc. Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics. Cambridge University Press, 1999, cited in Knudsen, 122.

Carlin, Phyllis Scott and Linda Park-Fuller. “Disaster Narrative Emergent/cies: Performing Loss, Identity and Resistance.” Text and Performance Quarterly,  32:1 (Jan. 2012): 20-37.

Cauchon, Dennis, and Martha Moore. “Desperation Forced a Horrific Decision.” USA Today, 2008.

Cetinik, Marija. “Sympathetic Conditions: Toward a New Ontology of Trauma.” Discourse, Oct. 2010: 285-301.

Day of Destruction: Decade of War Part 1, 2, 3. MSNBC, Sept. 10, 2011.

Especial 9/11: Diez Anos Despues (10 Years Later). Univision, Sept. 11, 2011.

Hutchings, Stephen. "Television Commemorations and Everyday Nation Building.” Russian Journal of Communication, 3, 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2010): 207-228.

India. 11’09”01. Segment Dir. Mira Nair. CIH Shorts, 2002.

Junod, Tom. “The Falling Man.” Esquire, Sept. 2003.

Junod, Tom.  “Falling (Mad) Men.” Esquire, Jan. 12, 2012.

Knudsen, Britta Timm. “The Eyewitness and the Affected Viewer: September 11 in the Media.” Nordicom Review, 2 (2003) : 117-125.

Levi, Heather. Personal communication. Feb. 19, 2012.

Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup. Dir. Dylan Avery. Collective Minds Media Company, 2005-2009.

Pew Research Center. Ten Years After 9/11: United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies.

Prince, Stephen. Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism. NY: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Saved: The Woolverton Family; The Haskell Family. Animal Planet, Sept. 7, 2011. 

Seltzer, Mark. “Wound Culture: Trauma in the Pathological Public Sphere,” October, 80 (Spring, 1997): 3-26.

Solomon, Robert C. “Real Horror.” Dark Thoughts: Philosophic Reflections on Cinematic Horror. Ed. Steven Jay Schneider and Dan Shaw. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2003: 230- 264.

Topdocumentaryfilms.com, 102 Minutes that Changed America.

Versluys, Kristiaan. Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel, Columbia University Press, 2009.

Wetmore, Kevin. Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema. NY: Continuum, 2012.

Witnesses to 9/11. 2008. History Channel, Sept. 11, 2011.

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