Archive - 2011

December 22nd


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Memo to assorted Americans: COME THE FUCK ON.

I thought, once the tenth anniversary of 9/11 passed, that I wouldn't be writing another damn column decrying the hairshirt hagiography when it comes to American attitudes towards the World Trade Center attacks. OK, "thought is too strong a term. Let's try "believed". No, that doesn't work either. Hoped. I hoped that would be the end of it, or at least the end of it rising to the level where it would piss me off.

But as we're about to see, hope has no place in American politics. You'd think I'd have learned that by now.

Ten years later, there are still things you can do that piss off people affected by 9/11, either directly (families, first responders, locals) or indirectly (all the rest of you who seized upon the attacks to fill some kind of deep-seated emotional hate- and/or angst-void). Some of these things, like not paying for the cancer treatments of first-responders before making sure they're not on a terrorist watch list, are valid targets for your anger.

But you know what isn't? South Korean architecture.

I swear, this was a thing last week. Someone noticed a proposed design for a new skyscraper in Seoul. The skyscraper features two towers, and between and around the middle of the towers, there's a "cloud" of more skyscraper. It's actually really cool. It almost looks like pixel art, or Lego. But some people didn't think it was cool, because some people are fucking idiots. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"What were they thinking that is an insult to the famileys that have their loved ones, that an insult to the united states, nothing like agood slap in the Face ,to the country that helps veevryone in the world." - A commenter on AOL news who I have picked because their sentiments represent those reported in the news (with no decent quotes), and the spelling represents them being stupid.

Yes, there were two towers. Yes, for a few hours, smoke came out of them. But the smoke didn't hover around and between the buildings halfway up. The plumes were separate and towards the top. Which means that the people complaining are basically re-creating Rudy Giuliani's last five Rorschach tests.

But even if it did look like 9/11, or evoke 9/11 more than any two buildings with stuff around them would, why should South Korea give a shit? They're on the other side of the world. They've got their own problems. Hell, at the time this architectural kerflufffle happened, they still had a crazed, militaristic short guy with a pompadour threatening their existence every goddamned day. And their threat was a hell of a lot more real than the threat al-Qaeda posed to the average American complaining on the architect's Facebook page.

The firm apologized for the unintentional evocation, but plan to move ahead with the project anyway. This did not make Jim Riches happy.

"I think it’s a total lie and they have no respect for the people who died that day. They’re crossing a line. It looks just like the towers imploding. I think they’re trying to sensationalize it. It’s a cheap way to get publicity. Now, Jim Riches was a deputy fire chief in New York City, and his son died in the attacks, so I'm going to go easy on him and suggest that perhaps his logic is still being clouded, if you'll pardon the term, by emotion.

First, exactly how much respect should a South Korean architectural firm have for 3,000 people who died on the other side of the world ten years ago? Because if we use American respect for any 3,000-person-subset of the hundreds of thousands of people who died on the other side of the world in the past ten years - people we actually went and killed, no less - then I'm pretty sure even saying "I'm sorry if you were offended" puts the South Koreans on the moral high ground.

Second, what line are they crossing? There's no line here. There's an amorphous, fuzzy gray area. You know, like a rising pillar of smoke. Oh, shit. Sorry. My bad.

And third, while I know only slightly more about marketing than a fireman, I'm pretty sure there's no way "Hey, Our Building Looks Like The Twin Towers Exploding" is going to be a successful publicity campaign. There actually is such a thing as bad press. Just ask Newt Gingrich. Even if they thought there might be a slight evocation of 9/11, they probably figured nobody would notice, and if anyone noticed, only crazy people would give a shit. They figured right.