Remediating the apocalypse

Rewatching September 11

The connection between the images of September 11 and Hollywood film production have been explored extensively (O'Donnell 2004; Wheeler 2003). In the era of the ensuing war on terror the nexus between Hollywood image making and Washington war making has never been more apparent. Tina Chen (2004) has recently reminded us of these connections:

In 2001, the Pentagon hired Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Armageddon, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Pearl Harbor, and Black Hawk Down, to advise on the primetime television series Profiles from the Frontline, which followed U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001. Moreover, as the satirical newspaper The Onion wryly noted in a September 26, 2001 article entitled “American Life Turns into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie,” we tend to make sense of extreme violence through spectacular film moments etched in our imaginations.

Chen goes on to also note the economic imperatives behind such a collusion, not only has the war on terror been skillfully marketed it appears that it has also been trademarked:

On March 21, 2003, one day after the Iraq War began, Sony applied to register the term shock and awe with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Day 2003). Intended as the basis for computer and video games as well as a broadband game played on the Internet, this application joined many others flled in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 seeking to ensure that profits from products bearing phrases such as “Operation Enduring Freedom,” “9-11-01, lest we forget,” and “Let’s Roll” would line the pockets of the savvy entrepreneur. Companies such as News Max Store then made sure products like the “Deck of Death” and its sequel the “Deck of Weasel,” which depicts the fifty-four worst leaders and celebrities who opposed American policy, lined the pockets of the urbane consumer.

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006