9/11: Mel Brooks Was Right


Once again, it is September 11th, the day we recognize al-Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, as well as the horrifying 1973 coup d’etat in Chile. Pinochet’s crimes against humanity have become part of our common history, something we condemn strongly but perhaps not necessarily live with as intensely as people did in 1973. The same thing is beginning to happen with the events of 9/11, especially after last year’s 10th anniversary. Is that a good thing?

Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths. In doing so, we should remember that Hitler did have some talents. He was able to fool an entire population into letting him be their leader. However, this role was basically a few numbers too great for him – but he simply covered over this deficiency.

The quote belongs to Mel Brooks and is lifted from an interview with Der Spiegel where he’s defending not only the right but duty to ridicule Adolf Hitler. That’s the way to do it, rob him of his posthumous power. The same goes for Osama bin Laden, who’s portrayed in the Family Guy clip above as a bumbling fool who’s eventually defeated by Stewie in a Naked Gun parody. No longer do we view 9/11 under a cloud of sorrow as seen in movies like United 93 and World Trade Center. We’ve created a distance between ourselves and that day in 2001 – and it’s perfectly normal.


Sure, we’ll still see an earnest, very intense movie like Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty get released this December, but that’s only because the killing of bin Laden happened not long ago. Films dealing with 9/11 that look like they were ripped from headlines are a thing from the past. Nowadays, disappointments like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) are called out for being exactly that (although, in all honesty, few 9/11 movies prior to that did disappoint as much).

Life goes on, and that’s not an easy thing to accept. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have spent the last year arguing over who should pay for the 9/11 museum in the city. Instead of airing a moment of silence this morning, NBC’s Today Show featured an interview with Kris Jenner about Keeping Up With the Kardashians. And on Good Morning America today, Richard Gere admitted to not even realizing what day it was until he came on the show.

Life goes on and 9/11 is becoming a part of history just as Pinochet’s crimes against humanity. Isn’t that what people kept saying on September 12th, 2001? We need to go on living like we always did, or the terrorists will win.

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