Cultural influence of the September 11 attacks

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The cultural influence of the September 11 attacks (9/11) has been profound and long-lasting. The impact of 9/11 has extended beyond geopolitics into society and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance, and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of American flags. [1] The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists, and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative or thematic elements in film, television, music and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns. [2] 9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite lack of support from scientists, engineers, and historians. [3] 9/11 has also had a major impact on the religious faith of many individuals; for some it strengthened, to find consolation to cope with the loss of loved ones and overcome their grief; others started to question their faith or lost it entirely, because they could not reconcile it with their view of religion. [4] [5]

September 11 attacks Attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,977 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people have died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

The post-9/11 period is the time after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, characterized by heightened suspicion of non-Americans in the United States, increased government efforts to address terrorism, and a more aggressive American foreign policy.

9/11 conspiracy theories conspiracy theories regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

There are many conspiracy theories that attribute the planning and execution of the September 11 attacks against the United States to parties other than, or in addition to, al-Qaeda including that there was advance knowledge of the attacks among high-level government officials. Government investigations and independent reviews have rejected these theories. Proponents of these theories assert that there are inconsistencies in the commonly accepted version, or evidence that was either ignored or overlooked.


The culture of the United States succeeding the attacks is noted for heightened security and an increased demand thereof, as well as paranoia and anxiety regarding future terrorist attacks that includes most of the nation. Psychologists have also confirmed that there has been an increased amount of national anxiety in commercial air travel. [6]

Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of other people also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional. Paranoia is a central symptom of psychosis.

Due to the significance of the attacks, media coverage was extensive, including disturbing live pictures, and prolonged discourse about the attacks in general, resulting in iconography and greater meaning associated with the event. Don DeLillo called it "the defining event of our time".[ citation needed ] The attacks spawned a number of catchphrases, terms, and slogans, many of which continue to be used more than a decade later.

Iconography Branch of art history

Iconography, as a branch of art history, studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images: the subjects depicted, the particular compositions and details used to do so, and other elements that are distinct from artistic style. The word iconography comes from the Greek εἰκών ("image") and γράφειν.

Don DeLillo American novelist, playwright and essayist

Donald Richard DeLillo is an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter and essayist. His works have covered subjects as diverse as television, nuclear war, sports, the complexities of language, performance art, the Cold War, mathematics, the advent of the digital age, politics, economics, and global terrorism.

Media response

Through an endless reproductions in mass media and popular culture the attacks have an important cultural meaning for many people: "The attacks percolate as a central theme or historical backdrop in countless works of art, which bear witness to the complexity of 9/11 as historical, political, and media event, and contribute to the negotiation of its cultural meaning." [7] Regarding the attacks of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor Arthur G. Neal said:

Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets.

Popular culture is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs and objects that are dominant or ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Heavily influenced in lives of people in a given society. Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. However, there are various ways to define pop culture. Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts. It is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture, and also through different theoretical perspectives such as psychoanalysis, structuralism, postmodernism, and more. The most common pop-culture categories are: entertainment, sports, news, politics, fashion, technology, and slang.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

"We create the world through our perceptions of it and seek to maintain that world in a manner consistent with our beliefs about it. It is through such symbolic constructions that we are provided with usable frameworks for shaping our memories and organizing them into coherent systems of meaning." [8]

Depictions of the World Trade Center

After the September 11 attacks, some movies and TV shows deleted scenes or episodes set within the World Trade Center. [9] [10] [11] [12] For example, The Simpsons episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", which first aired in 1997, was removed from syndication after the attacks because a scene showed the World Trade Center. [13] Songs that mentioned the World Trade Center were no longer aired on radio, and the release dates of some films, such as the 2002 films Sidewalks of New York, People I Know, and Spider-Man, were delayed so producers could remove scenes that included the World Trade Center. [9] [14] The 2001 film Kissing Jessica Stein , which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival the day before the attacks, had to be modified before its general public release, so the filmmakers could delete the scenes that depicted the World Trade Center. [9]

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

"The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" is the first episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It was originally broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on September 21, 1997, as the 179th episode of the series. The episode features the Simpson family traveling to Manhattan to recover the family car, which was taken by Barney Gumble and abandoned outside the World Trade Center, where it has been repeatedly posted with parking tickets, and disabled with a parking boot.

<i>Sidewalks of New York</i> (2001 film)

Sidewalks of New York is a 2001 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Edward Burns, who also stars in the film. The plot follows eight cycles in the lives of six Manhattan residents whose inter-connections form a circle that places each of them less than the proverbial six degrees of separation from the others.

Other episodes and films mentioned the attacks directly, or depicted the World Trade Center in alternate contexts. [10] The production of some family-oriented films was also sped up due to a large demand for that genre following the attacks. Demand for horror and action films decreased, but within a short time demand returned to normal. [12] By the first anniversary of the attacks, over sixty "memorial films" had been created. [15] Filmmakers were criticized for removing scenes related to the World Trade Center. Rita Kempley of The Washington Post said "if we erase the towers from our art, we erase it[ sic ] from our memories". [16] Author Donald Langmead compared the phenomenon to the 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four , where historic mentions of events are retroactively "rectified". [17] Other filmmakers such as Michael Bay, who directed the 1998 film Armageddon , opposed retroactively removing references to the World Trade Center based on post-9/11 attitudes. [9]

Oliver Stone's film World Trade Center —the first movie that specifically examined the effects of the attacks on the World Trade Center, as contrasted with the effects elsewhere—was released in 2006. [17] Several years after the attacks, works such as "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" were placed back in syndication. The National September 11 Museum has preserved many of the works that feature depictions of the original World Trade Center. [9]

Influence on comic books

American comic books have always carried patriotic tones, especially during the Cold War—perhaps the most notable example is the character Captain America. 9/11 shifted the political climate and with it re-centered the public's attention on Muslims. Perhaps the most mainstream example of the influence 9/11 had on comic books is Iron Man, who was previously an anti-communist crusader; his canon was rewritten in comics after 9/11 and in the widely popular 2008 film Iron Man. In the film billionaire Tony Stark learns his weapons were sold without his knowledge to various terrorist groups after he was kidnapped and tortured in Afghanistan. [18]


The September 11 attacks gained an iconographic meaning. This was due to the fact that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were portrayed as symbolic buildings representing American financial power, and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia was portrayed as a symbolic building representing American military power. Backed up by the media and literature, many people see 9/11 as an attack on the economic and military power of America. [19] Furthermore, the attacks are often pictured as a symbol for an era of war and terrorism.

Jargon inspired by 9/11

Nine-eleven or 9/11
in the U.S. date notation for September 11. The practice of referring to ominous dates through this shorthand has continued, for example, with 7/7 for the 2005 London bombings. [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] Even in English-speaking countries which typically use a different date format to The U.S. "month/day/year", the event is still commonly referred to as "Nine-eleven". For example, "Nine-eleven" will tend to be used in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, despite how British people would otherwise write September 11 as "11/09".
Pre-9/11 and Post-9/11
Terms used to describe the period of time and the state of the world before and after the attack, regarding 9/11 as an epoch. They are often used to denote foreign policy and domestic security measures as they existed before or after the attacks.
Ground Zero
Ground zero is a generic term for the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation. Capitalized, it is shorthand for the World Trade Center site; used, for example, in "Ground Zero mosque", a pejorative for the Cordoba House or Park51 Islamic center.
The Bathtub
the excavated foundations of the World Trade Center. Although not a new term, it gained prominence during rescue, cleanup and ongoing reconstruction efforts. [25]
The Pile
the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center. [26] [27] [28]
A jumper is someone who commits suicide by jumping from a height. It is unclear which of the "jumpers" seen falling from the WTC had jumped and which fell while trying to climb to safety. [29] The medical examiner's office ruled homicide for all bodies, unable to distinguish jumpers from those who died inside the towers. [30] "The Falling Man" is an iconic photograph of a jumper.
"Let's roll"
reported to have been uttered by Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer shortly before he and fellow passengers apparently rushed the cockpit. [31]
the highest state of terrorist alert issued by the U.S. Armed Forces

Media slogans

Various slogans and captions were employed by media outlets to brand coverage of the September 11 terrorist attack, its after effects, and the U.S. government response. The slogans for American media were typically positioned on the bottom third of television broadcasts, or as banners across the top of newspaper pages. Designs typically incorporated a patriotic red, white, and blue motif, along with an explicit graphic of the American flag. Examples include:

U.S. government terms

See also

Related Research Articles

Rescue and recovery effort after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center Post-9/11 rescue operations

The local, state, federal and global reaction to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center was unprecedented. The equally unsurpassed events of that day elicited the largest response of local emergency and rescue personnel to assist in the evacuation of the two towers and also contributed to the largest loss of the same personnel when the towers collapsed. After the attacks, the media termed the World Trade Center site "Ground Zero", while rescue personnel referred to it as "the Pile".

World Trade Center site Grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City

The World Trade Center site, formerly referred to as "Ground Zero" or "the Pile" immediately after the September 11 attacks, is a 14.6-acre (5.9 ha) area in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The site is bounded by Vesey Street to the north, the West Side Highway to the west, Liberty Street to the south, and Church Street to the east. The Port Authority owns the site's land. The previous World Trade Center complex stood on the site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

In terms of nuclear explosions and other large bombs, the term "ground zero" describes the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation. In the case of an explosion above the ground, ground zero refers to the point on the ground directly below the nuclear detonation and is sometimes called the hypocenter.

Aftermath of the September 11 attacks

The September 11 attacks transformed the first term of President George W. Bush and led to what he has called the Global War on Terrorism. The accuracy of describing it as a "war" and its political motivations and consequences are the topic of strenuous debate. The U.S. government increased military operations, economic measures and political pressure on groups which it accused of being terrorists, as well as increasing pressure on the governments and countries which was accused of sheltering them. October 2001 saw the first military action initiated by the US. Under this policy, the NATO invaded Afghanistan in order to remove the Taliban regime and capture al-Qaeda forces.

Marriott World Trade Center architectural structure

The Marriott World Trade Center was a 22-story steel-framed hotel building with 825 rooms. It was also known as World Trade Center 3, the World Trade Center Hotel, the Vista Hotel and the Marriott Hotel. It opened in July 1981, as the Vista International Hotel and was located at 3 World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City, with the World Trade Center complex having its own zip code of 10048. The hotel was destroyed beyond repair as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, after the collapse of the Twin Towers. The hotel was not replaced as part of the new World Trade Center complex, but does share its name with the new office tower.

<i>The Falling Man</i> photograph

The Falling Man is a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:41:15 a.m. during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The subject of the image, whose identity remains uncertain, was one of the people trapped on the upper floors of the skyscraper who either fell searching for safety or jumped to escape the fire and smoke.

William Rodriguez 9/11 survivor

William Rodríguez is a former janitor at the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, attacks and was in the basement of the North Tower when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. After the attacks he received several awards for heroism for helping in the evacuation of many survivors. The Birmingham Mail said about Rodriguez: "He bravely led firefighters up the stairs, unlocking doors as they climbed and helping hundreds of survivors" and The Lancashire Telegraph added: "He then went back into the building in a bid to rescue his friends at the top of the tower, on the 106th floor. But he kept finding others who needed his help as well."

World Trade Center cross

The World Trade Center cross, also known as the Ground Zero cross, is a formation of steel beams found among the debris of the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, New York City, following the September 11 attacks in 2001. This set of beams is so named because it resembles the proportions of a Christian cross. The beams have been part of an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum since 2014.

World Trade Center in popular culture World Trade Center depicted in popular culture

The original World Trade Center, which featured the landmark Twin Towers, was a building complex in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, New York City. 1 and 2 World Trade Center–the North and South Tower–stood at 1,368 feet and 1,362 feet with 110-stories, respectively, becoming the tallest buildings in the world from 1971–1973. The North Tower, with its antenna included, was the tallest building in the world by pinnacle height until the towers were destroyed in the September 11 attacks in 2001. An iconic feature of the New York City skyline for nearly three decades, the World Trade Center has been featured in cartoons, comic books, computer games, video games, television, films, photographs, artwork and music videos.

Rudy Giuliani during the September 11 attacks

As Mayor of New York City during the September 11 attacks in 2001, Rudy Giuliani played a visible role in the response to the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center towers in New York City. For this he earned great praise at the time.

American Airlines Flight 11 9/11 hijacked passenger flight, hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center

American Airlines Flight 11 was a domestic passenger flight that was hijacked by five al-Qaeda members on September 11, 2001, as part of the September 11 attacks. Mohamed Atta deliberately crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing all 92 people aboard and an unknown number in the building's impact zone. The aircraft involved, a Boeing 767-223ER, registration N334AA, was flying American Airlines' daily scheduled morning transcontinental service from Logan International Airport in Boston to Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles.

Casualties of the September 11 attacks Wikimedia list article

During the September 11 attacks of 2001, 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured. The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on United States soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the September 11 attacks and their consequences:

The term 9/11 humor refers to jokes, whether in print or otherwise, based on the events of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) Former skyscraper complex in Manhattan, New York

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

1993 World Trade Center bombing truck bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, carried out on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,336 lb (606 kg) urea nitrate–hydrogen gas enhanced device was intended to send the North Tower crashing into the South Tower, bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people. It failed to do so but killed six people and injured over a thousand.


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