Hollywood says goodbye to terrorism

In a year that produced The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense, the scariest movie title went to Arlington Road. While 1999 proved successful for the more traditional horror genre films, they didn?t scare like the realistic portrayal of terrorism.

Arlington Road presented a theory that while only one man is always blamed for a particular terrorist act ? Timothy McVeigh is used as an example ? the acts are actually planned and executed by an army of terrorists who pose as ?average Joe? Americans.

?If you take one of us out, there will be another lined up to take our place,? one of the American terrorists said. ?You can?t stop it.?

In the film, the target is the FBI headquarters building, and the act succeeds. The film ends with the media and the American government set on pinning it on one man.

While that was only a movie, it served its purpose by giving moviegoers the heebie-jeebies.

However, no Hollywood film could do the damage the American people witnessed on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

Terrorism came closer to home than ever before. It hit harder and deeper than anyone could ever imagine. Not just one plane went down in Pennsylvania and killed more than 30 people. That would have been the biggest story of any year. But four planes were hijacked, with two landing smack in the middle of the World Trade Center buildings and one into the Pentagon.

No Hollywood script could portray that before Tuesday because no one would believe it. People believed the threat of martial law being implemented in New York City in 1998?s The Siege. That movie actually pinpointed Muslims as the culprits of terrorist acts.

Tuesday?s attacks were not even plausible by Hollywood standards, as low as they are.

Yet we were glued to the tube.

Audiences have always seemed to flock to movies with plots involving hijackings and terror.

Swordfish is the latest example of blow-?em-up action used as an excuse for a script. The Die Hard franchise was enormously successful.

However, the successes of these films may be a reflection of people?s willingness to escape when the acts portrayed on screen were still unthinkable and fictional.

After Tuesday ? good luck, Hollywood.

Arnold Schwarzenegger?s new terrorist flick Collateral Damage has already been shelved indefinitely.

The new Spider-Man movie to be released summer 2002 has been edited because there was a crucial scene where a spider web woven between the Twin Towers captures a helicopter filled with bad guys. While that was actually the scene shown in the teaser trailer, audiences would have a hard time swallowing that. Now rumors are flying that it may not be released because it takes place in New York.

Terrorism is no longer the distant event that happens in other countries, with the rare case of Oklahoma City. What happened on 9-11 was catastrophic. Movies have long used terrorism as a bankable plot line. That will change.

The problem this time is it?s not being blamed on one person so we can sleep at night ? until the next one occurs. We may not sleep for a while, but our government is making sure when we do rest our eyes comfortably ? it will be a long time.

In the meantime, we will have to find entertainment at the multiplex that doesn?t include blowing up buildings.

William Albritton is a senior majoring in mass communications and is The Oracle movies editor. Contact him at oraclewill@yahoo.com