Part 1: television
One thing that is rarely looked at as far as how the world has changed after the horrible events of September 11 is how entertainment media changed. Whenever a major event or catastrophe happens, the entertainment portion of the media reacts.
Take for instance the current hit NBC show The Office. In the 2009 season, one of Michael Scott’s (played by Steve Carell) excuses for not being able to take a call is that he is at an “Obama fashion show.” This was no exception in 2001 in the days after 9/11 – albeit with a serious tone. Post-9/11 ratings for television show such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart soared. Some viewers proclaimed the show as their “bonafide news source.” Other comedy shows, such as The Late Show with David Letterman, opened with a more somber tone where a rather nervous and sad Letterman lamented to the audience about hwo the attacks “made any goddamn sense.”
Television was heavily afftected byy the attacks with a major blow producer David Angell, who was on board hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. Angell was a producer and co-creator of NBC’s Frasier. In Frasier’s final episode, Niles and Daphne have a baby and name their son David as a tribute to Angell.
Other television shows inevitably had to write in plots dealing with terrorism and grief. Shows such as The West Wing aired non-story arch episodes that dealt with the attacks. The West Wing episode Issac and Ishmael opened with a plea from the cast to donate to charities for those that were lost in the 9/11 attacks. Other shows, such as NBC’s Third Watch, directly dealt with the attacks by including them into their storylines. The start of the fall season of television for new shows was delayed or it had to be altered due to the show’s content.
Other mainstay shows had to quickly pull episodes that dealt with some form of terrorism. Reruns of certain episodes of shows such as Married……..With Children and The Simpsons were pulled from syndication. The Simpsons episode The City of New York vs. Homer, there are scenes that prominently display the World Trade Center. After the events of September 11, many thought that, despite the relative innocence of the scenes in question, that viewers might have been too sensitive to seeing images of the building intact (even in cartoon form), with the events of that day still fresh on the minds of the people. This episode has since been put back into syndication as time has passed. The episode in question in regards to Married…..With Children was the episode Get Outta Dodge where Al Bundy is approached by some Arabs who want to buy his old Dodge car and also ask Bundy for directions.
After September 11, 2oo1, FOX notified all of its syndicated carriers of the show about the episode in question and left the decision up to the discretion of the individual stations. A number of TV stations in the US did temporarily pull the episode and showed other reruns in its place. As time passed and sensitivity lessened, the episode began being aired again regularly.
Awards shows were also affected. The 2001 Emmy Awards were postponed twice due to the terrorist attacks, the then-impending US airstrikes against Afghanistan and the bakckout of Don Mischner Productions – who was producing the show. The telecast finally aired on November 4, but cost CBS millions of dollars. The 74th Annual Academy Awards held a tribute to New York-themed films hosted by Woody Allen.