9/11, the Teletubbies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A couple of days after 9/11 I sat around wishing I was stoned and watching LaLa, Dipsy, Tinky-Winky and Po as they hauled their fat, multicolored butts through the rabbits and the flowers and rolled around on the grass while the baby sun giggled. Wishing I was stoned even though I hate drugs. Wishing I was drunk even though I hate alcohol. I wished I was stoned or drunk and could watch the Teletubbies and forget. I didn't want to see those murders on TV anymore, murder by airliner. What was wrong with those people? Hadn't they heard of guns?
I didn't want to see it again. Except that I was obsessed with it.
The terrorist attack seemed like a horrific movie and I kept waiting for it to end but they kept rerunning it 24/7 on almost every channel.
The worst part was the people who jumped or fell. I would close my eyes and turn my head away when they showed them on TV. I couldn't bear to watch. Watching the buildings fall, that wasn't too bad…you couldn't see any people and I didn't let myself imagine them. But the tapes of people falling, that long, long fall…no imagination needed. You know, when someone falls like that, when they finally hit, they kind of…explode, blood and body parts and bones scattered around them. I see them falling and think of …that.
They say that a man and a woman jumped together and held hands on the way down. I never saw any pictures but I wondered about them a lot. Did they know each other before that moment? Were they lovers, spouses, friends? Or were they strangers clinging for comfort in the last moments of their lives. Did they have other lovers or spouses who looked at pictures of their freefall, recognized them and saw that jump as evidence of a betrayal? Were they jealous of that final closeness? Or relieved that their loved one had a hand to hold onto.
Thank God, they stopped showing those tapes. Except we still see them. They're seared into our brains.
And the calls from those about to die. You know how if a loved one is killed people always say they wish they could have talked to them one more time, told them that they loved them? It turns out the victims want that too. People in the towers, in the planes, trapped, knowing they were soon to die, they got on their mobile phones and called the people they loved to say goodbye. To reach out and touch one more time. Before mobile phones who knew? Before mobile phones we might have guessed they were too concerned with survival to think of their families, their lovers, but no. They too wanted that final closure, they wanted to say "I love you" one last time before they leapt into the eternal dark.
So I watched the Teletubbies and tried to mellow out. No one ever dies on the Teletubbies. No one ever gets hurt. The bunnies munch on the grass and the Teletubbies munch on Teletubbie pudding and they giggle a lot and act shy and silly. It's totally sweet and completely boring. Probably a lot like heaven.
I watched Teletubbies then after about a month I got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No terrorists on Buffy. No airplanes. Barely any cars. My flight into fantasy was a flight from reality but reality had had its chance and now I rejected it. In addition to Season 6 on UPN, F/X was showing reruns of previous seasons, two a day, 5 days a week, plus there were single episodes on Saturday (Fox) and Sunday (UPN). So, over the course of a couple of months, I watched every episode of Buffy ever made. It was like watching an enormous miniseries and never once in any episode did a plane fly into a building killing thousands. Ya gotta love that. There was a threatened apocalypse from time to time, but Buffy and her friends were always able to avert it. On Buffy love, courage and sacrifice make a difference. They hold back the dark instead of being crushed by it. Also Buffy was more popular than Bush. At least online. "Buffy" gets about twice as many hits on Google as "George W. Bush" does. Just what I wanted. And there was the great and surprisingly explicit love affair between Slayer Buffy and Vampire Spike. Talk about star-crossed lovers. And the actor who plays Spike is fantastic. It was all a great distraction. And there were many, many sites that discussed BtVS (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in deeply intellectual and totally trivial detail. Like Spike and Courtly Love or Origins and Metaphors Relating to Reinvention of Self, Parts I & II or Spike's Redemption-Subverting or Supporting Canon?, even wrote some myself, Investing in Spuffy, and Taming Spike. But now reality is creeping even into the analysis of BtVS or Buffy metaphors are being dragged into more serious works. Such as BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AND THE "BUFFY PARADIGM" or Slaying Terrorism. It's starting to depress me. No more hiding place.
Now I'm back to reading Buzzflash.com and getting more depressed about the condition of the world. Jeez. Reality. You can keep it.