BootLeg Betty

Celebrities Can Bring A Sense Of Solace In Times Of Need

The Maine Campus
Hollywood elite bring post 9/11 hope
By Derrick Rossignol
September 11, 2011


For most Americans, the Sept. 11 attacks instilled fear — fear that the United States perhaps was not the safe haven they thought it was, impervious to anything the world could throw at it.

Like the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, everybody who was alive remembers where they were when it happened. Emotions were not isolated to the areas surrounding the incident — the sting was felt nationwide.

In a time of such despair, the thing Americans needed most was hope. Americans needed somebody to hold them and say, “Everything is going to be all right.”

Celebrities have long been a primary source of solace to the public, whether it be in the form of entertainment, encouragement or motivation. In the time following the attacks, people needed somebody with authority and notoriety to reassure them.

Major figures in pop culture got together and put on various events to return optimism to the American outlook.

Ten days after the attack, the four major U.S. television networks aired “America: A Tribute To Heroes,” a benefit concert organized by producer Joel Gallen and actor George Clooney.

The program was a telethon that featured inspirational performances by 21 musical artists, including noted philanthropists U2, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Neil Young, among others.

As a fundraiser, the show was a huge success that raised over $200 million for the United Way’s Sept. 11 Telethon Fund.

About a month later, VH1 broadcasted a tribute of its own, “The Concert for New York City,” organized by Paul McCartney. With performances and appearances by McCartney, Adam Sandler, Jay-Z, Bon Jovi and Will Ferrell, the aim of the show was to honor the New York Fire and Police Departments, along with those who perished in the attacks.

Along with “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” the concert was named one of the 50 moments that changed rock ‘n’ roll by Rolling Stone magazine.

A similar third benefit event, “United We Stand: What More Can I Give,” was broadcast on ABC the day after “The Concert for New York City.” A mix of classic and contemporary performers took part, including James Brown, Bette Midler, the Goo Goo Dolls and Michael Jackson.

In the years following the tragedy, multiple movies and documentaries were made about 9/11 and the events that followed.

In 2004, documentary filmmaker and controversy magnet Michael Moore released his most successful project to date, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The film focuses on the shortcomings of George W. Bush’s presidency and the War on Terror.

He critically analyzes the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which stemmed from the Sept. 11 attacks. The film earned $220 million worldwide, a record for a documentary. Whether or not they agreed with Moore’s stances, Americans were given a new perspective about the attacks and the War on Terror.

On the attack’s 10th anniversary, there are no memorial concerts or fundraisers — that is more of a right-after-the-fact thing. That’s not to say, of course, that there is a lack of tributes.

The NFL’s New York Giants and Washington Redskins had a ceremony before their game on Sunday afternoon to honor the 10th anniversary of 9/11. During the national anthem, 150 family members of those lost in the attacks held a giant American flag on the field in a touching display.

In addition, every NFL team that was active on Sunday sported a stars-and-stripes patch that had the dates “9/11/01” and “9/11/11” on them.

Things like these that illustrate the amount of people this American tragedy impacted. Everybody from athletes to actors to musicians are taking or have taken part in something to commemorate the event.

This united front of people from different lines of work shows that while the attacks were a tragedy, they united and helped strengthened us as a country.

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