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List of Cultural References to the September 11 Attacks
A Garden Stepping into the Sky (2002-03) by Ron Drummond is a design for a World Trade Center Memorial built out of the "clay" of functional interior space suitable for commercial, cultural, or residential uses. Praised by New York novelist and critic Samuel R. Delany and architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, Drummond's design was the focus of a documentary by the award-winning independent filmmaker Gregg Lachow and was featured on CNN and KOMO-TV News.
9/11 Flipbook (2005-present) by Scott Blake allows viewers to watch a continuous reenactment of United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Accompanying the images are essays written by a wide range of participants, each expressing their personal experience of the September 11 attacks. In addition, the essays' authors posted their responses to the request that they reflect on, and respond to, the flipbook itself.
Save Manhattan, a series of works by the Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi. Three Installations show Manhattan as if the attacks did not take place, and a light is projected to create a sharply defined shadow of the pre-9/11 skyline of the city. Save Manhattan 1 is made with books, Save Manhattan with videotapes and Save Manhattan 3 is a sound installation with speakers. In the Save Manhattan Video, the skyline progressively dissolves and becomes the memory and the ghost of something that was but that is not anymore.
The Hungarian composer Robert Gulya, who was living in the United States from 2000 to 2002, started to work on a guitar concerto in autumn 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks. Gulya chose a theme for the concerto's first movement, which reminds of the terror attacks. The world premiere of this concerto was filmed and released on the DVD Live in Budapest by the Austria guitarist Johanna Beisteiner.
11'09"01 September 11 (2002), an international anthology film composed of contributions from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, and the USA, each exploring reactions to 9/11.
Video, television, and theatrical release: documentaries
Airborne, a 2012 independent film about a hijacked airliner. The film introduces its story by pretending since 9/11 there would be a so-called "Firelight Protocol" which had been "designed to protect those on the ground".
A Broken Sole, a trilogy of 2007 American short films that use 9/11 as a backdrop.
Video, television, and theatrical release: documentaries
Arabs and Terrorism (2007), an American documentary in six languages, filmed in 11 countries, comprising 120 interviews with "experts/politicians and hundreds of street interviews in the United States, Europe, and the Arab world."
Brick Lane, a 2007 British film tells the story of Nazneen, a Bengali who grew up in Bangladesh. It follows her experiences after she moves to London before, during, and after 9/11.
Hope and a Little Sugar, a 2006 Indian film that explores the impact of the post 9/11 atmosphere on a Sikh family and their Muslim friend.
I Am Singh, a 2011 Bollywood film about the murder of Ranveer Singh's younger brother (who was living in the United States when it happened) as a result of the post 9/11 climate.
Just Your Average Arab, a 2006 American film in which "Arab-American characters meet in the storage room of a convenience store where they take an 'Arab American Survival Guide post 9/11' class."
Khuda Kay Liye, a 2007 Pakistani film that tells the story of three Pakistanis and their lives before and after 9/11 in regards to the after-effects to Muslim Americans from the 9/11 reactions.
Kurbaan, a 2009 Bollywood film that tells the story of Avantika Ahuja and Ehsaan Khan in India and the United States Post-9/11.
Madhoshi, a 2004 Bollywood film that is about Anupama Kaul whose sister is killed during 9/11.
My Name Is Khan, a 2010 Bollywood film that is a Bildungsroman of the life of Rizwan Khan. It begins with his childhood in Mumbai and progresses to his later years living in the United States before, during and after the events of 9/11 in regards to the after-effects to Muslim Americans from the 9/11 reactions
New York, a 2009 Bollywood film that tells the story of Samir, Maya, and Omar. They are three New York college students whose lives are changed by 9/11 and its aftermath.
Tere Bin Laden, a 2010 Bollywood film that is a comedy about journalist Ali Hassan living in Pakistan. Due to his desperation to migrate to the U.S., he makes a fake Osama Bin Laden video using a look-alike, and sells it to TV channels.
Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota, a 2006 Bollywood film that tells the story of a group of people from India who were aboard the ill-fated flights that crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon on 9/11.
Literature and poetry
Fiction and non-fiction
"The Caribou Herd" (2003) by Miles Hitchcock won The Age Short Story Award in 2003. The narrator is an elderly English man with dementia, flying to New York on the day of the attacks and reminiscing about the 20th Century.
Dead Air (2002) by Iain Banks. An early chapter is set in London on September 11, 2001. The main protagonist is a left-wing radio "shock jock" attending a wedding when news of the attacks filters through (Tuesday afternoon British time).
Eleven (2006) by David Llewellyn. The novel takes place in Cardiff and London on September 11th and deals with the impact the terrorist attacks have on the lives of people in the UK.
When God Was a Rabbit (2011) by Sarah Winman. The protagonist and her brother are living in America at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and the main character believes her brother and his best friend have died in the crash.
Windows on the World (2003) by Frédéric Beigbeder. The novel is set in the restaurant at the top of the North Tower on September 11. It tells the story of Carthew Yorston and his two sons as they try to escape or somehow survive the attack. Each chapter of the book represents one minute in time between 8:30 and 10:30 on 9/11. It also features a parallel narrative wherein the author, a French writer sympathetic to America, discusses the process of writing the book and his motivations for doing so.
American Widow (2008) by Alissa Torres. A graphic novel by Alissa Torres, who was eight months pregnant when her husband Eddie Torres perished in the WTC on 9/11.
American Doll (2016) by James Lawless. Fearing terrorism in the wake of 9/11, a father sends his daughter to university in Ireland, however even there she can't hide from the damage that the attacks have caused to her family.
Bittersweet Symphony (2017) by Rebecca McNutt. This Canadian novella features a lawyer, Bailey Lawrence Kane, who lost her boss in the September 11th Attacks. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, she becomes increasingly unhinged, to the point where she murders a client of hers who committed a heinous act against a child. She refers to herself and her dead boss as "collateral damage", and has (unintentionally) renounced her own name; her colleagues just refer to her as "lawyer".
The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah (2004) by Stephen King. Two characters place an artifact known as Black Thirteen in a coin-op storage unit in the World Trade Center in 1999, intending to leave it there forever. After leaving, they half-jokingly discuss what would happen if the towers were to collapse on the object.
A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (2006), by Ken Kalfus. The novel follows the lives of New Yorkers Joyce and Marshall Harriman who are in the middle of a nasty divorce. In the early morning hours of September 11, Marshall leaves for the World Trade Center and Joyce for the airport.
Everyman (2006), by Philip Roth. The protagonist of the novel moves to the New Jersey shore as a result of the fear he feels in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) by Jonathan Safran Foer. The novel follows the narrator, 9-year-old Oskar Schell, whose father was on the upper floors of the World Trade Center when the jets crashed into the Twin Towers. To fight his grief and quell his imagination, Oskar embarks on a quest to find what he hopes is his father's most illuminating secret. In service of this quest, Oskar conquers many of his irrational fears and comforts other damaged souls.
Forever (2003) by Pete Hamill. The novel tells the story of an Irish immigrant who is granted immortality, provided that he never leaves the island of Manhattan. Hamill completed his manuscript at 11:20 pm on the evening of September 10, 2001; he was about to deliver it to his editor when the attacks occurred. He spent another year revising the book. As a result, the 9/11 attacks form the culmination of 250 years of New York history described in the novel.
Home Boy (2009) by H. M. Naqvi. The novel tells the story of three Pakistani college students, AC, Jimbo and Chuck, before and after 9/11.
"In Spirit", a science fiction novella by Pat Forde, published in Analog in September 2002 and nominated for a Hugo Award. A time travel story in which a form of "spiritual" time travel is perfected in the middle of the 21st century and the aged children of 9/11 victims are given the opportunity to go back in time and be with their loved ones "in spirit" in their final moments.
Last Night in Twisted River (2009) by John Irving. Portions of the end of the novel take place on September 10 and 11, 2001, and deal with several characters' reactions to learning about the attacks.
"Let the Great World Spin" (2009) by Colum McCann. The novel focuses on Philippe Petit's 1974 tightrope crossing of the Twin Towers, and the effects it has on New Yorkers in 1974. At the end, the novel jumps to 2005, in which one of the character's daughters deals with living in a post-9/11 world, connecting the destruction of the towers to Petit's 1974 walk.
The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up (2012) by Jacob Appel. The novel depicts the life of fictional botanist Arnold Brinkman, a New Yorker falsely branded a terrorist-sympathizer in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Small Wonder, a collection of 23 essays on environmentalism and social justice by novelist and biologist Barbara Kingsolver, published in 2002 and written in response to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
The Submission (2011) by Amy Waldman. The novel is about an American Muslim architect Mohammed Khan whose design is chosen for the memorial site at Ground Zero.
?The Suffering Channel? (2004) is a novella by David Foster Wallace in Oblivion: Stories. Set in July 2001, its central protagonist, Skip Atwater, is a journalist who works for the fictional Style Magazine, which is located in the World Trade Center. Atwater is attempting to write an article about a midwestern artist, Brint Moltke (whose excrement reportedly resembles famous cultural objects) for the September 10, 2001 issue of Style.
Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory (2003) by N. M. Kelby. The novel centers on two women, a mother and daughter. Both of them are physicists - and both of them have dizzying gaps in their memories of their pasts.
United States of Banana (AmazonCrossing 2011) by Giannina Braschi is a dramatic novel in which the collapse of the Twin Towers marks the fall of the American empire on September 11, 2001.
United We Stand (2009) a novel that focuses on the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Villa Incognito (2003) by Tom Robbins. The novel features several scenes of Military and CIA officials reacting to news of the attacks.
We All Fall Down (2006) by Eric Walters. September 11, 2001 was "Bring Your Kids to Work Day", and the main protagonist, Will was going to meet with his father in his office in the World Trade Center. This novel focuses on how Will and his relationship with his father changes on the day of the 9/11 attacks.
The Zero (2006) by Jess Walter is a novel about Brian Remy, a New York City cop suffering memory gaps in the wake of 9/11.
Anything Can Happen (2004) by Seamus Heaney (a loose translation of Horace's Ode 1.34) is a response to the attacks.
Becker (1998-2004) - In the episode "Subway Story", Becker skips dinner with an old friend because he accompanies the mother of a 9/11 victim to Ground Zero.
Bones (2005-present) - In the episode "The Patriot in Purgatory", the team investigates the death of a homeless veteran who died following the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
Criminal Minds (2005-present) - 9/11 is mentioned occasionally throughout the show. Main character Kate Callahan also lost her sister and brother-in-law to the attacks; they were employees in the Pentagon.
CSI: NY (2004-2013) - the character Mac Taylor (played by Gary Sinise) lost his wife Claire, who was working in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks.
Family Guy (1999-2003; 2005-present) - These episodes are an example for 9/11 humor, though it may also be a reference to the fact that the show's creator Seth MacFarlane nearly became a victim of the attacks since he was originally scheduled to board one of the planes, but a hangover caused him to oversleep.
In a deleted scene from "Meet the Quagmires", when Brian and Peter Griffin go back in time, Brian gets into a fight, and instructs the bar patron to meet on top of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
In the episode "Baby Not on Board", the family stops at Ground Zero at their way to the Grand Canyon to pay their respects. Peter remarks "Ground Zero, so this is where the first guy got AIDS". Brian corrects Peter telling him it was the site of the 9/11 attacks. Then, Peter believes Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) had something to do with the attacks, but those were untrue.
In the episode "Back to the Woods", Peter attempts to get revenge on actor James Woods by going on The Late Show with David Letterman and, pretending to be Woods, tells the world that he is starring in an HBO comedy putting a positive light on 9/11, called September 11th 2000-FUN!, about a window washer who has just finished cleaning the last window of the twin towers; when he turns to get off the scaffolding he sees an airplane and screams "Oh come on!" Peter then makes several evil 9/11 remarks to add to his speech and claims that the plane will be voiced by comedian, David Spade which angered the real James Woods who said he would never work with Spade.
In the straight-to-DVD never-shown-on-television episode "Partial Terms of Endearment", a special feature shows a storyboarded scene that was never made part of the episode; in the scene, Peter attempts to kill Lois's unborn fetus by using boxing gloves attached to remote-controlled planes. Two of these glove-planes end up demolishing two sand towers that Stewie is building, causing him to exclaim "This is no accident; we're under attack!", and a third glove-plane is shown to land in a part of the yard labeled 'Shanksville'; all of this is a clear parody of the events of 9/11.
Fringe (2008-2013) - The show repeatedly references the 9/11 attacks, and depicts an alternate reality where the White House was destroyed, but the World Trade Centre was left standing.
Homeland (2011-present) - The show centers on the characters of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a bipolar Central Intelligence Agency officer, and Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a homecoming U.S. Marine. Mathison has come to believe that Brody, who was held captive by al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war, was "turned" by the enemy and now supposedly poses a serious threat to the security of the United States. The series' first season in particular plays with the steadily-shifting equilibrium of not-knowing who-is-who and thrillingly depicts the aftermath of 9/11 as a national trauma and the fragile state the nation's collective mind has been left with.
Law & Order (1990-2010) - 9/11 is frequently referenced from season 12 (2001-2002) to the end of the series. The season 13 episode "The Ring" depicts the murder investigation of a woman who was reported killed in the World Trade Center but is found a year later buried in a vacant lot in Hell's Kitchen. It is later determined that some of her remains were dumped in the rubble of the twin towers to hide the fact that she was killed the night before.
The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2009) - In the episode The City of Frownsville has everybody crying after Lou set his sadness ray to whole city. The running for their lives was based on when the towers collapsed. The episode ends with a memorial card to remember the citizens of Manhattan who lost their lives after the destruction of the World Trade Centre of Manhattan NY.
Reading Rainbow (1983-present) - The episode The Tin-Forest has host Levar Burton talking about how Manhattan is doing. He explains that some areas there are not typical; near him is a construction area known as Ground Zero, which used to be the World Trade Center twin towers, and explains to the kids that building no longer exist because two planes crashed into the twin-towers and it was a dangerous and frightening day.
Rescue Me (2004-2011) - A television series about the professional and personal lives of a group of firefighters in the fictional Ladder 62 / Engine 99 firehouse in New York City, post 9/11. Flashbacks of 9/11 are prominent throughout the series.
Robot Chicken (2005-present) - On the episode "Cheese Puff Mountain", in a PAW Patrol segment, the 2 treehouses were destroyed by a cat piloting a helicopter which is a reference to the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the killing of the cat references to the death of Osama Bin Laden and being disposed in the ocean.
The Sarah Silverman Program (2007-2010) - In the episode "Patriot Tact" (a pun of the Patriot Act), after Sarah is criticized for running over men with her car which she mistakes for Osama bin Laden, she tries to raise awareness for 9/11 by putting on a play where her neighbors Brian and Steve dress up as the towers of the World Trade Center.
Sesame Street (1969-present) has the fire at Hooper's Store. It scared Elmo. He did not want to go back to Hooper's Store. After visiting the fire station, He felt better and remarks Elmo used to be scared, But Elmo isn't scared anymore. And the firefighters explains that's their job. They fight with fire. The episode ends with a memorial card to the citizens of Manhattan NY who lives were lost after the 9/11 attack.
Skins (2007-2013)- In the Season 2 episode "Sketch" a group of High School students perform in a musical called "Osama:The Musical " about two lovers who meet during the September 11th attacks.
Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-05) - In the Season 4 episode "Stormfront, Part 2", images of the World Trade Center Towers burning can be seen in the 'time stream' while Captain Archer and Crewman Daniels are talking about the Temporal Cold War and how history is restoring itself.
Third Watch (1999-2005) was a series about first responders in New York City. The events of 9/11 dominated much of its 2001-2002 season, which began with an episode entitled "In Their Own Words" which broke the fourth wall and featured real-life first responders discussing 9/11. The first two scripted episodes of the season were also directly tied to the event, with the first set the day before 9/11 and the second some 10 days after.
Touch (2012-13) was series about a former reporter, Martin Bohm, and his mute 11-year-old son who communicates through numbers. In the pilot episode, Martin is still struggling to cope with the death of his wife, who was killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11. He later learns of a firefighter who tried to save her, who is still struggling with her death as well.
The West Wing (1999-2006), about a fictional US presidential administration, was one of the first scripted TV series to respond to the attacks with a special standalone (and, according to statements made by the cast introducing it, non-continuity) episode "Isaac and Ishmael" featuring the aftermath of a similar attack. It was written and filmed within two weeks of the real-life attack.
The Wire (2002-08) -- In the pilot episode of the series, Detective Jimmy McNulty visits a friend of his who is an agent in the FBI, Terrence "Fitz" Fitzhugh, with the intention of seeing if the FBI can assist him in his investigation of the Barksdale drug ring. Fitzhugh, however, informs him that the FBI is ending most of its drug investigations, diverting those resources to anti-terrorist activity in the wake of 9/11.
The Domestic Crusaders (2005) by Wajahat Ali. The play is about a Pakistani-American Muslim family grappling with their own internal trials and tribulations, the changing dynamics of American society and a globalized, post-9/11 world.
The Guys (2001) by Anne Nelson. The play explores the memories and emotions of a surviving fire captain and a writer who helps him write eulogies for his lost comrades.
The Mercy Seat (2002) by Neil LaBute. The play is about a protagonist who considers faking his death after having coincidentally survived the attacks.
Recent Tragic Events (2003) by Craig Wright. The play takes place on September 12, 2001, and deals with a blind date between a man and a woman who is trying to reach her sister, who lives in New York.
Bystander 9/11: A Theatre Piece Concerning the Events of September 11, 2001 (2001) by Meron Langsner. An impressionistic but wholly authentic response to the catastrophe as it unfolded and in the days following. This play is included in The Methuen Drama Anthology of Testimonial Plays.
Good Morning Gitmo (2014) by Mishu Hilmy and Eric Simon is a one-act dark comedy. The play takes pace decades into the future, where the warden creates a deranged morning talk show for the staff and detainees stuck on Camp Delta. The play devolves when actual visitors from the mainland arrive.
For literary re-interpretations of the 9/11-incident, one may access Pinaki Roy's "Rereading Walt Whitman's Construction of American Identity in Post-9/11 Milieu", in Different Americas: Resituating American Identity in the Post-9/11 Third Worldian Classroom (eds. Purakayastha, A.S., M. Alam, and D. Chakraborty), New Delhi: Authors Press, 2014 (ISBN978-81-7273-751-1), pp. 81-92.