Maybe the Sky is Really Green, and We’re Just Colourblind:
On Zapping, Close Encounters and the Commercial Break



Prep Unit, Tea Partay, 2006

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2001: The Unknown Unknowns 68


Then ET returned with a new face. If anything, on that fateful morning of 11 September 2001, Hollywood's imagination came back to haunt America's political unconscious: symptom (flying saucers beaming out of nowhere) met with reality (the dark underside of repressed world politics striking back at the symbolic centre of its economic power).69 But this time there was no Hollywood redemption. Zapping became useless as all channels were beaming the very same images of the collapsing "Towering Infernos", over and over again. No longer did the media have to keep up with reality, but rather reality was now keeping up with the media.

Directly after the attacks, the alien morphed into the "Arab terrorist" while politics spun a web of lies to sell war in the name of democracy. Hollywood, on the other hand, felt implicated in the acts of 9/11. "Within days, studios were re-calling, re-cutting, and cancelling movies."70 Symbolic of this twist of events, at the behest of the US Army in October 2002, government intelligence specialists met with top Hollywood filmmakers and writers at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. Their mission: to imagine possible terrorist scenarios. Finally, the story of The War of the Worlds had come full circle. The new disaster movie was re-imagining the 9/11 event, Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005) deliberately evoking the collective trauma.