Cultural influence of 9/11

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The cultural influence of 9/11, the September 11 attacks, has been profound and long-lasting. The impact of 9/11 has extended beyond geopolitics into society and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance, and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of American flags.[1] The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists, and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative or thematic elements in film, television, music and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns.[2] 9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite lack of support from expert scientists, engineers, and historians.[3] 9/11 has also had a major impact on the religious faith of many individuals; for some it strengthened, to find consolation to cope with the loss of loved ones and overcome their grief; others started to question their faith or lost it entirely, because they could not reconcile it with their view of religion.[4][5]

The culture of America succeeding the attacks is noted for heightened security and an increased demand thereof, as well as paranoia and anxiety regarding future terrorist attacks that includes most of the nation. Psychologists have also confirmed that there has been an increased amount of national anxiety in commercial air travel.[6]

Due to the significance of the attacks, media coverage was extensive, including disturbing live pictures, and prolonged discourse about the attacks in general, resulting in iconography and greater meaning associated with the event. Don DeLillo called it "the defining event of our time".[citation needed] The attacks spawned a number of catchphrases, terms, and slogans, many of which continue to be used more than a decade later.

Media response[edit]

Through an endless reproductions in mass media and popular culture the attacks have an important cultural meaning for many people: "The attacks percolate as a central theme or historical backdrop in countless works of art, which bear witness to the complexity of 9/11 as historical, political, and media event, and contribute to the negotiation of its cultural meaning." [7] Regarding the attacks of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor Arthur G. Neal said:

"[W]e create the world through our perceptions of it and seek to maintain that world in a manner consistent with our beliefs about it. It is through such symbolic constructions that we are provided with usable frameworks for shaping our memories and organizing them into coherent systems of meaning."[8]


The September 11 attacks gained an iconographic meaning. This was due to the fact that the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were portrayed as symbolic buildings representing American financial power, and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia was portrayed as a symbolic building representing American military power. Backed up by the media and literature, many people see 9/11 as an attack on the economic and military power of America.[9] Furthermore, the attacks are often pictured as a symbol for an era of war and terrorism.

Jargon inspired by 9/11[edit]

Nine-eleven or 9/11
in the U.S. date notation for September 11. The practice of referring to ominous dates through this shorthand has continued, for example, with 7/7 for the 2005 London bombings.[10][11][12][13][14] Even in English-speaking countries which typically use a different date format to The U.S. "month/day/year", the event is still commonly referred to as "Nine-eleven". For example, "Nine-eleven" will tend to be used in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, despite how British people (like most nationalities) would otherwise write September 11th as "11/09".
Pre-9/11 and Post-9/11
Terms used to describe the period of time and the state of the world before and after the attack, regarding 9/11 as an epoch. They are often used to denote foreign policy and domestic security measures as they existed before or after the attacks.
Ground Zero
Ground zero is a generic term for the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation. Capitalized, it is shorthand for the World Trade Center site; used, for example, in "Ground Zero mosque", a pejorative for the Cordoba House or Park51 Islamic center.
The Bathtub
the excavated foundations of the World Trade Center. Although not a new term, it gained prominence during rescue, cleanup and ongoing reconstruction efforts.[15]
The Pile
the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center.[16][17][18]
A jumper is someone who commits suicide by jumping from a height. It is unclear which of the "jumpers" seen falling from the WTC had jumped and which fell while trying to climb to safety.[19] The medical examiner's office ruled homicide for all bodies, unable to distinguish jumpers from those who died inside the towers.[20] "The Falling Man" is an iconic photograph of a jumper.
"Let's roll"
reported to have been uttered by Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer shortly before he and fellow passengers apparently rushed the cockpit.[21]
the highest state of terrorist alert issued by the U.S. Armed Forces

Media slogans[edit]

Various slogans and captions were employed by media outlets to brand coverage of the September 11th terrorist attack, its after effects, and the U.S. government response. The slogans for American media were typically positioned on the bottom third of television broadcasts, or as banners across the top of newspaper pages. Designs typically incorporated a patriotic red, white, and blue motif, along with an explicit graphic of the American flag. Examples include:

  • "America Attacked", "A Nation United" (ABC)
  • "Attack on America" (NBC)
  • "A Nation Challenged", "Day of Terror", "Portraits of Grief" (The New York Times)
  • "America's New War", "War Against Terror", "America under Attack" (CNN)
  • "War on Terror" (Fox News)
  • "America on Alert", "America under Attack" (MSNBC)
  • "The Second Pearl Harbor" (Honolulu Advertiser)
  • "War on America" (The Daily Telegraph)

U.S. government terms[edit]

  • War on Terrorism (also Global War on Terror) refers to the political response from the U.S. Government to the attacks of 9/11 and includes the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the color-coded national threat condition reporting system, the Patriot Act, and the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.[22]
  • Enduring Freedom – name for U.S.-led military response in Afghanistan, Philippines, Horn of Africa, and Trans Sahara.
  • Infinite Justice – original name for U.S.-led military response, dropped after religious overtones were pointed out by a reporter at a press briefing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bernardo J. Carducci (February 20, 2009). The Psychology of Personality: Viewpoints, Research, and Applications. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-1-4051-3635-8. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  2. ^ Quay, Sara; Damico, Amy (September 14, 2010). September 11 in Popular Culture: A Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-35505-9. 
  3. ^ Norman, Joshua (September 11, 2011). "9/11 conspiracy theories won't stop". CBS News. CBS Corporation. 
  4. ^ Huffington Post (August 29, 2011). "After 9/11, Some Run Toward Faith, Some Run The Other Way". Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  5. ^ PBS Frontline. "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero – The Question of God". Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  6. ^ Brad Schmidt, Ph.d. "Anxiety After 9/11". Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  7. ^ Bauder-Begerow, Irina; Stefanie Schäfer. "Learning 9/11." Learning 9/11. Ed. Bauder-Begerow, Irina; Stefanie Schäfer. Memmingen: Winter Verlag, 2011. ISBN 978-3-8253-5941-6
  8. ^ Neal, Arthur G. National Trauma and Collective Memory: Extraordinary Events in the American Experience. M.E. Sharpe: London, 2005. ISBN 978-0765615824
  9. ^ Hartwig, Marcel. Die Traumatisierte Nation?. Transcript Verlag: Bielefeld, 2011. ISBN 978-3-8376-1742-9
  10. ^ "nine-eleven - Bing Images". 
  11. ^ "Nine Eleven". 
  12. ^ "" Check |url= value (help). 
  13. ^ "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States". 
  14. ^ The Guardian. London. 1 September 2011  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Andrew Tarantola. "How New York City Built a Massive $3.8 Billion Underground Transit Station in the WTC's Footprints". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. 
  16. ^ ABC News. "The Pit and The Pile: Ground Zero Is Gone". ABC News. 
  17. ^ Safire, William (11 November 2001). "The Way We Live Now: 11-11-01: On Language; Ground Zero". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ "Ex-NYPD officers remember "the pile"". PoliceOne. 
  19. ^ Leonard, Tom (11 September 2011). "9/11 jumpers: America wants to forget victims who fell from Twin Towers". Mail Online. London. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Cauchon, Dennis; Martha Moore (2 September 2002). "Desperation forced a horrific decision". USA Today. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  21. ^ Let's roll (Note: Wikipedia is not ordinarily used as a reference; however this article is well-referenced and its references support the statement here.)
  22. ^ Eric Schmitt; Thom Shanker (26 July 2005). "U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War". New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 

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