King Kong knakt de torens. De iconografie van 11 september
Universiteit van Amsterdam, NL
Ruth Oldenziel ontving haar PhD in Amerikaanse geschiedenis aan Yale University in 1992 en is sindsdien verbonden aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam als UHD. Zij schreef een aantal boeken en een reeks artikelen op het terrein van Amerikanistiek, genderstudies en techniekgeschiedenis, o.a. 'Boys and their Toys in America' (1997); Schoon Genoeg (1998); Making Technology Masculine: Men, Women and Modern Machines in America, 1870-1945 (1999); Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges (2000) Techniek in Nederland in de twintigste eeuw: huishoudtechnologie (2001); History of Gender and Technology Reader in North America (2003). Zij is recensent bij het dagblad Trouw, en is commentator op radio en tv als Amerika in het nieuws is.
King Kong snaps the towers. The iconography of the 11th of September
Just like the rest of the world The Netherlands too gave a lot of media attention to the attacks of the WTC, which because of its height, and despite its problems concerning infrastructure and leasing, had obtained a symbolic function for America and the Western world. Broadcasting politics and genre-demands created order out of the chaos of the collaborating news editorial offices of the public broadcasting networks. 'Nederland 2' presented a current of, often unedited, images from all 165 over the world; on 'Nederland 1' the experts (including the author) commented on the images in accordance with current affairs. Initially three important news elements were missing: images of the victims, of the offenders and of the official national media machine of the Bush administration. Eventually the victims should barely reach the hospitals; Al Qaida was only officially named after a number of days (and initially gave in the Netherlands an unusual amount of freedom to contribute background commentary); the disorganization of the government, and the absence of the President on television, resulted in the media machine of the Republican government to be one step behind at all times. A temporary fracture occurred due to these three elements: CNN became increasingly critical of the absence of Bush, and Dutch experts were able to direct the agenda of their news programmes - not limited by editorial story lines or sequences of images. These experts took on a different role than previously: no longer were they a support to the status quo but they were placing events in context; a moment of quiet for the illusion of clarity. Those commentators became a part of the media reality and therefore also selfreferential. The commentator contributes to the exposure of the construction of the visual culture as an element of politics.