USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘9/11’
Folk Beliefs
general
Humor

9/11: The TRUTH

Context: I was chatting with my roommate about his time in marching band in high school, and the following is one of the encounters he had during one of his festival trips.

Background: My roommate is a psychology minor, and one of the aspects of the subject he’s always been interested in is the part of the human brain that induces paranoia. Because of this, he’s been invested in conspiracy theories for a long time.

Dialogue: (Note: C denotes myself, B denotes my roommate)

C: So what about the van?

B: Oh, 9/11!

C: 9/11, tell me about 9/11!

B: OK! First of all, inside job. Second of all, I was in Victoria, British Columbia on a band trip, and, um, we were getting ready to march in this parade, and we saw this van driving around the– the– I guess the Parliament building? Um, and it said on the side of it, “9/11 was an inside job.” It was like a 9/11 truther van. And I thought, “Why… do you care? You’re in Canada… 9/11 did not happen in Canada.” I just thought that was interesting. I had a lot of questions, first of all… “What?” Second of all, um, like like like are these Americans doing this? Uh, if so, why are they in Canada, why are they in Victoria, British Columbia? Um… you know you’re not even near New York at this point!

Analysis: I actually debated with myself over what to categorize this piece as. The central bit of folklore revolves around a conspiracy theory regarding what “really” happened on 9/11, which is a tragic day in American history. However, the countless people who insist that 9/11 was an “inside job” (AKA a disaster orchestrated by the US government itself) have put such ridiculous and unreal theories out there, that it’s nearly impossible not to laugh at something like a “9/11 truther van” driving around. Because of this, and because of the fact that this theory is a belief shared in online communities without consideration for reality, I decided to categorize it as both Humor and as a Folk Belief.

Annotation: My roommate’s encounter is not nearly the first instance where the “9/11 was an inside job” belief popped up. In fact, in the same conversation, my roommate mentioned the documentary Loose Change as a good place to go deeper into the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11.

general
Humor
Narrative

Joke – Washington D.C.

Joke

9/11 Joke – Washington, D.C.

Person A: Knock, knock.

Person B: Who’s there?

Person A: You said you’d never forget!

This joke references the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. During that time and for years after, the phrase, “We will never forget” came to define the tragedy. It became a unifying American idea that while we will move on as a country, we will never forget the lives lost on that horrific day.

This joke is a spin-off of the classic knock-knock joke, which always follows the format:

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”

When the audience member asks, “Who’s there?” the jokester plays off of the question, pretending to be hurt that he or she “forgot” 9/11.

This joke can arguably both assert and insult the American identity. If a person from another country heard this joke, he or she probably wouldn’t understand the reference, and assume Person B forgot who Person A was. Therefore, only an American can participate in this joke. However, it mocks the tendency of future-oriented America to disregard/forget her past.

Lucy learned this joke seven years ago in D.C. from a friend, whom she says tells many morbid jokes. She does not find the joke insulting because, in her words, “it stretches the boundaries with what we can make fun of.” She thinks people shouldn’t be scared of being politically incorrect. “I think it’s hilarious,” she said, noting that “there is nothing worse than mindless good taste.”

While I think this joke carries an important commentary on America, I’m not ready to tell and laugh at 9/11 jokes. Seven years later, that memory is still fresh in my memory. However, I agree with Lucy that people shouldn’t be afraid of being politically correct, but only if the situation calls for it.

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