What's Entertainment Now?

The attacks have shaken pop culture's sense of what's funny, thrilling and acceptable

Aliens blowing up the White House. Calling game-show contestants "Survivors." Background shots of the New York City skyline. Caring about Gary Condit's and Anne Heche's love lives. Videogame warriors blasting through ruins. Insult comedy. Smug, detached comedy. Political comedy. These are just a few more of the casualties of Sept. 11's...

Wait. Start again. "Casualties"? An officeworker, encased in a steel-and-concrete tomb, who did not live to see the birth of his baby: that is a casualty. But an entertainment genre? That's the vanity of vanities. That's confetti. That's nothing.

This, in a way, is the problem facing American pop culture...

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