Art: The Culture Comes Home

Reconciling? Reprioritizing? Popular entertainment was doing it long before Sept. 11

Over the past two months, it has become tempting--and too easy--to mark Sept. 11 as the day life turned bad and we turned good. The Great Before, goes the myth, was a time of peace, plenty and triviality, when we coasted in blissful self-absorption, drunk on day trading, egged on by a selfish, amoral popular culture. The period has become as instantly stereotyped as the '60s: just replace acid with half-caf lattes, Charles Manson with Gary Condit, and Woodstock with Survivor. It's a response that is both self-loathing (smacking of the Falwellian idea that we somehow brought disaster on our frivolous...

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