In the aftermath of Sept. 11's terrorist attacks, upcoming games and movies with violent -- or painfully evocative -- scenes involving Manhattan skyscrapers or airliners are being postponed, reappraised or altered.
Acknowledging that vitual aircraft could be used to ram a virtual World Trade Center, Microsoft has indefinitely postponed the release of Flight Simulator 2002, due Oct. 18, and will make available to owners of earlier editions a downloadable software patch that deletes the Twin Towers from the simulator's digital replica of New York City.
Sega has also indefinitely postponed the release of Propeller Arena, an air-combat game for Dreamcast whose battlegrounds include New York-inspired skyscrapers which players can fly above, between -- or into.
According to www.gamepro.com, Sega says "that while there's nothing upsetting built into the game's story, players could potentially re-enact the event' in game play."
Activision put off the scheduled Sept. 18 release of Spider-Man 2 Enter: Electro, so it could edit out scenes in the PlayStation 2 game of Spider-Man atop a skyscraper resembling the World Trade Center towers.
In a related development, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment delayed the videocassette release of its jousting movie, "A Knight's Tale," by three days to Sept. 28, so it could remove a teaser trailer for its upcoming "Spider-Man" movie.
The deleted trailer ends with helicopters trapped in a web spun by the superhero between the World Trade Center towers, according to GamePro.com. (The trailer was reportedly withdrawn as well from theaters and the Internet.)
The planet's biggest interactive entertainment publisher, Electronic Arts, temporarily suspended (for a week) Majestic, an online game of intrigue, government conspiracies, and murder that blurs the line between reality and fantasy by reaching out to players at any time during the day or night with phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and instant messages.
Electronic Arts spokesman Jeff Brown explained that - because some passengers aboard one of the hijacked airliners used cell phones to call their families - Majestic players might be offended by the game's pre-recorded telephone threats, screams and simulated emergencies.
An editorial in Video Business expressed the current concern of the entertainment industry: "There was an overwhelming reaction when the TV news coverage began ... that the scenes of commercial airliners willfully smashing into the World Trade Center were like something out of a blockbuster movie.
"Thankfully, the movies are the only experience most Americans have had with such devastation. But having seen the real thing, will people -- at least those old enough to absorb the tragedy - ever be willing to accept such scenes as mindless entertainment again?"
Worried about a backlash, Hollywood has, in fact, postponed the theatrical openings of two fall movies: "Big Trouble" (Sept. 21), starring Tim Allen, which ends with a bomb in a suitcase on a hijacked plane; and "Collateral Damage" (Oct. 5), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a character whose family is killed when a skyscraper is bombed.
The Twin Towers have been removed from "Zoolander," an upcoming movie starring Ben Stiller. And the ending of next summer's "Men in Black 2" - set at the World Trade Center - is being rewritten.
Writing the Twin Towers out of a script or wiping them from the skyline of "mindless entertainment" may make good business sense. But it's not what most of us need in the real world. Fortuitously, an alternative has arrived.
Warner Bros Home Video released "New York," the 14-hour Emmy Award-winning PBS series, in boxed seven- volume DVD and VHS. It's an awesome, exhilarating celebration of the city, its buildings and its people, from its founding in 1609 as a Dutch trading post through the end of the 20th century.
If you, too, feel numbed or as if your life is on hold, turn off the TV, rent or buy this series, and immerse yourself in a healing antidote to diffuse anxiety and grief.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
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