In Memory: Wonkette.com’s 9/11 Tradition

Too soon?

No folks, 9/11 wasn’t hilariously funny. It was a scary time, a horrible time, but let’s admit it, it was also sort of a quirky, Felliniesque time, a period when both the red and blue sides lowered the volume of their hatred for each other to around 2 or 3 out of 10 for a few blissful months, because “at least they’re Americans!” It was like one of those celebrity-stuffed 1960s movies, you know, like It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Everyone was insane. Everyone.

But time passed, and — again, not to make light of the horror of it all, like, could you even fucking imagine — beginning in 2002, the Wonkette webzine started running a joke article about super-awkward “crying eagle” art every year on 9/11.

The Wonkette article (written by the eccentric, desert-dwelling snark-wholesaler Ken Layne) was published back when the internet was still pretty cool and hip, not the uptight, PC, permanently angry, bot-controlled, moron-and-influencer-filled, virtue-signaling shithole it is today; you know, before the Jezebel blog was sued into bankruptcy for making jokes about a literal billionaire fascist.

I remember seeing the grainy footage of the towers falling on TV over and over and over and over again (“Wait, some French guys just dropped footage of the first plane!”), and eventually, my mind sort of spliced those scenes to the crappy CGI-powered shots George Lucas used in the “big stuff getting wrecked or similarly inconvenienced” scenes in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, a movie I literally went to see about 15 times in theaters, stoned out of my fucking mind, only because I thought Darth Maul was so cool (I could lie and say I waited to get my popcorn and grain silo of Coke until the scenes featuring the widely hated Jar Jar Binks were running, but fuck you, Star Wars geeks, you need to stop acting like Yoda wasn’t just as cringe-inducing as Jar Jar when he first appeared in Empire Strikes Back — Yoda was an actual Muppet, you know, like Fozzie The Bear or Elmo). Even today, whenever I accidentally see the burning and smoking and almost soothing crumbling with its ASMR-worthy sound, my brain automatically segues into re-running those messy, poorly focused scenes of the Naboo invasion in Phantom Menace.

9/11 was the beginning of the end for our empire, no question. Working people had it the worst: all of a sudden, just like that, we were all terrified, paranoid, self-hating and — like now, during the covid plague — running distressingly low in wise political leadership. Many of us were suddenly jobless, worrying about basics like food and housing while we watched our greedy, bullying empire send 18-wheeler truckloads of hundred-dollar bills to weapons manufacturers and private military contractors, all toward the effort of invading Iraq, of all places, a sovereign country that had literally nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.

Bad days, but the echoes of the attack — which many believe were brought on by our imperial overreach — are still ringing. Some still expect a next shoe to drop, what with all the hubristic battery America is committing, or helping to commit, against Yemen, Africa, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc. We sure haven’t changed much, have we.

Stay safe, fam. And, like Wonkette used to say every year, “Happy 9/11 everyone!”

If you want to be fully, genuinely informed about the political troll/bot invasion of Election 2016, 2020, and Elections-Yet-To-Come, buy my last book. There’s the tiniest bit of technical stuff in there, but you’ll get it, I promise. A second book is about to be announced, but meanwhile, my Twitter is @esaeger.

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Eric Saeger

Eric Saeger

Author of “Russian Nazi Troll Bots! The Busy Person’s Guide to How Trump’s Trolls Won the Internet.” Music writer at Hippo Press. Software guy. Doomsayer.