Monday, September 11, 2006

Don't be anybody's lunch

How do we know what we know when everybody in powers seems to be lying? That is the question raised by The Civilians production of (I Am) Nobody's Lunch and the one that has enveloped both sides of the Atlantic since 9/11. Straight to London from the Fringe, The Civilians, a much buzzed about downtown NYC theatre troupe, perform a cabaret-style cheeky romp about the media mine of disinformation and how all too often inaccurate news is disseminated and absorbed.

Riveted by the timely sidelong glance at NYC and our world post 9/11, I found myself gripped by The Civilians production. Five years after the calamity that struck the City and the initial international spirit of fellow-feeling and cooperation, the US (and by default its poodle Britain) are more loathed in many parts of the world than our supposed aggressors. That is, assuming us and our aggressors are not merely one psyche transposed: an id unmediated by any cultural super-ego. Bush without a conscience? Now that is hardly newsworthy.

And this is not proposed with seditious or incendiary intent. Rather it is reflecting the already growing fomentation across the US and UK of the 'Truth Behind 9/11' movement, spurred by a disbelief in the government's spin. This past weekend's Guardian, showed a recent poll in the U.S. which found that 36% of Americans believed it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that their government was involved in allowing the attacks or had carried them out itself. There are many people in the UK who agree with them.

Conspiracy theories abound, but their unifying theme is that a neo-conservative cabal within the US government staged the events as a pretext to wage wars, to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And this is not far from the blend of suspicion and apathy that is a recurring motif in (I Am) Nobody's Lunch, albeit via a song and dance. The production asks if post 9/11 uncertainty has not led us to turn away from the big questions (i.e. Bush's "Islam vs. Christianity" prostelyzing) for refuge in the distractions of smaller ones (i.e. peace-keeping in Afghanistan)? The Civilians deliver Michael Moore themes updated with humour by trendy New Yorkers, played to a hip, Soho audience.

By the end, I was left asking myself what conceit is more abhorrant: affirming that the US government did indeed fail to prevent and/or foil the 11 September attacks (as is generally contended); or rather that parties involved with and/or part of the US government had full prior knowledge and actively or passively favoured the 9/11 attacks and supported the cover-up that followed? What state is more egregious: an ignorant government or a befooled people?

And on that note, I am reminded of a quote by David Brooks in a NY Times op-ed piece on the problems confronting Democrats in the U.S: "The Greeks used to say we suffer our way to wisdom." But what if by refusing to confront with wisdom the bigger "good vs. evil" contentions of Grandmaster Bush, and instead focusing on interim conflicts, we are showing our inherent inability to, as Jack Nicholson famously posited at the climax of A Few Good Men, 'handle the truth'? Doesn't the question then become whether the postmodernist rejection of all grand narratives isn't the biggest grand narrative of all?

Thankfully, (I Am) Nobody's Lunch gives us a hopeful message for the taking: Don't be anybody's lunch. Have hope in yourself, in your knowledge, and even (it must be dreamt) in your government. Because in today's post 9/11 world we all deserve a light at the end of the tunnel.

Book now:

I (Am) Nobody's Lunch at the Soho Theatre
6-9 Sept , 11-16 Sept, 18-23 Sept
from £10


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first conspiracy theories about September 11 began to emerge while the wreckage was still smoldering. Today, nearly five years later, hundreds of books and thousands of Web pages are devoted to the idea that the U.S. government encouraged, permitted, or actually carried out the attacks. These theories claim to be based on hard evidence.

Among the issues examined:

Claims that air traffic control violated standard operating procedures by not immediately intercepting the stricken jets;
That the fire caused by the crashes wasn't actually hot enough to melt steel and cause structural damage in the World Trade Center;
That the holes in the Pentagon were too small to have been made by a Boeing 757;
That Flight 93 was actually shot down by an Air Force plane.

3:58 pm  
Anonymous GenRegs said...

I agree City Slicker -the discussion on the Iraq war is essentially a diversion. There is a secret clause in the Trident submarine treaty that was signed by Mrs Thatcher in 1983. The secret clause states that the British Prime Minister is required to go to war if he/she gets the order from the President of the United States. You will appreciate that this information explains a lot, notably why Blair has repeatedly gone to war, but only when required to by the Americans. It also explains why Blair is so different from his Labour predecessors, such as Harold Wilson, who refused to send our troops to Vietnam in 1968. The secret agreement was designed by Thatcher to secretly tie the hands of British Prime Ministers for many years to come. Without naming sources, I received this information from a British Army officer a couple of years ago.

4:03 pm  
Anonymous GenRegs said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:03 pm  
Anonymous Tanya said...

I for one think a fooled people is much more dangerous because then the government has no reigns on it and can just keep getting away with murder (literally in this case). This is the fence I sit on with regards to the current US position. There is too much stacking against 9/11 being only Al Queda. When will we ever be told though?

4:15 pm  
Anonymous Tim said...

Opinion polls repeatedly have
shown that most Americans view the major media as biased and untrustworthy. Similarly, polls show that Americans tend to be suspicious of government. This is healthy skepticism, based on experience and common sense: we have learned firsthand that government officials and the media frequently lie. However, this same skepticism must also be applied to alternative information sources, whether they be talk radio, the Internet, newsletters, magazines, or word of mouth.

One of our first guidelines should be based on the old adage, "Consider the source." What is the track record of the source? Have they been reliable in the past? Do they have a well-earned reputation for truth and getting the facts straight?

Excellent piece and provocation City Slicker!

4:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a loyal Guardian reader I too saw the piece at the weekend and was very surprised at the high % of distrusting Americans. This is the sort of news that would do Bush Country a lot of good if was known internationally. It is still hard to break through the stereotype of a gullible fear stricken US.

4:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


One who cravenly does another's bidding, a metaphorical butt boy.

The Left calls Tony Blair "George Bush's poodle."

4:47 pm  
Anonymous DemocratsAbroad said...

City Slicker You may have heard about the efforts in the US to stop ABC from broadcasting 'The Path to 9/11', the biased, inaccurate film made by Disney (Touchstone TV) about the events leading up to the day...starting in 1993. We now need to act here in the UK to stop BBC 2 from showing it. The premise is that Clinton screwed up and therefore caused 9/ convenient just before the mid-terms. (Have you requested your ballot at

Please contact the BBC to complain. Make sure they know you are a TV license payer. You can contact the BBC by phoning 0870 010 0222 or by entering your complaint of the contact us page for the Newswatch programme. It's NewsWATCH NOT Newsnight. Newswatch is the programme that takes the BBC to task about their programmes. Their contact us page is at

5:18 pm  
Anonymous Jo said...

Great blog.
Show sounds very good indeed.
But the Soho Theatre is so far from Hackney :-(

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Bill said...

But when will Bush have to pay the piper?

6:39 pm  
Anonymous Ella said...

This play was reviewed today in Metro CS. So were that girl band Bat for Lashes you recommended. Are you sure you aren't doing us an inside job yourself here :-)

9:43 am  
Anonymous Claire said...

Went last night
Brilliantly fun production
Dont miss this one readers!

10:19 am  

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