Sunday, December 11, 2011

Look up, in the sky! It's a growth! It's a plane! It's a superbly botched architectural design!

Skycrapers are modern-day Rorschach tests. Hugely expensive Rorschach tests. Take the above picture. Some, as I did, see two high-rises enshrouded in a "cloud." Others might see genital warts (not having had them, I don't know what they look like, so I'll take that commenter at his word). Some might see an "H."

Apparently others see an image that evokes the 9/11 attacks that brought down the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in 2001. And that has them pissed off.

This site, from which I get mailings ever since I bought an anti-Obama bumper sticker as a gag gift three years ago, tries to explain that it is in fact supposed to represent clouds but from lower angles people understandably might imagine the 9/11 attacks.

It was, however, the comments section that prompted me to write this up, as it quickly devolved (comments on this site often devolve, almost as if it's a means to disprove evolution) into attacks on South Korea. With this design the ROK was showing it isn't really an ally, we should boycott South Korean goods until they cancel plans for this building, etc.:
And these are our supposed friends? These are the people we saved from invaders back in the early fifties, at great cost in American lives and money? How many billions do the get from us in foreign aid each year? Mayby Ron Paul is right – pull our troops and money out of there until they correct insults like this.
Using American military or economic pressure was a common theme:
Sounds to me like skorea’s become a liberal state. Wouldn’t be surprised to hear obama gave them the idea. Cut off trade untill they get rid of the cloud.
In fact, Obama Derangement Syndrome reared its ugly head a few times:
what sick demented mind would even hand in a design like that. wouldn’t happen if we had a strong leader in the oval office who had ALL our interests at heart . you’d probably need an mri to find it eh.
Sigh. I tried to be the voice of reason, but some still said it doesn't matter that it is supposed to be clouds:
Regardless of the intent, the outcome ‘is what it is’. The designers need to see what millions around the world will see, then scrap the idea and come up with something else.

If they’re so insensitive as to move forward with this design when everyone else is saying it’s too reminiscent of 9/11/01, then you have to look at it as if it’s their intent.
I'm a bit troubled by this idea, that even though the original intent is pretty clear, that doesn't matter if a whole bunch of other people wrongly assume it's something else and can't be appeased except by said object's destruction. If that's the case, are we going to see mass euthanization of all the Hitler cats?

Yikes, would that ever be an overreaction. (Not to mention argumentum ad hitlerum et absurdum.)

And for that reason, I don't think those two skyscrapers will be scrapped simply because it offends the sensibilities of people who don't get it. I mean, after all, in downtown Seoul, at the head of Ch'ŏngyech'ŏn Stream, we have a gigantic sculpture that makes people think of a giant swirl of excremental soft serve (see here and the last and third-from-last photos here; if you start from the bottom and you've scrolled up to the Marmotress dry-humping a hipster haetae, you've gone too far).

I mean, if we don't get rid of that, why would we get rid of anything?

[UPDATE: Here's a past post, Der Führry, on cats who look like Hitler.]

Similarly, I don't think anyone's calling for the massive Yongsan redevelopment project along the Han River to be discarded, even though it's pretty clear (to those inclined to see it) that those buildings are giving us the finger. In fact, maybe they're giving the US the finger. Pull out or troops now!

Seriously, the brouhaha over this structure sounds like those "It hurts our pride" Korean nationalists who saw the Japanese kanji for Japan in the rooftops of just about every building constructed during the Colonial Period and demanded their destruction. I mean, come on, 日 (the ni in Nihon) is so common and basic a shape that you would see it everywhere if you're looking for it.

Is it the same now with basic rectangular buildings with anything coming out of them? That could represent a plane attacking it or the resulting explosion? I mean, that this is 9/11 is a bit of a stretch in that the two explosions from the planes hitting and then the collapse were toward the top.

Moreover, the two explosions nor their smoke and debris fields did not really join as one, as depicted in the Korean building design. The smoke coming from them was also way toward the top, so that they looked like chimney stacks. And when the buildings collapsed, the cloud of debris was also toward the top. This architecture mock-up has the pixelated clouds mid-rise.

I don't know. I can see why people would imagine 9/11, but after knowing what the building is supposed to be, I think people can let it go. After 9/11, Fox pulled, I believe, two episodes of The Simpsons, one where the Back Street Boys thwart an attack on a New York City skyscraper (which sorta makes sense, given the sensitivities of the day), and another which simply depicted Homer Simpson visiting the two towers to retrieve his car (kinda inexplicably overreaching). Though the move was meant to be "permanent," they quietly brought back both later on.

This outcry over the towers in Seoul seems to be about as silly as the latter.

But in the interest of finding common ground, would it help things if the towers were colored, say, green or dark gray while the "clouds" remain white?

The New York Daily News says the architects have apologized for the design. But after reading that paper's take, I realized some of the respondents are hopeless emotional to the point of being irrational:
Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief whose son was killed on 9/11, said he didn’t believe the architects.

“I think it’s a total lie and they have no respect for the people who died that day,” he said. “They’re crossing a line.

“It looks just like the towers imploding,” he said. “I think they’re trying to sensationalize it. It’s a cheap way to get publicity.”
They're acting like, I don't know, South Korea made an eleven-year comedy series out of an American national tragedy or something. I may have to whip out some satire I used the last time that happened.

Don't get me wrong. 9/11 was a terrific tragedy for our country, and even more unimaginably so for those who lost friends and family on that date. I've never even been to New York City and yet I feel a sharp tinge of anger and regret when I see the NYC skyline without those towers, and I'm ecstatic that Osama bin Laden can do no more harm. I would be ready to take down (figuratively) anyone who was actually mocking the tragedy or taking advantage of it.

But see, what's happened is that it's not the South Koreans who have done any of that, at least not with this tower design, but instead it's those who evoked 9/11 to get us into Iraq or to turn against our fellow Americans who are of the Muslim faith (or just Arab or Arab-looking).

The Los Angeles Times is now carrying this story as well, but it looks like the commenters there are much more mellow and accepting about the whole thing. Could it be because they're farther from New York City, or maybe because they're closer to South Korea?


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