We all know McCartney is technically a knight—but seriously?
Legendary documentarian Albert Maysles and Paul McCartney have teamed up to commemorate September 11 with a special documentary…about Paul McCartney.
Right off the bat, let me say that I love Paul McCartney. He may even be my favorite Beatle.
In 2001 Rolling Stone published a McCartney profile that described him walking around New York not long after 9/11 with people’s still-gaunt faces lighting up in his wake: “McCartney has a good word or a thumbs up for everyone. He’s weaving that old Beatles magic, and he knows it. He also knows that New York needs it.”
I believe this. The Beatles still stoke our imagination like no other rock band in history, and seeing Paul McCartney is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That said, the idea of framing the 9/11 experience around a figure like McCartney—knighthood and all—feels like it misses the mark of good taste.
Called “The Love We Make,” the doc will air on Showtime on September 10th, the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the film follows Paul McCartney as he journeys through the streets of New York City in the aftermath of the World Trade Center’s destruction. It also chronicles the planning and performance of the benefit concert that took place less than six weeks after the attacks,” known as The Concert for New York City.
Discussing the concert itself McCartney sounds classy enough: “There was a feeling of shock and fear in the air that I thought we could help alleviate with music. And the fact that so many people stepped up to join us made for a very uplifting evening for us all.”
But the notion of a major documentary commemorating 9/11 through anyone’s eyes other than those directly impacted by the tragedy seems to insult our basic sense of respect. Director Albert Maysles goes even further:
There was so much suffering as a result of 9/11 it’s hard to imagine how one might bring relief to those who were impacted by the attacks, and honor those firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who lost their lives in their heroic attempt to help others. But Paul had the answer: music and a film that would tell the full story.
On the morning of September 11 McCartney was sitting on an airplane on the tarmac at JFK. Through his (grounded) plane window, he watched the towers collapse. After the passengers deplaned McCartney caught a car back to his house in Easthampton. A while later he organized a concert. With all due respect, that is far from “the full story.”
Unlike some, the criticism that “McCartney’s not even American” doesn’t bother me—9/11 was a human tragedy, and one anyone could relate to. But we have all the time in the world to obsess over superstars and fame—it seems like commemorating 9/11 should be about the people impacted the most by that terrible day.
Still, maybe I’m wrong on this. McCartney seems to have an almost super-human charm. Maybe seeing a documentary in which he talks about his own experiences surrounding 9/11 will have the same effect on people as seeing him walking around the streets of New York. Maybe it’s part of what comes along with knighthood.
Check out “The Love We Make” on Showtime, Sept 10 at 9pm ET.