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C.E.L.L. house of horror indoctrination

THE CELL passcardDENVER, COLORADO-
The visitor brochure explains that THE C.E.L.L. exhibit SHATTERED LIVES is “designed to encourage critical thinking.” But a step through its doors proves it intends everything but. With a patronizing audacity beyond Orwell, these A.G.E.N.T.S. lurk with sensory trauma to infect your personal American idyll with fear.

To my mind, they’re Alarmist Goons Elevating a Nonsensical Terrorism Scare.

Picture-taking is forbidden beyond the lobby doors, but after the collage assemblage in the atrium, there’s nothing to photograph. The ticketed portion of the ride consists of crooked halls filled simply with video screens, projections, and blurbs of text on the walls; self-described “sophisticated multimedia techniques.” Monitors and kiosks are peppered throughout in multiples, as if the installation were anticipating subway-strength traffic making a beeline through; or large school groups with no freedom to move laterally.

Of course, the omniscient repetition also indoctrinates us subliminally. The TV news clips sample a half dozen terrorism incidents, Munich, Lockerbie, Nairobi, et EL AL. Remote voices accompany still photos of bloodied carnage. Fear falling shards Amidst the intonations of observers and analysts ring two repeated motifs: JFK’s mocking condemnation of terrorists, and Edmund Burke’s admonition “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Someone can’t resist that adage. I wonder if it’s true.

PUTS YOU AT THE SCENE
Before I relate the plenty creepy details, I’ll jump straight to the orchestration’s third movement. Perhaps someone else can compare the programming of THE CELL according to known indoctrination stratagems. I’ll call the third chamber the climax. Automatically-timed doors enforce a six-minute collective “immersion.” Signs warn away anyone with a weak heart, etc, although I didn’t see an alternate passage around. Neither do the doors allow anyone to pass quickly through. They release the previous group before locking to entrap the next.

( S P O I L E R – A L E R T )
Inside, a video-surround chamber simulates a camera obscura viewpoint, first we’re at a summer fair in Denver’s Civic Center Park, then outside the DAM, then a sunny morning on the 16th Street Mall. The movement of bystanders and passersby around us sometimes slows or accelerates. Until SUDDENLY –OF COURSE– we’re at the epicenter of a FURIOUS EXPLOSION and our mid-west urban tranquility is engulfed in fire. Soon enough, floating in the flames come images of urban battlefields, destruction and carnage. Eventually we can recognize the iconic photographs of Pan Am Flight 103, and the rescue of embassy employees in Kenya, about which we were just reminded in the previous chamber. Then we’re treated to a large text message which reminds us that a terrorist attack can strike “anyone, anytime, anywhere,” and we’re released into an antechamber of analysis.

Actually, claustrophobes might want to know that every segment of THE CELL is time-released. But there will be intrusive control elements to offend everyone.

PERSONALIZED ID
For starters, the entrance fee is $8, or $6 to Coloradans. Can you think of why the cost of admission would be more expensive for out-of-state visitors? I can’t. But the discount means patrons must show their ID to buy a ticket. The clerk issues a computer receipt.

Along with your ticket you get a magnetic passcard which you’re instructed to use at progressive kiosks along your route. You swipe your card to gain access to biographical information about a particular victim of terror. The first row of kiosks will reveal a first page of info, a later pod will reveal a second page, etc. No matter which kiosk, your card will only access a single bio, meaning passcards are keyed to the visitor. Mine brought up a middle aged professor whose life was shattered by terrorism. Perhaps a younger visitor would be given a passcard corresponding to a like-aged victim of “Shattered Lives.” Learning, as their own immersion into THE CELL progressed, how their adopted personage fared in THEIR brush with terrorism.

INDOCTRINATION
Let’s see. First chamber: Kennedy, Burke and multimedia barrage. Second chamber: news clips, kiosks with bio part one. Third chamber: BOOM. Fourth chamber: Rand Corporation analysts, so-called experts sitting beneath bookshelves of law books. Dershowitz and the usual talking heads that you see as FOX advisers. One important meme is the accusation that the internet is increasingly being used as a propaganda tool of the Islamists. Websites, blogs, chat rooms are suspect. Trust only the credentialed media apparently…

Two of videos in the last chamber are timed so that you have to watch one, then the other. They include snippets of the videos available at the interactive displays, in case you had chosen not to watch them. There are numerous clips from Islamic television which purport to demonstrate how Muslim children are being indoctrinated against the west.

No forewarningPHOTOGRAPHS:
Here is what greets us at the entrance of THE CELL, before we even get to the exhibit. First, flashing images of violence and victims. Next, a collage of the FACES OF TERROR. Already we are able to recognize faces from the video sequences on the first wall. (Are there so few victims of terrorism? Or are the show’s makers deliberately limiting the selection of iconic fear-triggers?)

Faces of Terror
Faces of fear. Isn’t that what “terror” means? We can project ourselves in those images. Faces forever fearful.

Bright dark future for terrorismNext a map with cross-hairs roaming at seemingly random locations “anywhere.” The text explains that acts of terrorism began in the latter 20th century, and apparently EL AL airline was its principle early target.

Definition of Terrorism
What young scholar’s essay does not begin with a “definition?” In this case the word, even more typically, is “for various political, social and cultural reasons” defies definition. How extraordinary! (It reminds me of the www.thecell.org website, which by any standard is written for under-sophisticated readers.)

Terrorism shatters lives
Here’s the exhibit’s theme, SHATTERED LIVES, adjacent the reception desk ticket counter. The wall is papered with names, resembling the black marble of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall, probably these are names from the WTC.

I was directed to take no pictures of the main installation, but I pulled my camera out again right before the exit door.

Mayor Hickenlooper says thanks
There I found Denver Mayor Hinckenlooper thanking everyone for visiting the C.E.L.L. and urging us to become active eyes and ears against the terrorist threat.

Giuliani says helloOf course, could there be any official statement about 9/11 without ex New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani weighing in? Etc, etc, and so it goes.

But I loved one of the parting shots, TV footage of Giuliani at Ground Zero in 2001 showed him wearing a mask. There’s the brave mayor making a quick round of handshakes, with workers notably not wearing any protection. Every one of those workers is now most famously dead, or suffering respiratory ailments in NYC hospices. While Giuliani still tramps around as 911 hero.

Wears mask at Ground Zero

(See previous NMT article about THE CELL.)

2 thoughts on “C.E.L.L. house of horror indoctrination

  1. Giuliani whose “Terror Expert” credentials are that he oversaw the final prosecutions in a 30-year Federal Case against his Mafia buddies, and… Getting Skunked by al Qa’eda, Twice… and in the exact same spot BOTH times.

    oh, and getting Undeclared Campaign Contributions errr… Consultant Fees for promoting the Global Terroristic War on Enduring Liberty…

    you know, if I were asking for advice on how to combat Terrorism, I wouldn’t pay a $5,000 fee for a three-day seminar in which somebody who had LOST to Terrorists in every encounter he had, telling me stuff that’s published on Web-Sites and in Corporate Controlled newspapers and on Fox Corporate News across the nation.

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