Sunday, September 11, 2011

Framing the Story: Spike Lee Remembers 9/11 and Martin Luther King Jr.

How do you remember 9/11? What was your personal story of that day? What are some of the stories that still resonate with you?

The LA Times had an article a few weeks ago that really captured the essence of good storytelling.

Day of terror in New York: Pages from a reporter's 9/11 journal is a series of reflections by Los Angeles Times writer Geraldine Baum on the journal entries she scrawled in her journal on that day.

As I was reading the paper a few weeks ago, I came across this line and felt my heart in my throat as though experiencing the moment myself:

"In the months after Sept. 11, Walter was preoccupied with trying to find who led him and his co-workers to a stairwell, saving all their lives. Finally, he was able to identify "our hero" — Pablo Ortiz, a Port Authority employee who had died helping others. A photograph of Ortiz's family hangs on Walter's office wall."

But also noteworthy is what is unfolding in terms of how companies are remembering 9/11 via their commercials today. Sitting here watching football on the first Sunday of the NFL, I’ve been more intrigued with the commercials taking place between snaps than the game itself.

I wrote a few weeks back about a Chevrolet commercial for the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial put together by Spike Lee. The result, as you can see below, was powerful. And he’s at it again. I’ve seen this new State Farm commercial he's directed now 4-5 times today and it moves me each time. In  short, a group of school children sing Empire State of Mind while traveling through parts of New York, ending up at a local fire station to serenade a group of fire fighters.

I don’t know if State Farm will sell any more home or auto insurance based off this ad. I don’t really care about their motivation for making the spot. It’s a fitting tribute to the men and women who lost their lives. It says something about the resilience of New York, of America, really of humanity to never forget but carry on living.

Watch the spots below. I hope like me, you’ll be happy that two powerful spots like these are reaching a larger audience, and framing the story of two important events in a way any of us who believe in the power of storytelling are happy to see. If you like the version of the song, you can purchase it on Itunes and State Farm says that all proceeds will go to a national firefighters fund.

Chevrolet MLK Commercial

State Farm Empire State of Mind

Interviews and Extras in their own words (on State Farm Youtube site)


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