The 9 Most Offensive 9/11 References in Pop Culture

#4. Anti-Smoking Ads

Cigarette companies have a long, morally dubious history of using manipulative images to make their products stand out. And they've suffered the shit storms for it throughout the years, so it's great to see that the anti-smoking lobby has finally caught up in the tasteless exploitation race.

It's so obvious when you think about it: two cigarettes, parallel, both lit. Cigarettes kill people, and 9/11 killed people -- the perfect connection! It sends a clear and concise message: "If you smoke, you're a 9/11!"

We're not certain, but we think the patch qualifies you as a Flight 93.

We're not surprised that somebody got it in his head to exploit a national tragedy, and we're sadly not even surprised that it's the anti-smoking lobby. We are pretty surprised, however, that somebody thought this was a good enough idea to run ... in two separate campaigns.

#3. The Official FEMA 9/11 Coloring Book

Therapy is essential in helping everybody, but especially children, process traumatic experiences. It's simple: Returning to a disturbing memory in a safe context helps you come to terms with it. Presumably that's what FEMA was going for when it produced the accurately titled children's book, A Scary Thing Happened. But while the theory is sound, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Like, for example, maybe they didn't have to make it a coloring book:

Notice that the artist crams not one, not two, but three 9/11s into a single image -- the fabled Triple Giuliani! At no point in the making of this thing -- from the brainstorming to the writing to the actual artistry - did somebody ever stop for one second and consider the implications of asking children to hand-color in images of the flames that burned many actual, real people alive:

Understandably, some people had a problem with the picture, and FEMA eventually took it down. Which is a shame, because if our children can't smear crayons over squiggly depictions of national tragedies, then haven't the terrorists won already?

#2. Remember Me

Remember Me is the first romantic dramadey featuring Twilight guy and teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson, wherein he broke from the fantasy roles that made him a star to give a daring performance ... as teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson. It was a pretty conventional movie. Here we have a sexy shower scene where even the characters complain how cliche it is:

And here we have the father/suitor showdown:

Standard stuff: Handsome male lead, quirky but pretty female lead, a few selections from the bittersweet indie romantic comedy playbook, love conquers all ... and then the film's climax makes a sharp left turn into tactless absurdity:

Just keep with it -- it's only a minute long. Done?

We'd like to reiterate, at this point, that up until the last minute of run-time, the movie never alluded to, nor even hinted at, a connection to 9/11. An hour or so of heartfelt romantic comedy, and then BAM!

Not pictured: Tact.

You got 9/11'ed.

But really, it's the only logical culmination of the Nicholas Sparks "last-minute tragic twist" romance formula. What's more tragic than Alzheimer's disease? Cancer. And what's more tragic than cancer? September goddamn 11th! Way to step up your game, guy who previously directed nine episodes of Sex and the City. Nobody can mock your shallow storytelling and callous, superficial characters now that you've 9/11'ed the shit out of Robert Pattinson. That's probably deep somehow!

Nothing shows solemn respect like CGI.

#1. 9/11 Candy Toys

You know those big bags of candy you find in dollar stores, filled up with off-brand Smarties and little plastic objects that seem more likely to simultaneously asphyxiate and poison children than to amuse them? In the summer of 2004, Lisy Corp. had to recall a whole bunch of those inane, chintzy little doodads because they supposedly included two politically insensitive toys. The first one was a little plastic airplane suspended between two purple skyscrapers:

Honestly, after what we've seen in this article, that's not that bad. It was probably just another misunderstanding that people got touchy about, one of those things that only looks bad in context. It could honestly just be a plane flying through a city. Now, here's the other toy included in the package:

"Oh, that? What? It's a ... uh ... bearded, turban-wearing King Kong! No? Well, shit: You're reduced to buying dollar-store candy, so we just figured you'd be with us on this whole death-to-America thing."

Fletcher is a freelance writer. His book Trigger, a memoir of video games, bad sex and crippling mental illness, is due this fall from St. Martin's Thomas Dunne imprint.

The secrets don't stop here, learn more in the brand new book! And once you get that book, make sure you take a picture of yourself with it, then upload it to our Facebook fan page for a chance to win $250!

For more inappropriate advertising, check out As Seen on TV: The 10 Most Laughably Misleading Ads and 12 'Sexy' Ads That Will Give You Nightmares.

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