Pearl Harbor, Memorial Day, and drop's inability to NOT start a fight

Me: “Hmmm. Says here they are changing some of the dialogue in “Pearl Harbor” in the translations for the Japanese market. They don’t want to offend anybody with the racist theme.”

Wife: “You mean how stupid it makes White people look?”

Daughter: “Why does it make White people look stupid?”

Wife: “Well, they put the entire Pacific Fleet in a row with a ‘BOMB ME’ sign on it.”

Me: “Not the ENTIRE Pacific Fleet. The Japanese missed the carriers by a few days.”

Ahem. Maybe there was some racist language that would offend some folks, but the studio is expecting the Japanese market to see it for the love story between Ben Affleck and some Veronica Lake clone. If I were Japanese I would see it to watch some American butt get seriously kicked. Sounds like fun!

Actually most Japanese people today would prefer to think that the war never happened. I believe that the film’s distributors in Japan felt that the local audience would be quite shocked to see the carnage and mayhem that the Mitsubishi Zeros cause in the film. So they would rather focus on the love story aspect.
It’s mainly Japanese-Americans who have protested the ‘racist’ portrayal of the Japanese. I don’t know if that is such an issue in Japan. It’s just that WWII is still sort of denied in Japan today.

I think I’ll have to see the film befor I judge if it is racist or not. Even though I have decided the it will be a bad movie without seeing it.

Lines are ‘changed’ in the translation process for a number of reasons. Usually it is difficult to translate idioms (or slang to you and me) into another language. So they may have had to change some lines like ‘Jap Bastards’ or ‘Yellow Menace’ to something more ‘understandable’ to a modern Japanese audience.
[sub]please note that Zebra does not endorse the use of ‘Jap Bastards’ or ‘Yellow Menace’ or ‘understanable’[/sub]

sorry my thoughts are so scattered, it’s nearly 4am

That might be good for the first part, but the second part deals with Tokyo getting bombed. Which may not be as much fun for the Japanese to watch.

Well, when movies like this deal with history they already get bomblasted for slight modifications to the reality (i.e. Japanese flag over USS Lexington etc.) One can imagine the fuss if they removed race from the whole issue. Although it would certainly be interesting to see the roles assigned randomly regardless of race. I remember I was quite surprised to see an Asian playing one of the female courtiers in William Branaugh’s Hamlet.

Anyway as long as the producers and directors take care to make a fair and balanced portrayal of the situation I can’t see how you could call it rascist. So the question becomes is the portrayal fair?

I know in one scene (i’ll be seeing this tomorrow) (this is not a spoiler) a AJA receives a phone call from the Japanese consulate asking if there are American ships in Pearl Harbor, and he says yes. Apparantly this was researched and this conversation was found to be … can’t find the right word. Not meaningless or irrelevant but similar to them. Anyway they include it. Why? My scout master was a young scout at the time. He was Japanese and when they bombed the base he, along with his whole troop, didn’t come home for a couple days as they were out there helping to put out fires, direct traffic and other things necessary after the bombing. And yet most of the actors are white. I know the scouts in the great shot are white. The movie was filmed in Hawaii, the event took place in Hawaii and yet as I understand it, all local ethnicities are overlooked. Although I wouldn’t say it’s racism, well maybe it is in a sense, but more it’s blindness on the part of the director. But I wouldn’t say this is a Pearl Harbor thing, I think this is a Hollywood thing.

As for the AJA’s protest they do have precedant. One black man was shot and killed because of the portrayal of blacks in Birth of a Nation Although that was 86 years ago. I think the guy in the newsbroadcast said he was worried about play ground teasing of Japanese kids about this. Although if they knew anything about the history of Japanese units fighting for the US in WWII they should have absolutely no problem shutting those teasers up!

P.S. I’m White, or at least I look White

Do you ever wonder what Memorial Day (or ANZAC Day) is like for Japanese and German people? I’m only too aware that the tourism industry here spends millions of dollars enticing Japanese people to visit a country which spends one day a year celebrating how many of them they killed in World War 2. How embarrassing is that?

I just don’t think the world needs a film like Pearl Harbour - international relations don’t need a film like Pearl Harbour. That was then and this is now. Human beings will always have a need to remember that evil is a latent thing. Every generation to end of time will need to be reminded of that. But we need to see it as latent in all people (us included) not just the Nazis and Italians and Japanese people of the 1930s. Accounts of history like this make that pretty much impossible.

I saw the film(all 3 hours of it. They should have shaved an hour and half off) There was no ‘racist’ dialougue(sp?). It was noticably missing. There was a lack of the expected slurs that military men would use describe a potential enemy. There were also no slurs hurled about after the attack.

The number of enemy deaths is not the thing being celebrated, G. Nome. Nowhere. All memorial days that I know of are about remembering those who have fallen, and increasingly about remembering those who have fallen on either side. Lest we forget. Are you saying New Zealand is different in that respect?

It would surprise me to no end.

Except for the comment made about New Zealanders (of which I know almost nothing), I would have to agree with Coldfire. For Memorial Day, I thought of my father, and the stories he used to tell about WWII. Some of the funnier ones, because he wouldn’t talk much about the trauma. He was a tail gunner, and had some great stories to share. One of the funniest is how he once tried to slide down a pyramid and shredded the back of his pants to bits. Sorry, I’m off topic here, but I just wanted to share that Memorial Day is so much more than what you implied, G. Nome. It’s a day to remember those lost, not a day to crow in victory.

Haven’t seen it (and don’t really plan it), but it sounds like they went to great lengths to downplay the racial components. I can see several reasons for that.

  1. Japan is a big market. It’s bad business to piss them off.

  2. The perception in Hollywood (and elsewhere) is that a white audience won’t go to a movie with Black stars (with one or two exceptions – Morgan Freeman comes to mind). At the same time, the perception is that Black audiences don’t mind going to movies with white stars. By casting white stars, you (supposedly) maximize your audience.

  3. The racial aspect of 1942 Hawaii is much too complex to be a side issue. Hawaii was imperfectly integrated (though much better than anywhere else in America at the time). There were prejudices, especially in the navy, which looked down upon the non-white Hawaiian (and gave Blacks only menial jobs).

  4. This isn’t a movie. It’s a marketing ploy, a by-the-numbers copy of the formula that made “Titanic” a blockbuster. So you have a love story (to bring in the women who don’t like action) leading up to an action sequence at the end (to bring in the men who hate love stories). Whereas “Titanic” at least seemed to believe in its characters and story, “Pearl Harbor” was designed solely to hit the right demographics. Since the demographic go for the largest audience, racial characterizations were not part of the package.

It would be nice. I can recall a version of “Lucia di Lammamor” where Lucia was white and her brother Black – and they were both supposed to be Scottish (and were singing in Italian). Back in the 60s, they did a play of Dan Greenberg’s “How to Be a Jewish Mother,” with Molly Picon (Jewish) as the mother and Godfrey Cambridge (Black) as the son. It flopped, however.

And let’s not forget the more recent “Much Ado About Nothing” with Denzel Washington as the Prince and Keanu Reeves as his brother.

Memorial Day and Anzac Day do not serve any anti-war function. They didn’t stop the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the War with Iraq or the Balkans conflict. In a strange way they let every person born after 1945 off the hook. We don’t see ourselves as potential war mongers; that was our fathers’ and grandfathers’ thing.

So just because wars still exist and are being started, that means that the function of a memorial day is wrong? Since a memorial day doesn’t stop other wars from coming into existence, it is automatically a bad thing?

War is terrible. And yet, there will ALWAYS be war, somewhere in the world. That’s why Memorial Days are so important.

Okay, you two. Take it to Great debates.

Hey, that’s my job. :slight_smile:

You’re right, dropzone. Sorry about the hijack. G. Nome just boggles my mind sometimes. I guess this was another one of those instances.

Actually, as usual, I can see her point as well as yours. There was a period in my life when I questioned the way Memorial Day was used.


Well, say you work 14 hours a day for ten years and finally save up enough money for a 2 week holiday overseas. You’ve never been there but they tell you it’s nice. So, there you are fast asleep in your hotel room early one morning when you’re awakened by the strange sound of a bugle. You look out the window into the gloom and see a group of guys in uniforms. The last time they saw anyone who looked like you they were on the end of a bayonet. They are remembering how many of their friends were killed by your grandparents. Your children start to cry. Do you want your money back or not?

G. Nome… what the f*ck are you blithering about?

And are you implying that soldiers from WWII haven’t seen Japanese since the war?

And to reiterate what Coldfire said, Memorial Day is the remember everyone, friend or foe, who died in battle, not matter how noble or stupid the motives behind the wars were. People died, leaving behind friends and families who love and miss them. Many, I daresay most, soldiers regret having to kill people, having caused so much sorrow for so many people. For some, Memorial Day is a time to remember friends and family; for others, it is a time to atone for the horrors of war.

You’re a Kiwi? Odd comment then… given as how NZ troops didn’t fight in the Pacific in WWII.

Troops from our country fought through North Africa and through Italy, and the major focus of ANZAC day is the fallen in Europe in two world wars, sadness and a desire not to do it again.

I guess it’s a case of YMMV, but I have never detected anti-Japanese feeling here on ANZAC day.

Those pictures of my Daddy in Guadalcanal in 1942 must be fakes. Damn. And I thought he walked the Thin Red Line.

  1. The Allies won the war. We commemorate war because we were the winners and not the losers. We see everything through the eyes of victors.

  2. Until the losers line up with the winners like recalcitrant children before God Memorial Day will always be about conflict rather than resolution.

  3. In the 21st Century how can you expect people of the age of say, Homer, Waterj2 and Spoofe to feel empathy of the sort you require? I am twice their age and World War 2 was a distant and historical thing for me. Memorial Days are about accounts of ancient battles and not about taking personal responsibility for our human natures.

As a New Zealander (European decent) who works with Japanese co-workers every day I feel I can offer a few opinions on how they react to ANZAC Day.

First is puzzelment, Why should you give money to Soldiers (fund raising for old soldiers is a major part of ANZAC Day) war is a bad thing.

Then you explain it to them and they understand very quickly. Looking after old people and respecting the dead are very important parts of Japanese culture.

One of my Japanese managers wears his ANZAC Day Poppy with pride and sees no irony in it. He usually gets hassled by European workers in a friendly way but I don’t think he has ever got a bad reaction from the public. He understands what it stands for and I respect him for that.

You will never find a country more anti war than the Japanese. Two atomic bombs taught a very harsh lesson. All of the Japanese people I have talked to also see themselves removed from the events of WWII in much the same way as British people (and Aussies and NZers) see them selves as baing removed from the Boer War in which Empire forces conducted a very dirty war.

I know little about the German side of things but I know that during the recent 60th comemeration of the Battle of Crete the Germans veterans were unhappy about being excluded from official events. But then the bad feeling runs deep in Crete.