You Don't Know Jap

There's nothing more satisfying in the world than hearing a white guy say that he's sorry.

Every year during Memorial Day weekend, Hollywood throws the American public a big budget summer behemoth to eat up, and we do, no matter how bad the movie actually is. In fact, The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 set a record opening gross of $90 million during this very weekend in 1997. No other holiday has such drawing power, with the exception of maybe Independence Day.

Now, I'm no better than the rest of America in resisting the temptation of the "Memorial Day movie." I'll admit to camping out for tickets and good seats to sub-par fare like Godzilla and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. What can I say? I love summer spectacles.

But there's something about this Pearl Harbor movie that seems…wrong.

Maybe it's the fact that the movie was made by the producing team of Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. Or maybe it's just a bad idea to sensationalize history, especially tragic history. Then again, Titanic went on to win the Oscar® for "best picture."

True, a shitload of World War II movies have come and gone over the years without much fuss, but most of them had actual points to make about war, even the weaker ones like Saving Private Ryan. Pearl Harbor, according to Bruckheimer, "uses the tragedy as the backdrop for a passionate [love] triangle. The Japanese surprise attack only takes up about 40 minutes of the film's two-and-a-half-hour running time." Using a natural disaster as the setting of a love story is one thing. Using a day that will live in 'famy is another.

It doesn't help that the Pearl Harbor ad campaign plays up the war aspect of the movie and not the romance that Bruckheimer oh so wants to emphasize. Everywhere you go – on buses, at bus stops, on billboards, plastered to sides of office buildings – you see paintings of scenes from the movie. One such scene shows a woman outside doing her laundry while planes loom above. We're supposed to react by hating the Japanese who are about to ruin this poor innocent woman's life.

What's more, Disney went the distance to fashion other ads reminiscent of 1940s war propaganda, encouraging citizens everywhere to "join the fight!" First off, World War II ended a long time ago, and secondly, I'm all for patriotism, but do we really need to rekindle anti-Asian sentiment, especially after the recent spy plane incident?

Marketing hoopla over Pearl Harbor reached all the way to the U.S. Senate last week, when an ethics committee nixed a studio plan for a special Who Wants to Be a Millionaire episode in which stars from the movie and several war veteran politicians (including Bob Dole and John McCain) would appear as contestants, playing for the World War II Memorial fund. For once, Congress does something right.

The movie trailer would have us believe that "it was the end of innocence, and the dawn of a nation's greatest glory." Let us not forget that four years after this attack, the U.S. bombed the fuck out of Japan…twice…with NUCLEAR WEAPONS…killing 40 times as many people as the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. Let us also not forget the thousands of Japanese U.S. immigrants who were stripped of their property and forced into internment camps in southwest America. Glory, my ass.

And that there's the problem with Pearl Harbor. The movie gets you caught up in its distortion of history before you have time to take in the full awfulness of what it is it has you caught up in. It's no mere coincidence that Martin Sheen, the fake POTUS, does the voice-overs for the movie's television commercials. I don't think Disney realizes the key difference between the Pacific and European WWII theaters: the Jews didn't avenge their loss by irrationally killing a bunch of Germans. Thus, Spielberg has a right to demonize the enemy.

Given all I've said, on May 25, you'll still find me at the local movieplex, waiting in line to consume the wonderful world of Disney. So I'm a hypocrite. Hey, it beats watching ASC presentations on tape.

I caught the West Wing season finale last night, and I have to say, it was kind of a disappointment. Re-election just isn't as exciting as a shooting. Plus, the episode featured a ridiculously relentless assault of Aaron Sorkin clichés: body gestures, flashbacks, rain, religion, and the obligatory sharp-tongued monologue. I thought the most interesting part of the show was the commercials. They ran one for Spielberg's new movie A.I., in which Haley Joel Osment plays a robot. What a stretch. There was a plug for Extra too that said (get this), "O.J. Simpson speaks out on the Blake murder. Next Extra." Beautiful.

In other news, Michael Stipe is gay, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were added to the Wango Tango lineup, and everybody else is fuckin' done with school. Argh!

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Which California newspaper sucks the most? (out of 13 votes)
Los Angeles Times • 0 votes • 0%
Campa Palo Alto Daily News • 10 votes • 71%
San Francisco Examiner • 2 votes • 14%
USA Today • 2 votes • 14%
You people have obviously never read the Los Angeles Times, if you read at all.

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