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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

December 4, 2004

Written by C.N.

A Movie That Will Live in Infamy

Originally posted May 2001

The movie Pearl Harbor gets a warm reception from the public but a cool one from critics. When the movie first came out and before I actually saw it, I initially reiterated the criticisms that many Asian American organizations had about it. These included that there were virtually no Japanese American or Asian American characters in the movie, despite the fact that at the time, one-third of Hawai’i’s population was Asian American, including many who helped to fight the attackers and who helped care for injured. Most important, I was wary that it might lead to even more hostility and hatred toward the Japanese American community and by default (again based on the stereotype that all Asians are the same), all Asian Americans.

Not quite in infamy © Disney

Now, after finally seeing the movie and after the events of 9/11, I see the movie in a slightly different light. I still stand by those initial criticisms. However, I do not think that the portrayals of Japanese characters was as bad or harmful as I had feared. They could have been portrayed with a little more depth but overall, it could have been a lot worse.

But the more important interpretation of Pearl Harbor may be its portrayal of how Americans came together and fought together against a common enemy. Of course that kind of sentiment can go too far, such as arbitrarily imprisoning thousands of Japanese Americans. But when done right, national unity can be a very moving and powerful force.

I just hope that we have learned the lessons of those events 60 years ago so that while we work together to fight a common enemy, we prevent the same kinds of excesses and injustices against innocent Americans of all backgrounds today.


Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "A Movie That Will Live in Infamy" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2004/12/a-movie-that-will-live-in-infamy/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=4

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