14 May 2020


Higaisha Ishiki: The Japanese term for "victim's consciousness" and pertains often to the sense that the peace loving Japanese were pushed into being noble warriors.

Watched the Emmerich WWII drama last night with the wife. We both liked it actually and had a good time but something has been eating at me all day today. I'll get to that shortly. Important to note my wife is Chinese and that the Chinese people have a different take on WWII and the Japanese. At best we can say it is a less forgiving attitude of the events of the time. I think it is important to realize this, that there are more than two points of view on any situation in the world. The American view vs. the point of view of whomever is on the other side. For example the Vietnam War. It is still seen as some sort of lone American military excursion for which the US is entirely culpable on on counts. But the truth is it was a UN led operation and other countries have their own histories of the war and even their own movies. Both Australia and South Korea have made Vietnam War films with stories that focus on their troops and their loses. The reason I bring up this point is because this movie was okay in a big budget b-movie fashion. It had the feel and vibe of one of those war epics that may have starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda or Charlton Heston. In fact over all it was better than most of those in terms of the special effects (no stock footage) and editing and such. Some reviewers are pretty picky in these areas and I think they are unfair. In terms of acting it is okay enough. Woody Harrelson and Dennis Quaid seem to be the big names and the rest are a lot of faces you spend time trying to place from other movies or TV shows. But not a big deal deal there. In the end we liked the film and found it rousing and exciting in places even. At spots even rooting for the "good guys", just like in old time movies. When there were good guys and bad guys. Maybe the good guys weren't always good and the bad guys weren't always bad but they pretty much stood firmly on one side of the fence or the other. Maybe the bad guys didn't call themselves bad of course, but the good guys knew they were evil and that in the end an event like WWII was a battle between good and evil. Or so you would think, right? But in the topsy turvy world of today maybe that isn't case at all.

I am not a historian but I have read a few books on WWII on both the European and Pacific theaters. I have seen a crap load of old movies and these days there are so many short and/or long documentaries on YouTube to watch. Most of what I saw in the film rang enough bells and seemed close enough to what I remember to make it solid enough for a Hollywood movie. One expects a certain license with a film that is going to skim over pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Doolittle raid before finally getting to the titular event, the Battle of Midway. There seems to be little doubt that after Midway, only about a half a year into the war with Japan, the eventual outcome favored the US. Japan continued to fight to the bitter end either out of fearsome bravery or reckless, face saving  stupidity. Maybe a little of both but maybe more of the latter.

The film to its credit is not anti-American and does not portray the Americans in any bad light as so many war films do any more. No unarmed prisoners were executed by American troops for a change. The story didn't go on preaching about how women were treated unfairly or black sailors were discriminated against. It also showed the Japanese military in a way that gave them a bit of sympathy and even understanding. I feel Hollywood has for the most part avoided the Pacific War conflict in films in the last few decades, with a couple exceptions, and it has down so out of fear of "stereotyping" the Japanese military of the time. As if that is some greater crime than what they,  the Japs*, were guilty of. Oh in reviews many pussies are more offended by that term being used in the wartime context than by American sailors being killed while still in their bunks sleeping at Pearl Harbor. And so then what about the "woke slap in the face"? What is that all about? At the very end of the film's credits there is the statement:

The film is dedicated to the American and Japanese sailors who fought at Midway. The sea remembers its own.

This is a totally What The Fuck remark and for me, and others, and it abruptly pulled the carpet out from under our feet. This movie was released on Veterans Day even and why it had to include a "woke" ass commemoration of our wartime enemy who killed thousands of American soldiers and sailors in a chicken shit sneak attack is beyond me. Roland Emmerich seems to feel since he is German it allows hi to see the "other side"of the story or something. Here is a quote by Emmerich explaining his reasoning for humanizing the enemy (as if Hollywood has never done that before) and including the dedication at the end  to the enemy:

When asked about the rationale for his portrayal, Emmerich replied: “Well, it’s maybe because I’m German. I know this from my father who was in [the Second World War] as a 17-year-old. It’s just like, all people do their duty and do what they have to do. It’s the politicians who screw up and start wars, and not the normal soldiers… I didn’t want a war movie that kind of reinforces old enemy images… They were as brave and noble as anybody. Their society is quite different to the American society… Nevertheless, I didn’t want to make them you know, kinda like bad guys, because they weren’t bad guys.”

Yes, they were bad guys. They were THE bad guys of THAT time. Along with the Germans and Italians. And the Fins sort of. In other places he makes it clear his dad (above quote) wasn't a member of the Nazi Party. He just served in the Nazi Army. Not the same thing you know. did his noble duty. Yup, that's what he says. He also says that the Japs were as brave and noble as the American, British and Australian troops they waged a savage war against. That is bullshit. They were the bad guys and fuck them. At the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at Midway are two types of soldiers and sailors: Brave Americans and a bunch of Japs. As the credit cues roll by take note of one that says the bloodthirsty Japs killed over 250,000 Chinese farmers and villagers as punishment for helping the crews of the Doolittle raid who parachuted into the Chinese countryside. 250,000 just for that alone. See? Bad guys. Evil. It is a movie worth seeing but there are, of course, some mixed up unAmerican ideas all through it. But the movie was made, ultimately, by liberal Hollywood by a german guy whose father may have shot Americans and British soldiers for all we know. This is as good as it gets anymore folks. And it will only get worse. I personally would like to see a film about the Bataan Death March and how cruel and evil the Japs really were to the prisoners. But these days you can't do that. You can make another film about Japanese living in the US during the war being interned in internment camps (or concentration camps as the cry babies like to call them now)but you cannot make a realistic movie about how the Japs treated their prisoners of war. That would, for some reason be racism. The world is needlessly upside down anymore. You cannot have good guys vs. bad guys. Either both sides are bad (especially the American side) or, in this case, both sides are good. I can see a war between good and bad. I can see a war between bad and bad. But I just do not have the vision of Roland Emmerich to envision a war between between good and good.

* And yes I think it is okay to use a derogatory term to describes one's wartime enemy who is hellbent on killing you and who you are equally hellbent on killing. Hopefully you kill them first and in greater numbers. That the the term is on par with the N word is absurd.  I have lived a quarter of my life in Asia (and am am living in an Asian country now) and three of those years were spent in Japan. The Japanese of today are not the same animal that they were back then, as are modern Germans. But back then they were Nazis and Japs. And while modern Germany has made great strides to try and atone for and distance itself from past misdeeds Japan really has not. They are the poor, poor misunderstood victims and their lovely cities, much of them made of paper and wood, were firebombed and nuked. Executed war criminals are still venerated as near religious deities, war crimes against the Chinese (like Nanjing) and Filipinos are denied or dismissed and a new crop of jingoistic Japanese war films, mostly unheard of outside Japan,  shows the evil Japs in a brave new light. Forced into saving their motherland by outside forces like America. And this is hinted at the beginning of Midway. Who says history is only written by the winners?


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