Yankee Doodle Propaganda
The movie Titanic also took liberties with the truth: flashlights and loogies in 1912 were just the tip of the candy-coated iceberg. But still, you didn't find yourself wanting to "get that iceberg" when the boat sinks into the North Atlantic.
Boy, is Pearl Harbor a movie for this White House or what? It's so spectacularly red, white, and blue; a real Yankee Doodle blockbuster that brings us the horrible events of December 7, 1941 back in sumptuous Technicolor splendor! We get to cinematically ride bombs as they crash into the decks of our American Naval forces; witness men tossed into the air, metal gouging flesh, people running in terror from the bullets sprayed by enemy planes whooshing overhead—woo-weeeeee, what a summer movie thrill!
Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay's fantastic, action-packed cartoon, complete with a latex-stuffed president, is a big, fat, dangerous salute to fascist ideology. I know there's a love story pasted in there somewhere, a sorta MGM musical plot without the sappy songs and tap-dancing (which might have made it better), but I'm not touching Pearl Harbor's Hollywood imitation—just too stinky, friends. It's the fact that this movie is outright propaganda that makes it so utterly disturbing. It gets it dates and fatalities right (3,000 perish, which is gut-wrenching in itself), but the rest is pure Hollywood hot air, contrived to sell tickets to the masses. Okay—so what else is new? The movie Titanic also took liberties with the truth: flashlights and loogies in 1912 were just the tip of the candy-coated iceberg. But still, you didn't find yourself wanting to "get that iceberg" when the boat sinks into the North Atlantic. I'm not saying "get them Japs" is how people felt, but when an audience applauds the idea that an enemy deserves to die, well then, you're hooked—it's time to go to war.
The true political climate of 1941 is only sprinkled here and there, in the form of clichéd wisdom from the mouths of character actors. But Pearl Harbor doesn't even attempt to tell the tale of our entry into World War II with any sort of broadened perspective (except to show the mass destruction of the harbor from a variety of wide-angle FX shots), nor the truth in any way, shape or Hollywood formula. Absent is any objective point of view to shed some real light on this senseless act, except that it's scripted so that our heroes can man their planes to blow up and kill a few for good ol' Uncle Sam. There's nothing but the razzle-dazzle of its comic book dialogue and the intensity of its manipulative, heart-tugging score to tell the tale of military aggression at its finest. What's left is a twisted historical parody that embraces an American ideology that claimed NO responsibility for anything except "an eye for an eye" type retribution.
This is filmmaking at its most irresponsible best. But still, I know a few who told me I should just watch the film and have a good time, let it roll like water off a duck's ass—in short, that's entertainment. I don't buy it. We've come a long way, baby, and many have fought to keep our history books on the up and up (someday "his"-story will become the voice of the many, not just the few), and Hollywood needs to take a harder look at its responsibility in rewriting the facts, just to break box office. In the long run, the weakened thread of tolerance takes a beating, and we take a few steps backwards, almost to the point of welcoming McCarthy back into the fold.
Sure, I sound extreme, somewhat over-the -top and damn near EXPLOSIVE; but Pearl Harbor left many cheering for the old ways, many folks applauding for revenge—yikes almighty. It's setting the stage for our national tolerance for war. Now, with an administration that supports our building a more aggressive military complex, do you think Pearl Harbor is just another summer blockbuster flick or a glorified mega-million dollar call to arms? I bet enrollment in our military goes up a few notches, and if nothing else, I bet it plays the White House, folks.