truyen ma co that | truyen nguoi lon | lau xanh | anh khieu dam | truyen co giao thao | doc truyen kiem hiep | tai game | game mobile | tai game iwin | thu dam | sms kute | anh chup len | tai game ionline | tai game danh bai | tai game mien phi


Know Your Enemy

The usual lecture of my thrice-weekly Modern Japanese History class was interrupted the other day. My professor decided he would share with us a slice of the World War II era American perceptions of Japanese society.

Enmeshed in brutal and racially-infused Pacific-based war with the Japanese, the American government took to one of the great political tools, one that hit its most flagrant peak in the twentieth century: propaganda.

Towards the end of 1944, the U.S. government contracted famed director Frank Capra to put together a film that could introduce the American people to the Japanese, who, at the time, were even less known and understood to most Americans than they are now.

The result was “Know Your Enemy,” a 63 minute collection of Japanese newsreels and U.S. military films narrated by American actor John Huston, leaving the audience with nuanced half-truths, implicating assumptions and poorly researched declarations leading my Japanese classmates to wild laughter. The Japanese were involved in similarly heinous anti-American, self-aggrandizing racial superiority, but it always stings a bit to see the foolishness of U.S. mistakes of the past.

Watching the film made by Capra, yes, the Frank Capra that directed It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was fairly troubling. Probably for the best, in the end, the film was not released in American movie theaters, as, upon completion, the war was in its final stages and Capra’s negative portrayal of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito did not fit the U.S. military’s decision to offer Hirohito clemency from war crimes.

It was, in the end, released as an academic tool and acknowledgement of past foolishness, excused by wartime, but it certainly made me, as so much can, think about the Truth, yes, Truth, in the information I find and news I absorb. For anyone who has followed my writing, you know that is often impenetrable, stuffed with facts and figures, historical data and future projections. I try to imagine being an American moviegoer in the 1940s and deciding to see Capra’s “Know Your Enemy.” In the end I would watch an hour of innocuous video, altered by the constant narration labeling the Japanese people as “sinister” and hopeless in their “obedience for their emperor’s command.”

It portrayed the 12,000 mile-long, 120 mile-wide mainland Japan as a home to a subhuman animal of ferocious expansionism. Now, the film’s focus on “Hakko Ichiu,” the Japanese slogan of imperialism in the 1930s was, perhaps rightly, viciously condemning. There is no hiding the evils of Imperial Japan, but how arbitrary and overhanded Capra’s film became, clearly showing writing from a man who had never been to the country. Today, most Americans under 60-years-old, I would guess, might think of the Japanese as a peaceful people. How worrisome the power indoctrination is. I will avoid falling into any blind and formulaic blathering of the wonders and importance of education. Just think about what you’re being told and, for goodness sake, cite your sources! I can’t imagine where Frank Capra was getting some of his information.

Jaa mata,

Comments are closed.