Skip to comments.San Pedro Cancels "Tora, Tora, Tora" because it might offend Japanese-Americans (Barf Alert)
Posted on 11/12/2002 2:12:37 PM PST by FreedomCalls
Mixed feelings over San Pedro film event
NO SHOW: Insensitivity to Japanese-Americans is cited. Vets are stunned.
By Donna Littlejohn DAILY BREEZE
It was going to be a night to remember. Ushers dressed in World War II military uniforms, vintage cars pulling up to the curb, Pearl Harbor survivors and a recently restored 1940s military searchlight would be on hand Dec. 7 to greet the crowds at a special anniversary showing of Tora! Tora! Tora! at San Pedros historic Warner Grand Theatre.
The 1970 film a joint American and Japanese production is considered one of the most accurate depictions of events leading up to the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Expected to attract hundreds, the showing on the 61st anniversary of the attack was to serve as a fund-raiser for the Fort MacArthur Military Museum in San Pedro.
But now the show is off.
Why? Veterans and museum members say its simply a case of political correctness run amok.
While there was a previous theater booking for Dec. 7, according to theater manager Lee Sweet of the citys Department of Cultural Affairs, which manages the facility, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn concluded that the event would have been insensitive to the Japanese-American community.
I wanted to be very sensitive to the Japanese-American community, Hahn said. Dec. 7 is a tough day, especially for the second and third generations of Japanese-Americans. Why do we want to do something that makes it more difficult? The showing was planned this year to take the place of the Fort MacArthur Military Museums annual Pearl Harbor Day observance.
With World War II veterans passing from the scene or becoming too frail to attend the shrinking ceremony each year, volunteers were looking for a way to reach the wider community with their story.
Volunteer Bob Meza, an NBC engineer, said Warner Grand personnel initially told him no print of the film was available. Through his industry connections, though, Meza was able to get a print from a private collector for the special showing on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, at the 1930s-era movie theater in downtown San Pedro.
But objections from the city soon followed, Meza said, including liability concerns and then worries that the projection equipment wasnt adequate.
Those were all resolved by volunteers, who agreed to carry the insurance for the film.
After that, volunteers said, city officials told them two weeks ago that the event couldnt be held because it might be offensive to members of the Japanese-American community.
Hahn, who was asked to intervene on the museums behalf to show the film on Dec. 7, said that after talking with Japanese-American friends, including state Assemblyman George Nakano, D-Torrance, she agreed with the citys concerns.
Sweet said he didnt suggest the movie would be insensitive. He said it was because the theater already had something happening that day.
The city, as far as Im aware, is not in the business of censorship, he said. The date was booked.
The theater, he said, originally was going to show the film Boys Town but now has set aside that night for Mayor James Hahns community holiday party. Volunteers contend the date was open according to the theaters Web site.
Next year (on Dec. 7) is open and as far as Im concerned, the first yell gets it, Sweet said, inviting the group to reapply.
Hahn said she was told by the city that there was a previous booking for Dec. 7 this year. But Sweet also told her he had concerns about the sensitivity issue, Hahn said.
Seeking another venue
Museum volunteers, who already had begun printing invitations, are now scrambling to find another venue to show the film.
The citys made their decision, said Joe Janesic, vice president of the volunteer board of directors at the museum. The association isnt insensitive to the Japanese-American community. This is simply the best movie on the subject.
In fact, Tora! Tora! Tora! was criticized by some as being sympathetic to the Japanese position when it was released 32 years ago. The movie was co-produced by American and Japanese directors and attempted to tell the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in a documentary fashion from both sides.
Volunteers said a Japanese-American newspaper in Los Angeles expressed support for the screening, saying relatives of many of the films extras would like an opportunity to see it.
Its a G-rated movie, Janesic said. They show it in high schools and colleges to teach history.
Veterans, he said, are up in arms over the citys refusal.
Ive had a lot of calls from VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) people who were looking forward to turning out to see this film, Janesic said.
A political hot potato
Its a political hot potato, said World War II Navy veteran Joe Stecker of Wilmington. All were asking is for the space to show this, and were being refused because it offends someone else.
Hahn said the movie isnt the problem, but rather the events planned around it.
I was told they were going to have 1940s swing dancing and bring in old cars, Hahn said. Its just not really a cause for celebration.
The evening was never planned as a celebration, Janesic said.
How could anybody think we would ever dare do that? Janesic said. This is not a time to celebrate. Its a time to remember.
It should be a time to reflect on those who sacrificed, Stecker said.
This is a commemoration of the date and the people who died there, he said. But I cant get that through to these politicians.
Organizers said there were no plans for dancing.
Weve made that clear to them 100 times, Janesic said. All were going to do is show up at 5 p.m., pull out some 1941 restored searchlights, open the box office and have guys in uniform as ushers. We dont have the people, the money or the time (to do more), quite frankly.
Hahn said the program would be fine on any other night but Dec. 7, but organizers said doing it on another date misses the point.
Hahn said shes taken lots of heat for the decision, but still thinks the program would be inappropriate on the anniversary of the attack.
People here lost their property, they lost their families, right here in San Pedro, she said of the local Japanese-American community. My father was a veteran of the war, and I was raised to be very supportive of veterans. I just wanted to be very sensitive to the Japanese-American community.
And what is there to be offended about? "Tora, tora, tora" was a movie that portrays the true events of Dec. 7, that the raid was NOT intended to be a sneak attack, and how a series of accidental circumstances led to the myth that the Japanese attacked without warning.
Subject Dec 7th
I applaud your stance on this issue. Liberalism and political correctness must be allowed to rear it's ugly head as often as possible so the voters can see through right to the core of your radical ideology. Keep it up... I'll be dancing in the streets when we have a 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate.
By the way, I hope people on FR, start funneling their anger at PC idiot Americans, and not, as they are apt to, get confused and yammer on about 'the japs'. This is not about 'the japs'. The War is over and America won. This is about telling the truth about an historical event and hypersensitivity by American liberals, most of them guilt-laden WHITE people.
They, the PC crybaby libs, insult the brave 442nd in Europe, Japanes-Americans, who were just as American as the next guy in the foxholes.
I am 'offended' that they chose to slap our soldiers and sailors from all races in the face with this latest PC outrage.
How much do you want to bet that the people who cancelled this movie have never seen it?
Telephone and fax numbers:
San Pedro office:
City Hall office:
Amazing. Somehow in the late 1960s, Americans and Japanese were able to put this film together without any reports of hurt feelings on either side. Today, however, why... that movie might make someone feel *uncomfortable*.
Cancelled due to a conflicting event? Suuure.
I recall the Confederate Air Force (now the Commemorative Air Force) being pressured into skipping its "Hiroshima" aerial program, featuring the only flying B-29, due to similar concerns. The odd thing is, the same people who were upset about the non-nuclear "mushroom cloud" were all cheering during the CAF's "Tora, Tora, Tora" "reenactment". It seems they approve of the way the war in the Pacific began, but not the way it ended. That being the case, why is anyone concerned about the movie?
Maybe it's more the "time-warp" thing, with all the period uniforms, automobiles and such. That might stir up feelings of national pride and patriotism... can't have that.