Thursday, February 16, 2006

Go For Broke

A few years ago when the game Medal of Honor was released my friends mockingly referred to it as Kill The Japs. After seeing advertisements for the game I understood what my friends were talking about and I worried about the message being given to young gamers. Though I do not know the intricacies of this particular game, it seemed clear that the primary objective was to go to war with Japan and kill Japanese. Don't get me wrong here. I am not trying to deny the historical fact that Japan and America squared off in the Pacific during World War II. What I feared was that this game, along with films such as Pearl Harbor which had been released the year before, would create a renewed hostility toward people of Asian ancestry - a hostility that seems to resurface in America every so many years. In the wake of September 11th and with the heavy sense of national pride permeating throughout the country, I did not want to see a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

But after reflecting a little more about these Pacific war themed games and movies, what concerned me the most was that they would over shadow the great accomplishments of Asian Americans during that time. In the Philippines, for example, Filipino soldiers fought bravely alongside American forces to help liberate Japanese P.O.W. camps. And in Europe the 100th Battallion/ 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised entirely of Japanese Americans, took on German forces while becoming the most highly decorated unit in United States military history. However, by playing such games as Medal of Honor one would never know about these heroic World War II events involving people of Asian descent.

So my question tonight is why not games about the 442nd or the Filipino soldiers? In fact, I just recently saw a new game from the Call of Duty line called Big Red One which seems to follow the efforts of another legendary fighting unit during the war. What makes it so hard to create a game where true red-blooded Americans have Asian faces instead of white ones? Why not a remake of 1951's Go For Broke which told the story of the 442nd? How could a movie about proving your loyalty - your worth - to a country that has imprisoned your family not appeal to audiences? I thought Americans loved the underdog story?

To be fair, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that last year's World War II film The Great Raid paid tribute to the efforts of Filipinos during the raid of the Cabanatuan P.O.W. camp. However, as one viewer commented on, the advertising made the movie seem like a testosterone filled "'rah rah' flag waving fest." Its a shame that the true story behind this film did not take center stage during promotion and gain the attention that it deserved.

But the fact remains that America has trouble acknowledging that those who die in battle for this country are not just white good 'ol boys. It incenses me that much of our society forgets that in recent wars minorities have lost a disproportionate number their soldiers in combat. And for what? I have trouble at times seeing how we benefited from these ultimate sacrifices. Not only do these efforts get bypassed in history lessons but our communities, instead of receiving compensation, are smacked with some of the highest unemployment rates and incarceration rates in the country (but that's another story for another day). So besides paying homage to these Asian soldiers via movies, games and textbooks, I guess I'm simply asking America, as the popular hip hop saying goes, to "Recognize muthaf*#kers!"

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Blogger Jules said...

they ought to make a game involving the Philippine-american war of 1899-1901 where the likes of Arthur MacArthur and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders massacred 600,000-1M Filipinos... it would be a very cool game. they can even have bonus features like the water-cure torture and garotte torture...

11:58 PM  
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