A Fine Line Between Stupid And Clever

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Ken Burns “The War”

Posted by bmac on September 27, 2007

I’ve been watching this all week, and while it’s getting a lot of criticism from conservatives (some justified), I’m gonna let it play out before I dismiss it outright.

This was made by a liberal, for PBS. So ya gets what ya gets.

For me, episode 3 was the worst offender so far. It focused a lot of time on the racism of the 40’s. Yeah, we all know Ken, racism was common then. It was a different time, a different world, we’ve all changed. My beef is, this stuff has no relevance to the story being told. Everything comes to a screeching halt, so we can all reflect on the fact that racism is bad.  Harping on and on about segregated troops does not move the story forward one iota. Segregated or not, all the soldiers served their country, let’s go from there.

My next problem with this doc is, it seems almost to revel in American incompetence, at least in the early stages of the war. This is where I’m conflicted. If this is to be a comprehensive documentary, then yeah, I think this stuff needs to be addressed. We made a lot of huge mistakes in WW2. A lot. But that’s going to happen in a war of that magnitude, a war so big we can’t even begin to comprehend anything like it today. But Allied victories, which were many, are treated by this doc with a shrug, or a “Yes we won the battle, but at a horrible cost.”

There was some redemption in episode 4, which showed the brutality of the Japanese prison camps, and especially their brutality to civilian prisoners. Not that I like seeing that stuff, but let’s focus on the pure evil our men were dying to defeat, instead of our shortcomings, which were few.

It’s still pretty fascinating though, and I’ll watch the whole thing, and I’m especially curious how they’ll treat the finding of the first few concentration camps.

I also have this horrible habit of constantly editing my posts. I guess that makes it more fun to come back and read again.

8 Responses to “Ken Burns “The War””

  1. eddiebear said

    My grandfather helped free Bergen Belsen. I only learned this after he died a few years ago. Even my dad was amazed to hear what he did, because he never mentioned it. My dad is 60 and still cannot watch this doc. That’s how powerful it is to him, especially since he has a son (my brother) in Iraq now.

  2. bmac said

    How did you learn about it? Did other relatives tell you?
    That’s one of the reasons I’m conflicted on this doc, on the one hand, it comes across as lefty anti-war, but on the other, it’s really showing the horrors of WW2, that we don’t usually see. After a week of watching this, I completely understand why these guys never talked about it.
    I also have an infinite amount of respect for those men, I always have, but even more so now.
    Pleae thank your brother for me.

  3. Ed said

    I have to disagree with your decision to caution yourself between Ken’s liberalism and the quality of this doc. I watched the entire thing from beginning to end and have to say it is by far some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. It’s content is the truth. It was a shame to see the black soldiers going home after places like Okinawa and being forced to sit in the back of the bus. It was a fact and we have to be able to say to ourselves “That is really fuched up” in order to never make a mistake like that again. I think it was stated that way to show the difference between men in combat getting blood transfusions from black men and not giving a shit about it and the easy to do racism that was happening at home. Same for the Zips… I mean Japs in the internment camps, it’s fuched up but it was the reality of the time. It neither condemns us now or makes me think we should let the slobs down in Club Gitmo go. The death in the show was unbelievable. The might, will and power of the US military was stunning. The support of the war by our citizens was alien. But the fact remains this doc was superb.

  4. bmac said

    Fair enough, it was good. I’ll stand by my belief that the racial element was patronising. We have moved so far beyond the racism of the 40’s, that it’s a moot point. The only real “value” of highlighting it,in the extended manner they did, was opening old wounds.
    They gave little attention to the true racism of the Germans, and the brutality to, and suffering of, the Jews at their hands. More time was devoted to Japanese internment camps in America, than to the true evil that were the German concentration camps.

  5. Ed said

    Point taken. However the doc was from the viewpoint of American soldiers and their families, not the jews. At the time most soldiers had little or no idea what the Germans were doing, not to mention the lack of info for the American people. As far as the racism goes, I think that it is an open wound and as long as there are people still alive that can say that they were in the Jap camps, or that they were made to go to the back of the bus that it is not a moot point, but one that should be remembered and discussed so it is not lost to the annals of time. History goes to the winners, so it’s important to hear their voice.

    What I really liked about the doc is that it did look through the eyes of the American men and women and not through those like the liberal left who want us to only see things their way in our current situation. More time needs to be spent getting the stories of today’s soldiers into the main stream and maybe the moonbats and truther voices will have the volume turned down on them. War is hell, there is no getting around that, it’s blood and guts and hate and bullets. That is their story and I’m glad and saddened to hear it. My grandfather’s picture was shown in the doc. He passed away 8 years ago and while I sat on the couch his smiling face was suddenly looking at me through the screen. He drove a supply truck on the front lines of the eastern front. He told me stories and this doc was as close to those as I’ve ever heard. At the time I didn’t believe them all, but there he stood looking at me as if to say “I told you so…”

    Great discussion, I really enjoy it. Take care and talk to you soon.

  6. bmac said

    Thanks Ed.

  7. Ed said

    No problem… jackass… Snap Crack Wooosh… Ti Kwan Leap!

  8. bmac said

    You funny Ed Glubelman! You clack me up!

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