Friday, July 13, 2007

Ken Burns gets pushed around

Morgan Freeman had a conversation with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes.

How can we get rid of racism?

"Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man," Freeman says to Wallace. "And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You wouldn't say, 'Well, I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.' You know what I'm sayin?"

I love Morgan Freeman. I love the fact that he is a powerful actor, and a powerful person. If we actually lived by this quote, the world would be a better place. Period.

That might explain why the world in it's current form, sucks.

It is a sure sign of the Apocalypse when Ken Burns, one of the greatest documentary film makers of our time, has to re-edit his film, The War, because he doesn't have enough Latino representation.

Yes, I'm really not kidding.

The War is a documentary about World War 2 that is slated for a late September release on PBS. PBS, Burns, and a bunch of Latino advocate lawyers met and worked on an agreement to add sections on the film that portray the plight of the Latino soldier. Oh, and it had to be Burns that did the research and edit too, because God knows that documentarian Ken Burns has a history of slighting minorities and must pay penance for his sins. And get this, the Latino groups are still not satisfied because they actually want entire film re-edited from the beginning. With all that primary source information, all that musical score, all those voice's just plain disgusting.

Ken Burns' actions of backing down set two disturbing precedents. First, it continues to show that race is becoming a trump card that is used by special interest groups looking for some play. World War 2 isn't about certain groups of people that fought in the war, it's about the Americans that fought in the war. That would include all nationalities and all colors. Mention the harsh conditions, the discrimination, and the valor of minority soldiers, but this focus on specific groups becomes the equivalent of a sixth grade classroom; you had to help out one person, now you need to address the others who say "gimmie". The issue doesn't become about America, it becomes about factions that want something else. Malcolm isn't Black History, Chavez isn't Latino History, and Stanton isn't Women's History. It's all American History.

The second bad precedent is addressed well by Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here's PBS' most important filmmaker, signed to a long-term exclusive deal, whose vision this time (and next?) could be altered by another group's "interest and enthusiasm."

Damn right we should question PBS, and Paula Kerger, the CEO of that once proud network. Does this mean that every time an artist wants to paint a portrayal of society that said artist must get permission from every person on the street with an agenda?

We are settling in weird territory, again (Imus), and this issue of race being waived around as the final domino needs to stop.
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