When it comes to being offended by perceived racism in movies, people can typically only complain. But when it comes to complaining about perceived racism in PBS-funded documentaries, people can go to Washington and expect something to be done about it. The latter is the case with a group of Latinos who are protestingKen Burns' upcoming doc series The War. The series, which focuses on World War II, apparently features no mention of the Hispanic contribution to the war, and the American GI Forum, a Hispanic veterans group, is trying to get that changed. But Burns' film is not a comprehensive look at the war in the way his The Civil Waror PBS' Vietnam: A Television History were. Instead it looks at WWII through the experiences of four American towns -- Waterbury, CT; Luverne, MN; Mobile, AL; and Sacramento, CA -- that perhaps had no Hispanic citizens or soldiers in them.

Because this is a PBS project, the U.S. government may be able to interfere. The American GI Forum is trying to get people to write in complaints to Congress, and last week the group's president met in Washington with other Latino leaders and the head of PBS. The public television organization is expected to make its official response next week. I guess that the most logical solution, if necessary, would be for Burns to add on a fifth town, possibly Corpus Christi, TX, that could feature stories from Latino vets. But then could any other excluded minority make a similar claim and be as justly accommodated? I wonder if Native Americans, for instance, are given ample exposure in Burns' doc. Heck, why not allow every town not chosen as the four featured to protest the injustice of being left out. How long would it take Burns to make a series that caters to every town in America? Surely longer than his 15-year contract with PBS would allow.
categories Features, Cinematical