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October 8, 2015

Burns goes back to documentary after protests

by Adam Finley, posted Apr 11th 2007 7:25PM

ken burnsYou'll recall my recent post where I said Ken Burns documentary about World War II angered some in the Latino community for its lack of coverage of Latinos who fought in the war. Well, Burns apparently took the protest to heart and has decided to not only go back and retool his 14-hour documentary to include the overlooked footage, but has also hired a Latino producer to help him create the new content. The War is scheduled to hit PBS in September. The series will focus on four communities in the United States and how they were impacted by the war.

As I said in my previous post, it has to be almost impossible to make a documentary about something as substantial as World War II and not inadvertently leave some stuff out. I do think it's admirable that Burns has decided to go back and amend his documentary, but at the same time I wonder what else he may have overlooked, and whether or not more people will come forward to accuse his documentary of being incomplete. People have the right to protest, of course, but I imagine pleasing everyone is almost impossible.

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Burns is not technically "amending" his film. The pieces he's going to shoot with Hispanic people will serve as bookends between breaks in the series. I think it's craven of PBS and overly decent of Burns to agree to this quasi-blackmail, but Burns has admirably found a way to do it without disrupting the integrity of his series.

P.S. -- Will there be gay soldiers interviewed? Hmm...I thought not. Only the "acceptable" groups with the loudest voices. Which is why things like this should be above identity politics.

April 12 2007 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the contributions of left handed people? Are redheads being slighted? How about the heroic soldiers from all of the Springfields in the US? Surely, they deserve being singled out.

Burns partially brought this on himself. As much as I enjoyed his docs on the Civil War and baseball, he seems to work from a checklist of groups he must mention in every episode. I realize women played baseball but .... come on.

April 12 2007 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So, can we look forward to added material for every ethnicity that had a hand in that conflict? Did the original give special attention to any groups that prompted whining from Latino identity activists? Seeing as this was regarded as a nearly global conflict, we're looking at a documentary stretching out longer than the war itself.

April 12 2007 at 4:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes its very important to segregate history by race. Very conducive to the goal of a color blind society, right up there with our racial history months and racial chapters in our history textbooks.

April 11 2007 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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