Shows: January 27, 2009

Photo for 'Gran Torino: Eastwood's Film About Hmong Immigrants'
Gran Torino

Japan: Selling War in the Land of the Peace Constitution

Japan is mired in an economic crisis after a decade dominated by the governments of free-trade loving, Iraq War-supporting Junichiro Koizumi and his like-minded successors. But unlike in the U.S., the leader the Japanese elected this fall—prime minister Taro Aso—is an unabashed conservative and nationalist. To sell a militarist program in a country with a "peace" constitution, the military has enlisted cuddly pop culture mascot Prince Pickles, plus flirtatious posters and music festivals. Tonight longtime foreign policy analyst John Feffer explains what the PR campaign tells us about attitudes toward the military in Japan.

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Thailand: New Government, New Era?

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Later in the hour we turn our attention to Thailand, where a new government was elected in December, after months of raucous mass demonstrations that virtually paralyzed the country. The new government is the first in a decade not to be dominated by Thaksin Shinawatra. Even after his ouster as prime minister in 2006, Shinawatra had continued—except for a year of military rule--to be the kingmaker of Thailand. Now that the kingmaker is dead, what's next for Thailand? Southeast Asia scholar Kevin Hewison will join us.

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Gran Torino: Eastwood's Film About Hmong Immigrants

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Finally, stay with us tonight for a discussion of Clint Eastwood's critically acclaimed film Gran Torino, a drama of race relations and gang violence set among the Hmong immigrant community in working class Detroit. The film is being hailed as "one of the top ten films of 2008" (American Film Institute); Eastwood received nominations from the Critics' Choice Awards and Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association for Best Actor. But its real significance may be as a gesture toward what organizer and scholar Scott Kurashige calls "truth and reconciliation," through the critical questioning and atonement of an American icon of white supremacy and imperial power. Tonight Scott Kurashige and Eric Tang help us unpack the film.

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This program is brought to you by Andrew Hsiao, Leyla Mei and Maia Ramnath of the APF collective.

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