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to the exhibitionism that now passes for “reality TV.” The series’ second offering, scheduled for June 26, tells a different kind of truth. If most films replicate the texture of a novel, The Sweetest Sound is an essay, a whimsical meditation on names and identity. The average daily edition of the New York Times contains 2300 names, notes director Man Berliner, who, admitting that he actually counted, confesses his obsession with onomastics. Berliner interrogates strangers and acquaintances about their reactions to his name, and he indulges in ego-surfingcompulsive exploration of the Internet for versions of his name. Like most of the rest of us, evenor especiallyif named Chang, the most common moniker on the planet, Berliner cherishes a sense of his own uniqueness, and he cannot abide the possibility that others might share his particular name. He discovers at least 12 other Mans, including another director and another photographer, who could, like our director and John F. Kennedy, proclaim: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” He flies a dozen other Alan Berliners, all white middle-class, middle-aged men, in to his apartment in New York for a comic confrontation over the ways in which names shape personal identity. “Does my name make me who I am, or do I determine the meaning of my name?” asks the Man Berliner who directed The Sweetest Sound, as well as an earlier P.O.V. offering named Nobody’s Business. “Would life have been different with another name?” The Sweetest Sound probably would not have been the same if its creator had been called Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, or Mud. More than 90 percent of all human beings have died without leaving a name behind, notes Berliner, an exceptional member of the species determined through this film to make a name for himself. With Of Civil Wrongs and Rights, director Eric Paul Fournier is eager to celebrate the name of Fred Korema .tsu, an insufficiently sung hero of American civil rights. In 1942, Korematsu, a 23 POV 2001 season films: Top: The Fred Kore,matsu Story Middle: The Sweetest Sound Bottom: Scout’s Honor year-old Nisei welder living in his native California, refused to obey Executive Order 9066, by which 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and interned in desert camps. He faced hostility not only from non-Japanese but also from the Japane s e-American Citizens League, which counseled full compliance with the wartime policies of the United States. Even the American Civil Liberties Union refused to defend Korematsu, and when one of its lawyers, Ernest Besig, defied its national board to take on the case, the only one to test the constitutionality of the Japanese internments, they lost. In 1944, a six-member majority of the United States Supreme Court, including such usual champions of the Bill of Rights as Hugo Black, William 0. Douglas, and Harlan Stone, voted to uphold Korematsu’s felony conviction. Korematsu never conceded guilt over trying to exercise the rights enjoyed by other American citizens. And 39 years later, refusing to accept a pardon for actions he did not consider criminal, he fought to clear his name. In 1983, a team of largely young JapaneseAmerican lawyers, activists who rejected the acquiescence of their parents and grandparents, won a verdict from a federal judge that the wartime policies of the United States were infected by racism. Vindicated, Korematsu, in his eighties, today continues to align himself with progressive causes. Like Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, Fred Korematsu is a figure of quiet defiance; “I prefer not to” was his response to an unjust order to evacuate his home. Fournier likens him explicitly to Rosa Parks, an “ordinary” person who entered history for summoning the courage to refuse to move. His film is a work of hagiographic reclamation, a project that does not attempt to detail the indignities and afflictions of the relocations but rather focuses on the deeds of a single stubborn man. No instance of wartime treachery by Japanese-Americansthe ostensible cause for Executive Order 9066was ever uncovered, and The Fred Korematsu Story that Fournier tells is both appalling and inspiring. But the man’s heroism might have been enhanced if the film had made more of an effort to understand the opposition, why it was so widely assumed for so long that internment camps were a necessity for civil defense. No one appears on camera to support the relocations. By clarifying exactly what went wrong with American democracy, Fournier might have paid even greater tribute to a good Boy Scout. Steven G. Keilman is professor of comparative lit .erature at UT-San Antonio and the a u thor ofThe Translingual Imagination. 3/30/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21