Don't dump Hawaii's greatness in favor of soulless L.A. culture


POSTED: Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just recently, it dawned on me that an interesting but disturbing trend, almost a mass psychological disorder, is prevalent. I will illustrate with a few seemingly unrelated scenarios.

While working on a book about the locally filmed TV series “;Hawaii Five-0,”; I visited the Ilikai Hotel a few times to inquire about research in its archives-history-PR office files. I hit an impasse. There is no such thing. The Ilikai has gone through so many owners and changes, not only does no one there remember or know of the old days of filming, but they have no archives related to their own legacy or the environs to cull from or remind them.

It is rumored that the IBM building might be razed. Those who support the move mention justifications such as “;it is outdated; buildings should reflect the modern surroundings.”; It's a structure that does not blend in with the more sleek, modern buildings in the area.

It's the same mentality we saw exhibited when the Lewers Street redevelopment began. The area was described as the armpit of Waikiki. Now it looks like an armpit of Los Angeles.

  Time was when the local newspapers would daily feature articles covering aspects of Hawaiian/Polynesian culture. Nowadays local newspapers are replete with, “;Here are the latest mainland styles! Get your $100 T-shirt and $200 jeans that everyone else is buying so you, too, can be unique, at this month's newly erected monolith on Kapiolani! And this T-shirt with a design made of aluminum foil that will set you back almost $200!”;

The call now is for “;townies”; to ape the metrosexuals of New York, Miami and L.A. Good idea - let's lose our local culture and try to keep up with the Joneses, those of the paper-thin personalities and the vacuous social mentalities.

This stems from an unfortunately prevalent mindset that we must buy the latest fashions. We must shop from the latest stores. We must use the latest lingo. We must be up to the minute in all our buying and thinking and also get rid of anything passe, because our limited cranial capacity cannot handle it. Pay no mind to that which was before our time. Who cares about that!? Let's modernize and redevelop that which is old, dingy, outdated and looks oh so '90s!

  Speaking of the latest lingo, have you noticed pidgin is going the way of the wind? It is nowadays so rarely spoken; pidgin phrases are being relegated to T-shirt and bumper sticker slogans.

It's an unfortunate mindset that clamors for more modern changes as often as possible; change for the sake of change. Everything older is considered worn out, outdated, used up. Worthless because it is not brand new. And when it becomes a couple of years old, burn it. Demolish it, erect a newer edifice. Toss out yer wardrobe cuz it is so 2007, my dear, and cover yourself with the latest fad designer cra- ... uh ... threads on this month's model, this season's style. Get it while ya can, cuz bruddah, you will be passe in a few months.

It is sad; this is the kind of thing that people need to validate themselves. Let's be lemmings and spend the better half of a $200 bill for a T-shirt.

  We don't cherish the past, recent or otherwise. That is (or was) our identity. And since it is forgotten, one must purchase a new identity at the latest boutique. We don't care what made these islands great, we haven't a clue who these great personages are effigied in bronze dotting our city. This is Hawaii. We are part of a culture wholly different from the rest of America. Hawaii respects and maintains its links to the past. The recent past, the ancient past. Let's not turn mainland so quickly. It's happening on its own fast enough.


Allen “;Kimo”; St. James, a local filmmaker and authority on Hawaiiana, was born and raised in Hawaii. He lives in Honolulu.