Trouble in paradise.
We surfers, we wave sliders, are forever indebted to the Hawaiian islands. While some scholars and eminent journalists believe that our favorite pastime sprang from Peru’s fertile cocaine, we know that it was the proud Hawaiian who truly made surfing what it is. Now, the battle over paradise is not unfamiliar to us. Haoles flying in by the jumbo jet load to crowd iconic breaks catching cracks every now and again but, even worse, hotel developers, industrialists, magnates all “borrowing” and/or “appropriating” the land from its indigenous.
Well, a new film, Cane Fire, explores this troubled dynamic in depth. According to The Wrap:
(It is) an indispensable watch, (director) Banua-Simon’s first feature focuses on the island of Kauaʻi and the history of its exploitation as a colony, which endures under the guise of statehood. First desired for its fertile soil (for sugar cane and pineapple plantations that employed underpaid and overworked migrants from Asia), the island later became a sought-after Hollywood location and, eventually, a paradisiacal tourist playground for the rich.
After detailing how the five major sugar companies carried out union-busting practices, and even deported those who demanded better wages and living conditions, the director takes to task Hollywood’s willing participation in creating the image of Hawaii, and specifically Kauaʻi, as a welcoming getaway for white outsiders.
I do not believe that the World Surf League is, specifically, singled out but do you recall when the Santa Monica-based appropriators of professional surfing carved the number of local Hawaiian wildcards competing in the Pipeline event from eighteen, or something, to two?
Cane Fire opens May 20 in United States theaters.