This Saturday I helped at a journalism workshop for high school students, where they had to participate in actual press conferences and write stories or blogs afterward.
One of the press conferences featured a University of Hawaii-Manoa film student who has a flick in this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival. He moved here six years ago and, as one of the student bloggers put it, already feels comfortable adopting certain aspects of the local culture. Such as flashing the shaka and dabbling in Pidgin.
She raises a great question: when can you move to a new place and adopt the local culture?
And, in relation to last night’s “Hawaii Five-O” on CBS, how is that local culture comfortably — and accurately — depicted?
Folks were lighting up Twitter with complaints about everything from bad use of Pidgin (or, correctly, Hawaiian Creole English) to inaccurate depictions of the Islands. (Like heading East on the West-only Ala Wai Boulevard or saying that most guys in Hawaii have hunting licenses.)
Why do we feel so strongly about the way our state — and, more importantly, our culture — is portrayed in media? Do New Yorkers or Texans feel the same way? Do folks who live in any city portrayed in those “Real Housewives” series get this upset, too?
And can someone who moves to a new place, whether that’s Honolulu or Hanoi, adopt the local culture, speak the slang, walk the walk? Is it even possible?
I had a classmate from Northwestern University who was from Pennsylvania but wanted to be a Southern belle so badly, she adopted a Southern drawl. I thought it was weird, but I wonder what folks from Georgia would say.
What are your thoughts on this? It’s a touchy — but provocative — topic. And I don’t know what the right answers are. But I think it’s worth a discussion.
And maybe the show’s writers will read it, too.
To read all of Cat’s blogs, visit www.nonstophonolulu.com/thedailydish. Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at [email protected]
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Great post, Cat! Being back from Europe, I can appreciate the Aloha spirit and Hawaiian culture now more than ever!
@JohnGarcia Welcome back John!
Had a valued friend from Virginia. She and her husband lived in the islands for more than 40 years before she moved back — to California. In the meantime, her children grew up and picked up the local dialect and ways of life. While she wasn’t of Hawaii, she did a pretty good job of fitting in. Like rolling makizushi, and speaking pidgin. While she didn’t pick up surfing, she went to the beach with her children in her younger days. I believe each of us can grow into the Island culture. And, in time, pick up the subtle intonation of pidgin dialect.
Also had a pastor friend from North Dakota. He fit in so well he was adopted as the chaplain of the 100th Battalion. And, his kids grew up here also. Yes, I say it can be done.
@ron Uncle Ron, is that you?
As someone with access the internet, it irritates me when a TV show about a location is written by people who obviously do not live there. How hard would it have been for the writer of this week’s episode of Hawaii 5-0 to do a few seconds of research, and zoom in a little on his google map of Hawaii to see that Ala Wai Blvd is one way? (If you zoom in your google map to 90%, the westbound arrows become clearly visible.)
Think about this for a second: The cast and crew of the show LIVE AND WORK in Honolulu, and nobody associated with the local production noticed or cared enough that the line in the script was wrong to bother changing it. Clearly, nobody cares enough about their job to worry about getting things right. If they took a little more pride in their work, and the show might be more tolerable.
I get similarly frustrated when shows about New York (my local metro area) depict crime scenes in alleys in midtown Manhattan, where alleys simply do not exist. This example is slightly more forgivable because most shows about NYC film in Vancouver, so it’s not like everyone associated with the production should know when details are wrong. Still, it’s no less frustrating when writers don’t bother doing the minutes of research necessary to get simple geographical details correct.
At least NYC’s local culture varies so much by neighborhood and social group, writers can pretty much make up whatever they want. Like the (pretty goofy) Castle episode with the Steam Punk club. Who’s to say something like that doesn’t exist? At least they didn’t put the club at the intersection of 42nd Street and Houston.
@nerdsherpa That is so true in the TV/Movie world where one city substitutes for another. That probably can’t be helped since filming involves lots of money for shutting down streets and such. That’s why certain cities offer tax incentives and credits for filming in their locale.
When you live in one local long enough, you’ll pick up the local customs and lingo. As for being a “local” of the area, that will depend if you’re accepted by the community. You can’t force yourself to just copy what the locals do. You’ll need to embrace what the spirit (for lack of a better word) of the area is about.
I’ve got friends from the south with their southern drawl that have lived here in Hawai`i for over half their lifetime. Do I consider them local… Yes. They accepted the local culture and actually made a move to understand and value the local culture. I don’t think they forced themselves to fit in to our local culture but constantly built upon little stepping stones along the way till they became comfortable with it.
They can speak perfect pidgin with but a little southern drawl if you listen carefully. Their kids were born and raised in the islands.
I spend about half of most years in Honolulu. I don’t attempt to come off local, although for a while, when The Boat was still operating, I became the unofficial expert for the tourist question; “What’s that big pink thing up on the hill there?”
To me, part of honoring a culture is giving it some respect by not treating it like a toy that’s there for ones amusement. I know, because Hawaii has created itself to be a tourist destination, there’s a tendency for some tourists to treat the place like they are on a ride at Disneyland, and the residents like cast members in Mainstreet parade. That may be understandable, but not forgiveable, meaning; I understand that they are thick headed and unsophisticated.
It’s not a behavior restricted to Hawaii. I see tourists do the same thing in other tropical resort destinations in the Caribbean. Oddly, it’s always the Americans who act like fools on vacations. The Europeans get a beach chair, an umbrella and a stack of books and relax. But the Americans always seem to behave like horse’s rear ends. Maybe we’re just a nation of ‘Earls’.
I flash the shaka, because we’ve been doing it in CA since the Beach Boys were boys. But I never utter a word of Pidgin. I haven’t earned the right.
@turkfontaine I have a friend in Germany I forced to go to Octoberfest in Munich one year. He said you won’t find any Germans there during that time because they leave town to avoid all the Americans, Brits, Australians and Italians. So I guess there are a few “Earls,” but it does seem we Americans rock that mantle better than anyone. The more the rest of us travel respectfully, the better we can counter that effect.
@strobie @turkfontaine I’ve actually had a couple of people tell me while on European trips that we were “very respectful” for Americans. I didn’t get offended because I knew and saw exactly what they were talking about.
@turkfontaine No worry brah, talk all the pidgin you like when you come hea. We go protect you from the “Kapu”. Heh…
If we ever meet up irl when you winter here, you can practice all you want with me. Before you leave in 6 months we’ll make a kama`aina out of you.
@turkfontaine We have a well earned reputation as ugly Americans. I’ve seen it all over the world. Frankly the rest of the world feels the same way about haoles as Hawaii residents do… come, spend your money, then GO HOME.
@strobie @turkfontaine idk about that Oktoberfest story. get some connections in Munich and there’s definitely locals that have tables reserved yearly. But on a side note I do love it when it’s celebrated abroad in well after the fact in October! 🙂
@strobie @turkfontaine I believe you that that happened. just not the whole story.
Nothing wrong with picking up the things that fit you as long as you’re not trying to be someone you’re not. (But the show has some pretty silly notions of what “local” is, and they’ve got advisors. I think it’s better to roll with the camp of it, but understand why some would feel differently.)
I had a good friend in high school who moved to London for an NGO job and married there. She had a British accent at the 10 year reunion, which tripped everyone out (just like Madonna! 😉 ). But she really did LOVE living there, couldn’t stop gushing about it.
I think anywhere that has a sense of “place” is going to have people with a strong sense of ownership about what it is to be local there. It’s really strong in a place like New Orleans (so my Katrina-displaced colleague tells me), and really not in Los Angeles, where I lived for many years. I would guess there are more places that fit the former, fewer with the latter.
@strobie “Madonna…” bad example. (hehe) While I know folks who do naturally pick up localized syntax, I think hers really sounded forced and was rightly ridiculed. But I do agree some have more of a tendency to naturally pick up local slangs and inflections.
They cant write the show just for Hawaii. If people are going to watch it in the mainland where the majority of the people are, they need to change words and events for them to understand. They cant say “slippers” because no one but people in Hawaii know what that is, but if you say “flip flops” then everyone will understand.
@TN I kind of disagree here… they use flip flops for the mainland, but the series will eventually go worldwide (it is already broadcasting in the UK and Canada, and I believe it goes to Belgium in January) and people outside the US have no clue what flip flops are.. Take me, for example, I’m Dutch from origin but live in Hawaii, my wife is a HI local and only after she explained I knew what flip flops were, in Europe we just call it slippers.
They do adopt some pidgin, and even make up their own words, words no-one in the mainland would understand, but they can’t say slippers? I think they could easily have said slippers when you look at it all.
@TN I kind of also disagree with TN also…you say they can’t say “slippers” because no one on the mainland will understand because the show is directed to the larger mainland audience, but yet they (the actors) are made to “speak” pidgin knowing fully that no one in the mainland (or haole, as implied by Danny’s character) will understand.
The writers keep making the same mistake that most people who aren’t from Hawai’i make, and that is they think “pidgin” is just a set of “ho brah’s” and “I neva do nottin’ wrong” when the fact that when we say “slippers” or, rather “slippahs,” it is also part of pidgin in Hawai’i. Simple words like that also make Hawai’i what Hawai’i is…not just a bunch of purposely incoherently written sentences of what they “think” pidgin sounds like.
@TN In addition to the slippers thing I want to see a front porch with shoes all over it. Yeah I know, little thing. But at my house the shoe rack was on the front porch. Further, no one ever stole shoes… they got stuff out of the garage but never the shoes. I grew up in North Carolina and we called them slippers as often as flip flops. I suspect it was a Hollywood thing.
@dbjack @TN @svache Oh, in addition to a slippah strewn porch, it has to have the ceramic tile that says, “Please Remove Your Shoes!” that everyone (me included) has! hahahahaha!
@MaxMaxMax @dbjack @TN Heh… heh… Some of my college classmates that I visit throughout the mainland has something like what @maxmaxmax mentions. A few of the placemats, wood placards, and ceramic tiles even have “Please Hemo Your Shoes!”.
For you mainland folks: “hemo” is pronounced HEM-o (as in HEM line, a sewing term). It is not pronounced HEE-mo as in Hemoglobin.
So I asked what if you’re not from Hawai`i. People won’t understand what hemo means. Reply: “We tell them to remove their shoes and leave it at the front door”. The classmates in AZ have multiple pairs of slippers/flip flops at the back sliding door so that guests don’t need to carry their footwear into the house. It’s especially useful during the summer and winter months.
I think that after a while you develop character traits of the place you’re in. I know I picked up a mainland (Colorado) accent while I lived there… My friends from Hawaii said that I sounded “haole” which is awkward because I never really spoke much pidgin when I was a kid. That said, culture is not just some creole language, or style of dress, or footwear nomenclature, local culture, especially Hawaiian local culture is a feeling. It’s a spirit… the Aloha Spirit if you will… that can’t be taught or replicated onscreen… the braddahs and sistahs out there know what I’m talking about…
Regarding Hawaii 5-O though, part of the allure of the show for me (aside from a smokin’ hot Grace Park) is that we can laugh about the inaccuracies of the show as local people. And you know what, we’ll still watch, not only because it’s a great show, but because watching this show has become, at least for me, a very social experience. and maybe, that’s something that says more about the popularity of the show than mere ratings.
To answer Cat’s question about why we feel so strongly about the way our state and culture is portrayed in the media—or in this case the show H50, I think it’s because a person’s culture tends to be tightly interwoven with where he or she is from, so when something is portrayed inaccurately about our home or culture, we feel “we” are also being inaccurately portrayed. In other words, we take it personally because Hawai’i is who we are too. No one likes to see their identifying traits exploited with stereotypes, especially when it is done by people who only have a textbook knowledge about Hawai’i, our culture, or anything.
Now, can someone who moves to a new place adopt the local culture? Yes. Can they speak the slang or in this case pidgin? Yes, but I think the real question is, should they? I am from Hawai’i, born and raised. I lived in Southern CA for about 6 years as an adult. I hung out in L.A. a lot, and lived with a Mexican-American family for about 2.5 years. Did I adopt the L.A. culture? Yes. Did I grind the best carne asada tacos in the world? Yes. But did I greet Hispanics with “Que paso, ese?” or “Wassup cholo?” Uh, no. Did I feel the need to say “gracias” or “adios” to every brown person I saw, or order my food in Spanglish? No. What I think is kind of weird, and maybe even amusing is that it seems like it’s mostly white people who do that kind of stuff. I’m not trying to diss here, just an observation. I think the problem is that it sounds forced—maybe not to other people who are also “new” to a place—but to locals, it will always sound forced and just…wrong.
I think the best way to respect a culture, especially one that you are trying to adopt, is to just be yourself; for the writers of the show: don’t try so hard to make it look like you’re not trying hard. McGarrett’s little identity crisis and him constantly trying to prove how he “belongs” to another culture is a Hollywood plotline that has been played out for too long (i.e. Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and so on) and I think H50 could be more successful if they went against the grain a little on this one.
Not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I think another reason why we (people from Hawai’i) care so much, is because no one else really does. The writers of the show don’t care, the people on the mainland don’t really care, and if we don’t say something, H50 is going to be (or is already) just another false portrayal of Hawai’i. It’s not like Hawai’i is on mainstream TV *all* the time like NYC or LA is—we only have few opportunities to set the record straight, so just let us. Ok, I’m done!!
@reimirevolution Most shows originate from Hollywood and the sentiment of the Hollywood set has always been we are ALL ‘flyover’ people. The people they fly over on their corporate jets. Most southerners will tell you they are sick as being portrayed as living in trailer parks etc. And it is rare to hear a real Southern accent in a movie in the south. Stell Magnolias was embarrasingly bad that way. The only person in Sweet Home Alabama even close was Reese Witherspoon understandable since she is a Nashville native. In watching H50 here on the mainland I cringe if I think about the stuff they get wrong, flip flops and all. But don’t think you are alone with your beef about Hollywood getting Hawaii wrong… if it isn’t filmed in LA, where they can’t help but get the culture right, they could care less really. Hey I am on the mainland and I care and so do a lot of us misplaced Hawaii residents… put the blame where it lies… in Hollywood.
Hawaii certainly isn’t unique to having its local culture, language and navigational logistics screwed with… It happens not just to locations either, but professions as well. When you’re writing for the masses about a place or profession, you “have” to make it palatable for everyone. Getting too specific or clever with the nuances or details will be lost on everyone else, and people become bored.
Believe me, I get frustrated when my old stomping grounds of the midwest or south are misrepresented with phony accents and inaccuracies… but ya gotta just roll with it. I mean, whadaya want…? A successful TV show that helps the local economy by providing jobs and marketing for the Hawaii Visitors’ Bureau… or a highly accurate one that flops (or “flip-flops, hehe)? Unless what’s being portrayed is highly offensive or damaging to a person or reputation, it doesn’t matter…
Really though, why should it matter that someone’s traveling east down Ala Wai Blvd. Does it “negatively” reflect on Hawaii? For me, no…
I could learn the language and spend the rest of my life in Japan, and I will never be Japanese. The great thing about America is that the day you step off the airplane, or boat, or just walk across, you are one of us. It doesn’t matter if you are refugee, asylee, or have more common residency, you are one of the family, no matter what color you are or what language you speak.
The best I can hope for in a foreign land, and I have worked all over the world, is to dress like I belong and to be treated as a welcome guest. That I cannot be spotted from 100 meters away as a person from far away is part of my definition of success.
I grew up in Hawaii on the Big Island and after college and a few years working in Hawaii moved to Las Vegas for 10 years. I now live in the Carolinas (3 years in NC and 2 years in SC). As a previous poster noted, I also did not speak a lot of pidgin growing up but I can bus’ it out especially when I talk to my mom on the phone. When I lived in LV, a friend visited me. He called me at work, and we spoke. Thereafter, he said to me that I sounded haole. I never really gave it much thought but I guess since I have to speak a certain way at work, I did. The funny part was other people (either kama’ainas who moved to the mainland or even non Hawaii folks) would ask where I was from because I had that Hawaii accent (pidgin). When I moved to the Carolinas, I admit there were times I had a hard time understanding folks here with heavy southern accents. But you adapt. While I don’t speak southern, I do try to be respectful and use words of respect such as saying, “Yes, ma’am” or “Yes, sir.” I feel like I can fit in a little but not to the point where I would use a southern accent when obviously I was not from the south. My husband was born and raised in the south but does not have a heavy southern accent. I think like a lot of kids growing up in Hawaii where we were told to use “proper English,” it is a little bit the same for them. I do get a kick when I hear my mother-in-law say she is “fixin’ to…” do something. And I do bus’ out my pidgin here once in awhile with my kids. The other day I told my son not to do something “bumbye” something bad going happen. I also have the urge to shaka to folks here when the politely let me in the lane while I’m driving but I hold back because I don’t want them to think I’m giving them some kind of devil worship sign. Yes, I think you can adopt some local culture but you have to be careful to be respectful of their language and culture.
@islandgirlinnc Your example of wanting to flash the shaka but holding back because of cultrual misinterpretation is a valid one. Folks may remember when the Hawaii Army National Guard was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq back in 2004 there was an incident where one of the guards, part of the Big Island unit, flashed the shaka at a departing officer (high ranking and not from Hawaii). Said officer was offended, thinking the soldier gave him the devil worship sign or flipped him off, both a sign of disrespect. The incident made one heck of a stink, being reported in both Stars and Stripes and back home in the then two daily newspapers. Eventually the pressure came from the top that there would be no more shakas. In Kuwait, where I was, we just shook our heads and grumbled. Even the Kuwaitis couldn’t understand it, since they’ve seen us do it and understood what it meant after we explained it to them, and their reactions were the same as ours: stupid Americans.
@islandgirlinnc Oh, just to clarify, the incident took place in Baghdad, around one of Saddam’s former palaces converted into a base for the Americans.
@islandgirlinnc And just to clarify, the incident took place in Baghdad, around one of Saddam’s palaces that was converted into a base for the Americans. The official reason the hu-hu began was that the offended officer thought or felt like he wasn’t saluted and flipped off. Well, I don’t know what they teach now in basic, but I was taught NEVER to salute in a combat area. It shows the enemy who the boss is, and while I don’t really care if they knock that idiot officer off, they just might get me in the process!
@hikino Yeah, I don’t want to offend people here but at the same time it is nice to drive through neighborhoods here and wave to your neighbors who are outside. When I was living in Vegas, no way did that happen. Here, most people are friendly enough to wave at you in neighborhood. I guess I equate it to giving the shaka in Hawaii. In any case, I used to love riding with my dad in his old truck while I was growing up and watching him give the shaka to others he passed. Thanks for adding some insight with your experience with this!
@hikino @islandgirlinnc Lt. Dan. Forrest Gump basic knowledge. 🙂
Awww, Cat, great discussion and great questions. Lived in Hawai’i for more than 20 years. The first ten involved assignments in the AF there and during the first one I got involved with Scouts and a local scoutmaster from Maui. Did lot of hiking and camping and on one trip to KMC on big island, I sat spellbound for three hours as L. R. McBride told stories about Hawaiian legends and mythology. I was hooked. Hawai’i was much less politically correct then and people didn’t split so easily into ethnic groups. Met my Korean born wife who was pretty much ‘local’ by the time we ran into each other. Through her I somehow met more people from HPD than you can shake a stick at. We went to the PI from Hawai’i and then back to Oahu and we bought a house in Makakilo. I knew it was up to me, the haole guy to take the first step. So, shortly after we moved in and one of my neighbors started to build the requisite cinder block wall, I offered to help. After sweating a lot with him and some of his fam, I busted out a case of Primo (then $2.90 a case on base) and there was a bond. I showed up at the first neighborhood assn meeting with a notebook (steno pad for you kids) and my Portagee neighbors says, “Eh, haole brah, we need one secretary and you got da kine, you da guy!” So, of course when we, the ‘board,’ met it was always at a different house and always with food and in those days Primo and Oly. Later on my wife was hospitalized and my Hawaiian neighbor, Berta, brought food and did a blessing. Then my Filipina neighbor, Edith, brought pancit and lumpia and my Portagee neighbor, Diane, brought food, advice and stories. So, the last time I was there I retired from the AF and ended up teaching. I met more people of all kinds and ended up being advisor for a class and had to recruit a kumu for the class I was advisor to — May Day is special. I sat in on the sessions she had with the kids and learned more than I thought possible. Ten years later I had an extended ohana. But, then life happened and my wife developed a life threatening and ultimately life ending illness. We moved to Ohio to avail ourselves of the Cleveland Clinic and a transplant which didn’t work. My wife had always insisted that she wanted her ashes spread in the Pacific. After services in Ohio, I sent a copy of the program from the services done here to my Hawaiian ohana. They arranged services, a wake and canoes. My Hawaiian Chinese friend, Queenie, was with me on one of the canoes and whispered all the instructions I needed and told me how to spread the flowers after I spread the ashes. As we came in I noticed two HPD boats a little further out off Magic Island than we were. It took me a minute to realize that they were there to keep people away from us. Then I remembered Queenie’s hubby was HPD. She just smiled at me. Am I local? No. Do I have extended ohana in Hawai’i? Yes. Could I show up there tomorrow and have places to stay? Yes. Almost through, but speaking of Queenie, I remember my last May Day. Queenie ran the overall program. The year was 2004 and the senior who was elected to be Queen was a tranfer and she knew me pretty well. She confided to me that she didn’t know Queenie and asked would I introduce her because she felt a little awkward. So, I took the young woman to meet Queenie. Before I could say anything, Queenie linked her arm through mine and said to the young woman, “Oh, don’t worry I know who you are, but did you know (looking at me) that he and I were lovers in a previous life.” That is a sample of my life in Hawai’i. So, yeah, I’m not local, but there is a large chunk of my heart in Hawai’i.
PS, I am a little ticked that there is no one who really even remotely resembles the HPD guys I knew. And, oh yeah, my wife had a brief walk on appearance in the original Five-O and a ton of good cops made a little extra money from the original. But, the final scene in the show last night was good — even if questional with regard to authenticity. It brought back memories.
Awww, Cat, great discussion and great questions. Lived in Hawai’i for more than 20 years. The first ten involved assignments in the AF there and during the first one I got involved with Scouts and a local scoutmaster from Maui. Did lot of hiking and camping and on one trip to KMC on big island, I sat spellbound for three hours as L. R. McBride told stories about Hawaiian legends and mythology. I was hooked. Hawai’i was much less politically correct then and people didn’t split so easily into ethnic groups. Met my Korean born wife who was pretty much ‘local’ by the time we ran into each other. Through her I somehow met more people from HPD than you can shake a stick at. We went to the PI from Hawai’i and then back to Oahu and we bought a house in Makakilo. I knew it was up to me, the haole guy, to take the first step. So, shortly after we moved in and one of my neighbors started to build the requisite cinder block wall, I offered to help. After sweating a lot with him and some of his fam, I busted out a case of Primo (then $2.90 a case on base) and there was a bond. I showed up at the first neighborhood assn meeting with a notebook (steno pad for you kids) and my Portagee neighbors says, “Eh, haole brah, we need one secretary and you got da kine, you da guy!” So, of course, when we, the ‘board,’ met it was always at a different house and always with food and in those days Primo and Oly. Later on my wife was hospitalized and my Hawaiian neighbor, Berta, brought food and did a blessing. Then my Filipina neighbor, Edith, brought pancit and lumpia and my Portagee neighbor, Diane, brought food, advice and stories. The last time I was there I retired from the AF and ended up teaching. I met more people of all kinds and ended up being advisor for a class and had to recruit a kumu for the class I was advisor to — May Day is special. I sat in on the sessions she had with the kids and learned more than I thought possible. By then, I had an extended ohana. But, then life happened and my wife developed a life threatening and ultimately life ending illness. We moved to Ohio to avail ourselves of the Cleveland Clinic and a transplant which didn’t work. My wife had always insisted that she wanted her ashes spread in the Pacific. After services in Ohio, I sent a copy of the program from the services done here to my Hawaiian ohana. They arranged services, a wake and canoes. My Hawaiian Chinese friend, Queenie, was with me on one of the canoes and whispered all the instructions I needed and told me how to spread the flowers after I spread the ashes. As we came in I noticed two HPD boats a little further out off Magic Island than we were. It took me a minute to realize that they were there to keep people away from us. Then I remembered Queenie’s hubby was HPD. She just smiled at me. Am I local? No. Do I have extended ohana in Hawai’i? Yes. Could I show up there tomorrow and have places to stay? Yes.
Almost through, but speaking of Queenie, I remember my last May Day. Queenie ran the overall program. The year was 2004 and the senior who was elected to be May Day Queen was a transfer and she knew me pretty well. She confided to me that she didn’t know Queenie and asked would I introduce her because she felt a little awkward. So, I took the young woman to meet Queenie. Before I could say anything, Queenie linked her arm through mine and said to the young woman, “Oh, don’t worry I know who you are, but did you know (looking at me) that he and I were lovers in a previous life?” That is a sample of my life in Hawai’i. So, yeah, I’m not local, but there is a large chunk of my heart in Hawai’i.
PS, I am a little ticked that there is no one who really even remotely resembles the HPD guys I knew. And, oh yeah, my wife had a brief walk on appearance in the original Five-O and a ton of good cops made a little extra money from the original. But, the final scene in the show last night was good — even if questionable with regard to authenticity — brought back memories.
@Maxcat all beautiful. made me cry. i’m sry abt ur wife, but glad that her passing created beautiful memories too.
I don’t try to talk pidgin, it just happens when I talk.
@m Bird brah, we speak Bird, according to Kamekona in Hawaii 5-0 S1 E1 (Pilot).
Surprised no one has mentioned @danieldaekim’s tweet about the “flip-flop” line in response to all the comments on #H50 about it:
“4THE RECORD I pushed to say ‘slippers.’ I even recorded a take saying it, but consider WHY ‘flip flops’ was used before you hate. #H50”
I don’t think anyone really blames DDK, he didn’t write the script. But I guess he felt a need to say something about it ’cause he felt his local cred was taking a small hit there. It’s cool that DDK addressed it though and made an effort to have it sound “right”. I think it shows how sincere he is about ingraining himself into the local culture, even IMHO it wasn’t that big of a deal.
@808marv The closing remark from Monday nights Hawaii News Now mentioned Daniel Dae Kim ‘s tweet as you mentioned above. The use of “slippers” were overturned by the Executive Producer Peter Lenkov according to the News Team.
@808marv yah, I saw his tweet in the timeline and kinda felt bad for him, because I think deep down inside he knows what’s up. You’re right, it’s not that much of a big deal…but I do think saying “slippers” would have made a lot more sense; the writers try so hard to make “their” version of Hawai’i seem authentic with all the pidgin and cultural references, yet they have DDK’s character who is supposed to be local saying the most haole word ever–flip flops. Now, if Danny’s character said flip-flops it would make more sense…
Having listened to so many insulting words hurled at Southerners over the years, listened to lousy accents on TV and in the movies, and suffered through so many ‘superiority complexes’ from people who first moved to NC I think I get why local Hawaii folk get wrapped around the axle with mainland folk. After I had lived in Hawaii a few years it became apparent to me Hawaii suffers the same way, people don’t get the place really, they just think they do. It really is not the pidgin, or whether they are slippers or flip flops, it is a respect for the land, sea, and sky, and a way of life that respects old and new. Hawaii is a community you earn your way into by learning and appreciating where people are coming from. You are in the middle of nowhere really and things are more precious there. Scarcity breeds a respect for things that really matter. Friends, family, and a sense of pulling together comes from this. Nothing worse than having a bunch of tourists come spend a lot of money, buy t-shirts, and think they can live the life in Hawaii. Life is harder in Hawaii than inmost places and you accept it and realize you are blessed with each others presence and with mother natures finest work. Do you ever really fit in, it is up to you. My favorite line in the last episode was, ‘you folks took eight islands you can at least pick up a check every now and then.’ That resentment runs deep, and it should, start there and you might find the Hawaii you want to be part of. I liked last nights episode a lot because the show is moving to include more people and more of the local culture. But it has a long long way to go to really resonate with those of us who have lived and loved Hawaii. I really do like how often Danno gets called a Haole. Its when you stop being called the haole guy you know things are changing for you in Hawaii.
@dbjack thanks for the great insight; what you said makes a lot of sense.
This is not an answer to Cat’s direct question but I see some examples of what it takes to be local in other posts and thought I’d add this about local people recognizing other locals when out and about outside of Hawa`i. For people that grew up in Hawai`i and leave for some reason (job, school, health, etc.) they will always take a part of Hawai`i with them.
Examples: 1 – Driving down from Mt. Hood after a snowboard session I stop in at a McD’s in Sandy, OR. In my most perfect English I order my food. The initial response back from the Cashier was “Eh, you from Hawai`i ah?”. Turns out she’s from Wai`anae.
2. TSA is setting up a barrier at the gate as passengers enter the walkway to the plane. I nod to one of the TSA Agents and he nods back in likewise fashion. Ex local bruddah now living on the mainland.
3. Ex-local lives in Knoxville, TN for over 20 years. The gang meets up for dinner and her first words were “Howzeeeet” with a TN twang. Nothing is funnier than watching some people trying to stifle their laughs but a few of us, me included, were rotflmAo. Do we consider her local even though at the time she spent over half her life on the mainland? I do.
No matter where you are there’s always a hint of localness about you. Whether it’s in your mannerism’s, speech, attitude, or whatever else, a born and bred local person would be able to spot another local person with just even a minute flick of the head, a jargon, or even a handshake.
In my humble opinion, they’ve been adding a bit too much “localism” to each episode. Got to remember that the majority of viewers need to relate to the show. Being filmed in Hawaii with such a terrific backdrop, and cast and crew is already a big plus. But adding too much pidgin, local customs, etc in a short 40 minute time span might have turn some people off. Magnum PI and the old Five 0 didn’t really “push” Hawaii. The old cop show “Hawaii” did and they didn’t last too long.
@Kakaakodragon I totally agree!!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Yes, you’ll prolly make a fool of yourself. This is a great discussion topic with so many interesting ways it can go. Lots of layers. First of all, Imma say yeah, you can adopt culture. I’m a born and bred Midwesterner with a mixed bag of Anglo-Saxon ancestry and no matter how many years I live in Hawaii I’ll never be Local. –Sorry, locavores, you are what you eat does not apply here. lol– I know this and I’m fine with that. I don’t (nor will I ever) try to boast about how long I’ve lived here, as though the years are points to collect that’ll make me “Local”. Nope. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Maybe that’s what this question is about really: Can what you do in your life (where you go, how you dress, act, speak, eat, etc.) change you? It can, but it doesn’t change your roots.
That being said, I find the question to be a thought provoking one (especially looking at all the commentary). I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled quite a bit, interacted with cultures other than my native one and have made dear friends around the world. English, it’s my first and only primary language. Loving to read and learn new things, I enjoy learning a new language or about other cultures (remotely or immersed). There are so many examples I could share, but this is one of my first memories on the subject.
As an elementary student I was in an French exchange program. As part of our preparation (hosting and traveling) we learned French history, culture, language and even to sing the French National Anthem (tres cute)! Back in those days, the early 90’s, we were told very seriously that the whole french reputation of being snooty was, well, kinda true. We were told that nothing was more offensive to a frenchman than not to address him in his native tongue! Of course, the Frenchies could speak better english than we poor Americans could speak french, but they wouldn’t unless you made a damn fool of yourself trying to ask “how much is that croissant?” en francais! These folks take their language very seriously. (A little insight into the seriousness of the french ego trip, the national organization dedicated to the preservation of the purity of the language, L’Académie française, calls it’s member’s immortels, or immortals!) Have visited la belle France more recently I was floored to see that stuffy attitude had done a 180! The primary reason for this change is because the foreign language training is superb and kids today just don’t care about that sort of thing. In fact, the kids today are either concerned with being cool so much that they have to keep reinventing and revising their own slang or are making connections all over Europe and the world speaking globish- a mutli-linguistic mashup with english custom tailored to match the locality, purpose, etc. it’s like global pidgin (but cooler b/c anyone can try w/o getting the stink eye)! 😛 Eventhough the attitude had changed dramatically, it’s still appreciated and some of the older folks will carry on in french.
Never have I encountered anything but gracious appreciation when reaching out across cultural and linguistic borders (despite how I looked or sounded — For the record, it’s hard work, but the payback is priceless.) and it would have been unthinkably rude not to. Adopting local culture is not about trying “fit in” or be “Local” it’s about respect. As many have articulated, one’s cultural roots are tied closely to one’s identity. By learning, and practicing cultural or linguistic practices other than your own it is a demonstration of compassion. Language and culture are experienced interpersonally. Adopting cultural practices displays that you care enough about the other person, as a fellow human being, to learn about their culture, about them, and to interact and communicate with them in a personal way. Above all, it’s an act of love. And mostly, people get that.
For all of those (haters) who think that your language/culture makes you better/cooler than someone else, you’ve clearly missed the point (Oh and you’re not cool. So, just go find your happy place and then you can come back to the story-time-circle and have a snack! :D). Culture and language are a living legacy. Share it, tell it’s story (be sure to get the details right), let it breathe and live on in practice. Oooooor you can be selfish, try to keep it all to yourself and let it die as each one of you passes away. Face it, Hollywood is gonna mess it up on the TV and Movie screens (but they don’t have to!) so you might as well teach us sorry hopelessly uncool haoles the right way to throw the shaka to the braddahs! Oh, and to the folks who say they’re local but aren’t– you know who you are– and the ones who keep tryin’ to use the old I’ve live in HI for x years, cut it out! You’re not foolin anyone. Plus, you’re just reinforcing the insecure power-mongering cultural cool police by playing their game!
I could go on about this for a long while (this is a deep issue), but I think I’ve spent enough time typing. Time to go live aloha. hahaha! Sorry, can’t resist fake using BS commercial/PR sayings!
One last note: I don’t believe compromises are appropriate in all situations. The film industry in HI can still flourish and maintain cultural integrity, it’s called the genius of both! At least, don’t sell out without even putting up a good fight- auwe! Americans (Hollywood types, Mainlanders, Haoles, etc.) already treat the world (not just HI and other tropical places) like it’s effing Epcot Center and that’s not cool, respectful, and definitely not diplomatic! Yikes! Don’t be such a pushover HI, saaaay sumthin! I know times is tough right now and you’re really happy to get some positive cashflow, but you gotta stand up for yourself. And you’re worth it! *tear*sniffle*. NO, for realz, that could be jobs for people too… cultural consultants or whatnot.
They say when in Rome, do as the Romans do. However, I still believe you can take the island away from the boy or girl, but you can’t take the boy or girl away from the island. In other words, I think for most of us who grew up in Hawaii, no matter what, there’ll always be that “local” spirit and longing in us.
A majority of readers on my blog (and possibly yours here) seem to be Hawaii expats “jonesing” for a taste back home. No matter where they live — whether it be Europe, Asia, or the mainland — they still miss local foods and culture. The longer they’ve lived away, the more they miss Hawaii. The fond, unique island memories never seem to fade away. 😉