The possibilities for the horror Donald Trump’s presidency will enact upon this country know no bounds, but his virulent anti-Muslim stance and the scattered and ominous talk of a Muslim “registry” is perhaps the most alarming of all. A new PSA, executive-produced by Katy Perry, highlights the parallels between the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and Trump’s racist rhetoric and asks us all to consider whether or not history might be repeating itself.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the PSA was directed by Aya Tanimura, a filmmaker of Japanese and Australian descent, and Tim Nackashi and produced by Mari Rivera. The short film shares the story of Haru Kuromiya, who was forced out of her home in Riverside, CA with her family and moved to the Manzanar internment camp, under direct order of the American government. It’s this very thing that Muslim Americans fear could happen under a Trump presidency and for Tanimura, reminding people of this very-recent history is crucial.
From the Times:
“Trump has created an atmosphere of fear for Muslim Americans in the United States,” Tanimura told The Times. “The accountability and responsibility for what you say and do now has been lifted so people feel a little freer to be racist, or act upon racism, because there are not necessarily consequences for it — it’s just acceptable behavior. If laws are put in place to back that up, it will be pretty scary.”
In the PSA, Kuromiya says “My entire family was put on a registry. Our constitutional rights were taken away from us.” Halfway through the short, a twist reveals just how relevant this message is. According to the Times, Tanimura worked with special-effects artist Tony Gardner to make the prosthetics and they cast a Pakistani actress named Hina Khan for the role–something that Tanimura said was “non-negotiable.”
The filmmakers behind the short needed funding to cover the cost of the prosthetics and that, my friends, is where Katy Perry came in. “Katy has always been a champion of the underdog, of minorities, of the people who are kind of left of center, and she’s become more politically involved in the last few election cycles,” Tanimura told the Times. When the filmmakers called her and told her about this PSA, she gave them a blank check.
The post has been updated for clarification: Tim Nackashi co-directed the PSA and Mari Rivera produced it.