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"Why the Battle of Midway Hasn't Captured Popular Culture" Topic

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1,360 hits since 9 Jun 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2017 9:25 p.m. PST

"Why has the Battle of Midway, one of the most dramatic moments of World War II, received so little attention in popular culture?

Midway is remarkable, and perhaps unique among decisive battles, in that the outcome depended on the actions of a small number of people in a very confined time frame. If the American dive-bombers had made any of a variety of mistakes, or if the Japanese defenders had avoided any of their mistakes, the United States could have lost a net of three aircraft carriers instead of the other way around. It is vastly easier to imagine an alternative outcome to Midway that it is for Stalingrad, or Moscow, or D-Day, or Leyte, or any of the other great battles of World War II.

Invocations of the "miracle at Midway" are not at all hyperbole; the U.S. victory was dramatic, unexpected, and had a critical short-to-medium-term impact on the strategic situation in the Pacific theater. Even if, as Benjamin David Baker suggested last year, in strategic terms the Japanese were drawing dead, the momentum of the Japanese Pacific offensive was finished. By 1944, the United States had enormous quantitative and qualitative advantages over the Japanese in every category of air and naval weapon. To this we can add the growing strength of the Royal Navy in the Far East; the British Pacific Fleet would include six fleet carriers, four light carriers, and a plethora of support ships…"
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Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jun 2017 10:51 p.m. PST

I don't know, they made a movie about Midway in the 1960s or 70s so it must have had some popularity.

Personal logo Vis Bellica Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 12:05 a.m. PST

Kind of hard to walk the battlefield…

Mikasa Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 4:54 a.m. PST

Well if it hasn't happened it won't now with the Millennials picking up the reigns. Not with the victors mostly being white males, who as we all know have been responsible for only bad things.

Piquet Rules11 Jun 2017 6:13 a.m. PST

There's a great scene of Midway in "The Eternal Zero" movie.

Murvihill11 Jun 2017 6:21 a.m. PST

The discussion about movies is interesting. Unlike D Day or the Battle of the Bulge where movies were not historically faithful, Tora Tora Tora and the Battle of Midway were close enough that you could ignore the button-counting mistakes. OTOH, while Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers went the other way attempting for historical accuracy, Pearl Harbor is appalling with Spruance Destroyers on display and airplanes flying around street corners. As far as the basic premise of the article, in naval battles the material lost represents a substantial national investment but the number of dead is dwarfed by the casualty list in a land battle. The smaller number of participants affects the popularity of the battle.

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

Compare a map of Midway with just about any land battle and you can see the problem:


Legion 411 Jun 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

Well if it hasn't happened it won't now with the Millennials picking up the reigns. Not with the victors mostly being white males, who as we all know have been responsible for only bad things.
Amen … Plus … Most in the US know little to nothing about history in general. Or care.

And yes, the current social "environment", dogma, etc., does not generally lend itself to anything that does not agree with that.

A poor example but humor me … the new Wonder Woman movie is a block buster. But the makers of that film choose to move it back to WWI as opposed to WWII. As in the original comic. But I doubt many viewing it would know the difference. Just so it makes $$$$. Which it is by the bushel full based on the news reports.

That being said, I never had or will have anything against Wonder Woman, in any decade. Who would !? Beside she'd slap the Bleeped text out of you if you did have a problem with her !

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 7:10 a.m. PST

For the record, I thought Wonder Woman was great.

As for the original post: we're talking here about popular culture, not history. So please list all of those battles that have caught the imagination from the entire war in the Pacific? Or the Vietnam War? Or even the mid East?

When the bad guy has brown skin, it will never sell the way white on white does.

dBerczerk11 Jun 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

John Ford directed a wartime documentary of the battle using combat footage:

YouTube link

"Storm Over the Pacific" (1960) starts with Pearl Harbor but ends with a view of the climactic battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective.


With Toshirô Mifune and Takashi Shimura of "The Seven Samurai" fame, it's actually quite interesting.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 7:58 a.m. PST

There aren't many surface naval warfare movies, and many of the ones that are out there often rely on combat newsreel footage. The obvious problem is the expense of filming half a dozen ships sailing about. But, with modern computer graphics, you wonder if it is not more doable.

SBminisguy11 Jun 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

The battle is included in the 2011 biopic on Yamamoto:

YouTube link

zoneofcontrol Inactive Member11 Jun 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

Agree with the sadness of Pop Culture. I turned on TV this morning as I was making breakfast. It came on to a news channel segment about this weekend's movie openings so I left it on to see.

First up was an interview with the star of the "Megan Leavey" movie. The gist of the entire interview was the interviewer gushing to the star about "didn't you just want to adopt your co-star (the dog) and take him home with you?"

So much for the movie. So much for the people portrayed in the film. So much for the deeds being recounted. But boy, oh day we did get to talk about fluffy bunnies and cute puppies.

cosmicbank11 Jun 2017 9:13 a.m. PST

I blame history classes The Battle of Midway is hard to explain and hard to follow. A lot of (most) Teachers don't have the skill/time/money to teach it. And the students don't have the Brains/time/interest to study it. And beside tanks are cool.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 10:11 a.m. PST

Is this a serious thread? I've knon about it since I was 10 years old, and have several books on it.

Tempest in a teapot.

CeruLucifus11 Jun 2017 11:06 a.m. PST

What the OFM said. And Fletcher Pratt included Midway in his The Battles That Changed History.

Legion 411 Jun 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

Most of us here are a bit long in the tooth. And have an interest in military history, etc. So most of us know about Midway, etc.

But most others especially the "youngsters", don't have the interest in many things older than last week's shows with Pop Stars, Media darlings, actors, etc.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 1:38 p.m. PST


Unless we're talking about University level history, Midway merits a short paragraph. Ditto for most battles. The ins and outs of battles simply aren't important to an understanding of history. Why they fought and who won is enough.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP11 Jun 2017 5:50 p.m. PST

No battlefield, no war crimes, no women in combat, no civilians killed, no Marines, no Nazis, US won. Nothing for the PC crowd to get excited about.


rmaker11 Jun 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

I blame history classes The Battle of Midway is hard to explain and hard to follow. A lot of (most) Teachers don't have the skill/time/money to teach it. And the students don't have the Brains/time/interest to study it.</q

Since when did high school history classes ever make it up to WW2?

Mooby66612 Jun 2017 12:59 a.m. PST

From the perspective of my British gaming friends (limited audience sorry) they all think that any naval battles are tedious. They will happily play with tanks on a desert theatre, but find the additional knowledge needed to get in to naval warfare is hard to read or is simply swamped by rivet counters who scare them off aka too much hassle to research.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2017 6:56 a.m. PST

Just to throw this out there too, but other than the Zero, and limited appearances of B-17s and Avengers, Midway didn't have any "cool" planes – no Corsairs, no P-61s, no B-29s, Mustangs, not even the Flying Tigers! :-) And certainly no German planes or Spitfires.

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP12 Jun 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

History is still being competently taught and written. It has expanded its range of interest and coverage to more than white men but that does not mean it fails to cover and analyze events involving them.

Midway has always attracted considerable interest, not as much as D-Day or Gettesburg but most people can identify the battle.

Teen age disinterest in history is a quite old complaint. It would be helpful (and is being done to some extent in AP classes) to teach the nature of historical sources and how to analiyze competing arguements.


Ottoathome12 Jun 2017 2:17 p.m. PST

History has nothing to do with popular culture.

Want to see popular culture? Surf the net for porn .

Legion 412 Jun 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

Nothing for the PC crowd to get excited about.
Amen … that seems to be the only things those types are concerned about in war movies.

Want to see popular culture? Surf the net for porn .
Very true … very true …

Charlie 1212 Jun 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

Much of this has the sounds of grumping "get off my lawn!"

Might I suggest your OWN parents and grandparents said the same about YOU?

Get over yourselves….

People have different interests. You love military history (and can't understand why anyone would not know the significance of Midway… or Borodino… or (fill in the blank)). Another person is all about 19th century art. You ask that person to name the commanders at Midway (or Borodino, or (fill in the blank) and they're liable to give you a blank stare. The same kind of blank stare that YOU would give if asked about the importance of the pre Raphealite movement (or the impressionist movement, or the (fill in the blank).

And as for being in Pop Culture… Really? Is THAT how you judge the importance of things?


Ottoathome12 Jun 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

Barkin up the wrong tree Charlie, I know all about the Impressionists, Expressionists, Fauve's, Poussainists, Reubenistes, and art in those periods. Also the humanists, pamphleteers and literature. Chiaroscuro, Sturm in Drang, etc. . Go back to surfing your porn.

And YUP that's how I judge the importance of things. Pop culture is crap.

Charlie 1212 Jun 2017 7:10 p.m. PST

Well, Otto, then you have a good education.

My point (which was evidently lost on you), is that judging something by its impact in Pop Culture is a fool's game.

Oh, BTW, its Poussinists (or, en francaise, Poussinistes). Une petite correction…

Oh, and chiaroscuro is a technique, not a movement (Vermeer is my favorite master of it. Pity he died so young).

And I'll leave the porn to others, thank you…

Legion 413 Jun 2017 4:35 a.m. PST

And I'll leave the porn to others, thank you…
Yeah, that's like a staving man watching someone grill a steak ! huh? I void that kind'a stuff, religiously.

And besides its like a dog chasing cars … what would he do with it, if he caught one ? old fart wink

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

Define popular culture? I believe it receives as much attention as any other WWII battle.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

God knows there have been plenty of books written about it.

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