Bustin’ Down The Door

As a kid, I’d often make fun of other people and the less intelligent among them would respond by punching me. I always thought that was unfair. I only fought with words.

So I’ve watched a couple of surfing documentaries about the Australian invasion of the Hawaiian surfing scene in the 1970s. In 1975, for example, the Aussies won all the top spots in a Hawaiian competition and for the great sin of claiming in interviews that they were indeed the best surfers, better than the native Hawaiins, they got beat up, held hostage in their apartment, and death contracts were taken out on them by the native Hawaiians. Why? Because the Aussie’s had dissed the Hawaiian’s culture.

I say any culture that responds to criticism with physical violence is a culture that deserves to be disrespected.

From Wikipedia: “Bustin’ Down The Door is a 2008 documentary film chronicling the rise of professional surfing in the early 1970s. The film follows a group of young surfers from Australia and South Africa, including Shaun Tomson, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Ian Cairns, Mark Richards, Michael Tomson and Peter Townend, as they relocate to Hawaii encountering obstacles, turf wars and massive wipeouts along the way. Clashes with the locals, some of whom find the newcomers’ bravado to be insulting to Hawaiian culture, eventually culminate in death threats against the subjects of the film.”

Now I’m watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary, HAWAIIAN: THE LEGEND OF EDDIE AIKAU.

ESPN: “The surfers who were pushing the hardest were a group of young Australians who were determined to break into the ranks at any cost.”

And for this their lives were in danger.

The Huffington Post comments: “In 1976, for instance, he [Eddie Aikau] was instrumental in easing tensions between Hawaiians and Australians when turf battles on the North Shore of Oahu intensified.”

So some native Hawaiians beat up Australians in retaliation for boasting, put out contracts for the Australians’ deaths, and this is just “tensions between Hawaiians and Australians.” On the one hand, you have a culture that boasts with words. On the other hand, you have a culture that inflicts physical violence in retaliation for words they don’t like. Why does this sound so familiar? Which culture is superior and which culture is inferior?

The ESPN documentary talks about an “almost forgotten Hawaiian culture.”

Nainoa Thompson, director of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, says: “The Hokulea [to sail to Tahiti and back, over 5,000 miles to prove how smart and pioneering the native Hawaiians were] was a conduit for hope, for healing that goes back to the crushing of the native Hawaiian people over the past 200 years. Hawaiian culture and language was pretty much outlawed in the public schools in 1926. Most schools in Hawaii clearly understood, don’t teach Hawaiian. It has no value. You have that stereotype that native Hawaiians are stupid and lazy. If you hear it long enough, you’re going to believe it and become it.”

Why would anyone believe such stereotypes?

Dr. Jonathan Osorio, professor at the “Hawaiian School of Knowledge”, says to ESPN: “We aren’t just the servants of tourists. We’re not just hula dancers smiling and loving to dance for you. We’re an angry people. We’re a warrior people.”

Gee, where have I heard this stuff before?

So to prove how smart they are, the native Hawaiians organize a voyage (on a boat built without plans) to Tahiti and back without instruments, three decades about Thor Heyerdahl pulled off a more impressive feat.

I wonder if it is gauche to point out a Norwegian explorer who pulled off such a feat? “Kon-Tiki was the raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. It was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom “Kon-Tiki” was said to be an old name. Kon-Tiki is also the name of Heyerdahl’s book; the Academy Award-winning documentary film chronicling his adventures; and the 2012 dramatised feature film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.”

From IMDB.com: “Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947, in an effort prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.”

So to prove how smart they are, the Hokulea knowingly sails into a storm and is destroyed a few miles off the coast. The crew of 11 survives on a canoe and shoots off flares. Eddie takes a surfboard and paddles for help with the land about 12 miles away and he is never seen again.

A tourist on a plane sees the last flare shot off by the survivors and notifies a flight attendant who tells the pilot who circles around and notifies the Coast Guard who rescues these brave angry but frightened warriors out to prove the brilliance of native Hawaiian culture.

One Hawaiian says Eddie could not have lived with the humiliation of the Hokulea and it was better for him to end this way, paddling into legend.

The Hokulea made the trip to Tahiti in 29 days in 1980 and still sails back and forth to this day to prove a point about the greatness of Hawaiian culture.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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