June 5, 2015 – A tough week for auteur Cameron Crowe whose Aloha opened to weak box office and even weaker reviews, ¬†currently scoring 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. But some of the loudest¬†rumblings are not coming from critics or even the mighty¬†Kilauea – it’s the Hawaiian punch¬†against the¬†casting of Emma Stone as “Allison Ng.” That’s not a typo — it’s “Ng” and “Ng”¬†is the daughter of a half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian man and a Swedish woman. Throughout Aloha, Ng repeatedly reminds other characters (and the audience)¬†of this fact of her heritage: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a quarter Hawaiian.‚ÄĚ In reality, Emma Stone¬†is closer to being 100% Albino than either¬†a¬†quarter Hawaiian or Chinese.
Even before the film’s release, Sony was forced to put out a statement in response to¬†The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) who felt this was another Hollywood film whitewashing native culture:
‚ÄúWhile some have been quick to judge a movie they haven‚Äôt seen and a script they haven‚Äôt read, the film Aloha¬†respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe spent years researching this project and many months on location in Hawaii, cultivating relationships with leading local voices. He earned the trust of many Hawaiian community leaders, including Dennis ‚ÄėBumpy‚Äô Kanahele, who plays a key role in the film.‚ÄĚ
MANAA Founding President and former Hawaii resident Guy Aoki was unimpressed with the “Bumpy” namedrop and responded with:
‚ÄúYet somehow, in the end, Crowe hired at least 30 white actors, 5 actors to play Afghans, and the biggest roles for APIs were ‚ÄėIndian pedestrian,‚Äô ‚Äėupscale Japanese tourist,‚Äô and ‚Äėupscale restaurant guests.‚Äô ¬†They didn‚Äôt even have names. ¬†How can you educate your audience to the ‚Äėrich history‚Äô of Hawaii by using mostly white people and excluding the majority of the people who live there and who helped build that history?‚ÄĚ
Late Tuesday night, Crowe posted an apology to his official website, titled ‚ÄúA Comment on Allison Ng.‚ÄĚ In it, he writes:
I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice. As far back as 2007, Captain Allison Ng was written to be a super-proud ¬ľ Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one. A half-Chinese father was meant to show the surprising mix of cultures often prevalent in Hawaii. Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets. The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that.
Is this volcanic eruption over the casting of Emma Stone in Aloha Funny or Offensive? Vote and Comment now!