Film

Cameron Crowe Apologises For Casting Non-Eurasian Emma Stone As Eurasian Allison Ng; ‘Aloha’ Still Looks Terrible

It's all just a big bag of nope.

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It seems that with every passing day the list of reasons to not watch Cameron Crowe’s Aloha grows ever longer.

To start with, we had the the Hollywood Classic Age Gap that pairs a 26 year old Emma Stone with a 40 year old Bradley Cooper. Then we had the script being panned in a leaked email as part of the Sony hack scandal. And then, as the final reputation nail in the film’s awful-looking coffin, it was revealed that the very white Emma Stone would be portraying a Eurasian character.

Or, as Australian comedian Lawrence Leung puts it:

Hollywood loves whitewashing its films. Did you enjoy Edge of Tomorrow? My favorite part was how it was based on a book where Tom Cruise’s character was originally Japanese. How good is Breakfast at Tiffanys? Especially that bit where Mickey Rooney plays Mr Yunioshi, complete with squint, exaggerated accent and buck teeth. Thank you Hollywood — if I must see person of colour characters, I would much prefer they be played by white actors.

Even when they are “embracing” “diversity”, take a look at any blockbuster trailer. What race is the protagonist? What race is the first expendable character to be eaten by a dinosaur? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jurrasic World.)

As a Eurasian, my first response to the casting of Emma Stone in a mixed race role was a resounding NOPE. Both on screen and off, you so very rarely get to actually be Eurasian. Being of mixed heritage is never its own thing — instead you are shunted off to whichever side of your racial background your looks lean towards, and are merrily treated as such.

It is especially rare for a role to be specifically described as Eurasian — actors of mixed raced heritage usually just get put wherever they’ll “pass”.  I tried to think of other specifically Eurasian roles and drew a blank — so if this was one of the few opportunities out there to cast a Eurasian actress, why did the role go to Emma Stone?

I’m not the only one who was unimpressed.

Off the back of the wave of criticism crashing up against his film, director Cameron Crowe has written an apology, seeking to clarify the reasons for his casting choice.

“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.” Crowe says in a post on his personal blog.

“As far back as 2007, Captain Allison Ng was written to be a super-proud ¼ 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.”

He takes full responsibility, saying “Emma Stone was chief among those who did tireless research, and if any part of her fine characterization has caused consternation and controversy, I am the one to blame.”

That’s great and all, but his dedication to depicting one person’s racial background with 100% accuracy does not drown out the fact that he managed to create a film set in the culturally and racially diverse Hawaii with an all-white main cast.

“So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation,” he says. “I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.” Cool. Except that this was his opportunity to do just that.

Instead, here we are, with yet another whitewashed film alongside, and yet another vague promise to do better next time.

Aloha hits Australian cinemas on Thursday June 4.