Not cool. Cameron Crowe took to his personal website The Uncool on Tuesday, June 2, to apologize for a major controversy surrounding his new movie Aloha.
The romantic dramedy has been widely criticized for its white-washed portrayal of the Hawaiian islands, enlisting an almost entirely Caucasian roster of stars and raising eyebrows in particular for the casting of Emma Stone. Stone, 26, stars alongside Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride as Allison Ng, a woman who is one-quarter Hawaiian with a half-Chinese father.
Filmmaker Crowe, who has been celebrated in the past for works like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, acknowledged the backlash against the Arizona-born actress of Swedish, Pennsylvania Dutch, English, Scottish, and Irish descent playing an Asian character.
“Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng,” Crowe wrote in his note. “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heartfelt 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 1/4 Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one,” the director continued. “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.”
“Whether that story point felt hurtful or humorous has been, of course, the topic of much discussion,” Crowe added. “However I am so proud that in the same movie, we employed many Asian-American, Native-Hawaiian and Pacific-Islanders, both before and behind the camera… including Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele, and his village, and many other locals who worked closely in our crew and with our script to help ensure authenticity.”
Crowe went on to further defend Aloha, just one week after distributor Sony Pictures was forced to do the same. The movie company stood by Crowe and his flick, maintaining that an emphasis was put on diversity and inclusion.
“We were extremely proud to present the island, the locals, and the film community with many jobs for over four months,” Crowe continued in his statement. “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. I am grateful for the dialogue. And from the many voices, loud and small, I have learned something very inspiring. So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation, and I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.”
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