This headache called Aloha keeps giving and giving for writer-director Cameron Crowe. He was moved to apologize on his personal website last night for criticism over casting Emma Stone to play a mixed-race Asian character Allison Ng, who is described in the film as a quarter Asian and a quarter Hawaiian.
Now, Crowe has been put through the wringer on this film since all those hacked Sony e-mails. But it seems worth injecting a reality check here. There is no way that Sony Pictures would have allowed Crowe to cast an unknown actress for the lead in that movie who hailed from Hawaii, not when Emma Stone (who was largely holding up its Amazing Spider-Man franchise at the time) was ready to commit to this film over the 30 other offers she was likely weighing at the moment. If any young actress would be considered bankable, it’s her. Basically, what would have happened was that Crowe would have rewritten the description of Stone’s character to avoid the politically correct cops. Sure it’s unfair, but it is just the way the movie business works. Welcome to Hollywood.
Here is Crowe’s apology:
“From the very beginning of its appearance in the Sony Hack, Aloha has felt like a misunderstood movie. One that people felt they knew a lot about, but in fact they knew very little. It was a small movie, made by passionate actors who wanted to join me in making a film about Hawaii, and the lives of these characters who live and work in and around the island of Oahu.
Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng. 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 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.
Whether that story point felt hurtful or humorous has been, of course, the topic of much discussion. 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.
We were extremely proud to present the island, the locals and the film community with many jobs for over four months. 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.”