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Cameron Crowe Apologizes For ‘Aloha’, Casting Emma Stone as a Native Hawaiian

Emma Stone Aloha
Sony Pictures

Aloha may have opened to scathing reviews and poor box office, but the latest film from writer/director Cameron Crowe did touch a nerve. It just so happened to a nerve that no one ever wants to touch. Despite being set on Hawaii, the cast is chock-full of the whitest white people in Hollywood, including Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski and Alec Baldwin. That wouldn’t have been a problem if the only character with a distinctly Hawaiian background wasn’t played by the ludicrously pale Emma Stone. Yes, Stone was cast as a character named Allison Ng, so you can see why feathers were ruffled, especially since Hollywood already has a poor track record with racial representation in movies.

To Crowe’s credit, he responded to these complaints and observations with a blog post where he explained his casting choice and, more importantly, offered a heartfelt apology for hurting anyone.

Crowe’s apology is concise and to-the-point. He acknowledges the controversy and thanks his critics for opening a dialogue. Then he explains that the character of Allison Ng, the very white Hawaiian, is based on a real person:

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.

That doesn’t change the fact that Crowe has an opportunity to write a role for a person of color and deliberately chose to create a character who looks like, well, Emma Stone. In his post, Crowe goes on to praise the local Hawaiian actors and crew members who made the movie happen, but he ultimately takes all responsibility for anyone who was offended. Blame him, he says, not Stone:

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.

Crowe concludes by saying that he’s “anxious” to tell stories with better racial representation in the future. While we believe that he sees and understands how this casting kerfuffle would upset people, that is a statement that requires him to put his money where his mouth is. Let’s see what happens with his next movie.

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