Show and Tell Hawai'i

'Aloha' film-maker Crowe: 'I am the one to blame'

June 3rd, 2015


Filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who was at the center of the storm of controversy surrounding his Hawaii-filmed “Aloha,” has apologized for casting Emma Stone as one of his leads.

Accused of  “whitewashing,” Crowe — whose earlier film hits include “Jerry Maguire” and “Almost Famous” — offered an apology on his blog,

The most criticism, from viewers and bloggers alike, focused on the casting of Stone, whose character was supposed to be one-fourth Hawaiian and one-fourth Chinese, with haole heritage too. But clearly, she didn’t look like an Allison Ng, the name of her character, because of her classic blue-eyed-blonde looks.

2015, ALOHA“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 said on his blog after earlier supporting his film which he also said “felt like a misunderstood movie.”

With an A-list cast, including Brad Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray, the Sony release was a box office disaster in a weekend that featured homegrown Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson exploding and dominating the mall screens in “San Andreas,” a disaster film that was an audience favorite.

Crowe said that the Allison Ng character, proud to be a quarter Hawaiian with a half-Chinese father, was meant to reflect Hawaii’s racially mixed culture and popular. Alas, Stone didn’t look like a hapa-haole, though Crowe said “the character was based on a real-life, red-headed local,” who like Ng, was proud of her mixed blood heritage and compelled to explain her racially mixed at every opportunity.

The furor erupted when Guy Aoki,  a former Big Island resident who is the watchdog and voice of  the advocate group  Media Action Network for Asian-Americans (MANAA), alleged that "Aloha" was “whitewashing”  Hawaii’s rich and diverse culture and people, bemoaning the lack of Asian and Pacific faces in key roles (Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele is the exception, playing himself) . This was the first of a tidal wave of similar responses, from critics and bloggers alike.

Crowe’s mea culpa also included a shout-out to the Hawaii residents and the film community. “We were extremely proud to present the island, the locals and the film community with many jobs for over four months,” he said.
“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.”


One Response to “'Aloha' film-maker Crowe: 'I am the one to blame'”

  1. theDman:

    That was not a smart move, and it is insulting. This production was about getting as many high-profile actors as they could to fill the roles, hence the casting.

    I thought it was was proven that technique rarely works. Some people may be drawn to watch their favorite stars, but if the storyline is not there, you still have nothing.

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