Cameron Crowe Shouldn’t Apologise For Casting Emma Stone In ALOHA

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Cameron Crowe has taken a lot of flack for his latest film, Aloha. The bad buzz started during the infamous Sony hacks when it was revealed that studio head Amy Pascal didn’t like the script. Some critics could smell blood in the water and ripped into the film when it was released in the US last month (it banked a little over $10 million on its debut).

Movies In Focus hasn’t seen the movie (it doesn’t hit the UK until September) but I don’t think Crowe deserves the hammering he’s getting for casting Emma Stone as Allison Ng, a character who is one-quarter Hawaiian, with a half Chinese father. I’m no geneticist , but isn’t there a (slim) statistical possibility that the redheaded actress could be of such an origin?

Movies are a fantasy and they’re not based on reality – that’s their beauty. However, many people today like to complain about casting (too sexist, too racist) but the reality of the medium is …that there is no reality. The bottom line is that if Emma Stone wanted the role, then Emma Stone would get the role. Stone is one of the most bankable young actresses around and her casting opposite Bradley Cooper probably helped get the film made (it was originally set to star Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon). Sure, Crowe could have rewritten Stone’s character once she signed on but Hollywood has been filled with bizarre casting over the years – be it Charlton Heston as a Mexican or Tom Cruise as an Irishman.

Cameron Crowe shouldn’t be criticised for Aloha – he should be prasied and allowed to make the original films he wants to make – especially as we live in a time when Hollywood only wants to make films based on existing properties.

Here’s the statement by Cameron Crowe that was originally published on his site – The Uncool.

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.