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It's been a bumpy ride for Cameron Crowe's “Aloha.” Not only did the film get ravaged by former Sony Pictures chairwoman Amy Pascal's prior to release (in emails made public thanks to the Sony hackers), it suffered dismal reviews and underwhelming box office this weekend, bringing in less than $10 million domestically. But the internet isn't done slamming this movie yet, particularly when it comes to the casting of white actor Emma Stone as a quarter-Hawaiian, quarter-Chinese character named Allison Ng.
“Isn”t it so cool when a former white savior character [Stone in 'The Help'] gets to show her range by being a mystically exotic non-white savior character too?” snarks Jezebel's Jia Tolentino.
Vulture's E. Alex Jung, meanwhile, suggests that a number of actual mixed-race actresses including Olivia Munn and Sandrine Holt could have easily played the character, but that the filmmakers instead chose to exploit the idea that individuals of mixed Asian descent could technically look like Emma Stone, maybe:
“The twisted logic in 'Aloha' almost seems to be that since there”s a wide berth in the ways a person of mixed Asian descent could look, it would be fine, then, for a white person to play one of them. Being that it”s so rare to see roles that reflect mixed-race parentage, it”s disappointing that a plum opportunity went to a white actress. Yes, even in a bad Cameron Crowe film.”
In a post published Saturday, The Huffington Post's Claire Fallon interviewed Asian-American activist Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, who predictably slammed the film: “It's so typical for Asian or Pacific Islanders to be rendered invisible in stories that we're supposed to be in, in places that we live,” he said. “We're 60 percent of the population [in Hawaii]. We'd like them to reflect reality.”
Not that the casting of Emma Stone was the only problem. Needless to say, “Aloha” is overwhelmingly white, as pointed out by Complex contributor Kristen Yoonsoo Kim: “Weirdly, Crowe seems to think that Hawaii is, like, 99% white.” He then offered up a screenshot of the film's ivory IMDB page.
And from The Daily Beast's Jen Yamato, who compared the film to a certain rock and roll icon's famed string of '60s Hawaii movies: “'Aloha' falls more in line with the Elvis Presley tradition, in which Hawaiian concerns serve as plot-driving stepping stones for a white hero”s personal and romantic misadventures.”
Oh, but there's more. Even the title of the movie has stirred up controversy, with some activists charging the filmmakers with misappropriating and oversimplifying a word considered sacred by many native Hawaiians.
“[The word 'aloha'] been so appropriated in so many different ways – made into a commodity, made into a slogan,” said Ty Kawika Tengan, chair of the ethnic studies department at the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus, in an interview with the Associated Press. “It gets so divorced from important indigenous Hawaiian context. … It's romanticized, literally, into a romantic comedy.”
Twitter also had a field day with the film, with comedian Eli Braden tweeting:
The movie 'Aloha' is so bad, President Obama is now telling everyone he was born in Kenya
– Eli Braden (@EliBraden) May 30, 2015
So, Eli Braden wins.