As Vince noted in his review, Aloha features Emma Stone playing a half-Asian/half-Hawaiian fighter pilot named Alison Ng. This was a shocking bit of info because Emma Stone is surprisingly not Asian, and it gives some weight to the claims that the film was white-washing Hawaii.
It didn’t sit well with folks, as you can imagine, and many in the media lambasted the movie in reviews and thinkpieces. Pretty much the icing on the cake for Aloha and it’s long, chaotic production. That didn’t stop Cameron Crowe from attempting to calm the waters over on his blog. The director penned a personal note to those upset by the film’s casting choice, apologizing for offending them, but also providing some clarity on why it happened:
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.
You have to feel for the guy a bit. Either he’s so passionate about the project and the choices he made that he wants to make sure everybody understands, or he’s just deluded. I’d go with the former, judging from past work, but I’m usually wrong. I am not sure where Emma Stone is a proper choice for such a role at any point in production, but she’s a marketable star. That’d be the only real reason I could see her being cast (not that it helped matters at all).
Judging from the review, this is far from Aloha’s only problem.