Cameron Crowe Pens Apology for Casting Emma Stone as Part-Asian Character in ‘Aloha’

After receiving so much backlash for casting Emma Stone in a part-Asian role in his newest movie Aloha, director Cameron Crowe has penned an apology.

Stone played Allison Ng, who is described in the film as a quarter Asian and a quarter Hawaiian, alongside Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams.

Crowe wrote and explained on his website,

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.

Crowe continued to say in his letter,

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.

Aloha has been faced with more than what could be considered just a hiccup: in addition to the controversy surrounding Stone’s casting, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans accused the film of insulting Hawaii’s markedly diverse culture, commenting,

Caucasians only make up 30% of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99%. This comes in a long line of films – The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Blue Crush, Pearl Harbor – that uses Hawaii for its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there. It’s an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.

Furthermore, the film’s movie title “Aloha” came under fire by some native Hawaiians. Walter Ritte, a Native Hawaiian activist on the island of Molokai, told the AP, “If you have a romantic comedy about the military in Hawaii … but a title that says ‘Aloha,’ I can only guess that they’ll bastardize the word. They’re taking our sacred word … and they’re going to make a lot of money off of it.”

Sony reps were compelled to stand by and defend the film in light of the serious backlash. That all being said, Aloha currently has 18% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made a disappointing $10 million at the box office in its opening weekend last weekend.