Cameron Crowe's apology for casting Emma Stone as Asian


#22


#23

This film is the cure-all for insomnia!


#24

Yeah, I’m with the minority here who think that if the character was written to be 1/4 Hawaiian (which would be Polynesian, not Asian, although the Ng surname suggests Asian heritage) and specifically was supposed to NOT look mixed-race, then it’s appropriate to have someone who doesn’t look mixed-race. And if Emma Stone really did all that preparation for the part, then it sounds like the character was thoughtfully portrayed.

It’s actually more common than you think, to not look like a stereotype of mixed-race genetics.


#25

She’s meant to be 1/4/ Hawaiian AND 1/4 Chinese, apparently.


#26

Oh. Well. That does put a different spin on things. I’ve known 1/4 Japanese or Chinese with blonde curly hair, but once you get to at least 1/2 Asian/Polynesian it’s reasonable to expect dark (not necessarily black) hair. Did Stone dye her hair, at least?


#27

The real life lady had red hair…

FWIW, my wife is half Korean but that very often surprises people.
She’s certainly amazing to look at (way above my pay grade) and vaguely something other than white… :smile:


#28

I think much of the supposed “outrage” (interesting dismissal, that) over this casting choice comes from an awareness of the history of Asian erasure in Hollywood films, and in popular entertainment generally. Not only do Asian characters very rarely appear, when they do they’re often played by white people, and the characters, whether played by people who are visibly “Asian” or by white people, are often mere caricatures.

So into that context comes a movie about Hawaii, called “Aloha,” that’s put together by a white guy. Hawaii is of course a highly multiracial place, with a lot of Asian and part-Asian people to boot, yet the movie contains fourteen characters, all of whom are white, and who are thus, of course, played by white-looking actors. Except for one character, who’s half-Asian, but also played by an actor that looks, and has long been perceived as (and actually is), very white. Sure, the character is one that looks white, but why does that part of the script have to stay that way? Scripts suddenly can’t be changed?

Maybe a better term than “whitewashing” here is Columbusing. This movie sounds like yet another trip to yet another pleasant, exotic, non-white-peopled setting (although of course, some white people live there too), which is being used as the mere backdrop for yet another instance of white center-staging. Sadly, it’s no surprise, even in 2015, that the white people involved in this film wouldn’t think to include someone who looks even part Asian among the central characters. Maybe that erasure should inspire “outrage,” but among those who care, because they can see in it yet another instance of Asian (and actual Hawaiian) erasure, the feeling seems to be more like, “Meh, same old same old from the White Entertainment Complex.”


#29

Well, when the character is based on a real life person, and one of the quirks of that real life person is that she looks white, but often spends time explaining to people that she’s not fully white, but also part Hawaiian (and also Chinese?), you’re going to lose that particularly interesting quirk of that character’s personality.

I’m all for getting angry about the lack of OTHER non-white characters in the film… But getting angry about this particular one seems misplaced.


#30

Who’s getting “angry”? And why?


#31

What real life person? It’s not like this movie is a biography.And whether or not it’s based on a real person, it’s a choice he made to make a movie in Hawaii about a 1/4 asian woman who doesn’t look asian. Like that’s some kind of joke or something?

Maybe he was trying to create a conversation around race in Hawaii, where they definitely have some issues that run deep. I’ve been there a few times, and there’s a lot of tension between the Polynesian residents and the Haole, aka the whites. Then there’s the “other asian” and mixed populations that share some of the same tension. It’s a melting pot to be sure, but it’s not an entirely happy one. But if that was his goal, I’m guessing it’s not really addressed deeply in the movie because, well first because he’s Cameron Crowe and second because Cameron Crowe is white. And not from Hawaii.

Anyway, all this is a lot of absurd outrage and high-minded bullshit for what, by all indications, is just a really crappy and dumb romantic comedy set in Hawaii that will bomb at the box office and everyone will forget about in a month. Let’s all just go watch 50 First Dates again and be done with this debate.


#32

I know what you mean, since we’re not even presumed to be “vaguely something other than white” except with people who know what to look for. Red hair is a bit of a shocker, though, unless the 1/4 Polynesian and 1/4 Chinese were not from the same parent. It can happen, of course; western Chinese ethnic minorities, for example.

Genetics is a fun thing.


#33

What you’re saying makes a lot of sense.

The apology as presented at the top of the page makes it sound like the movie was carefully considered and put together based on the original story. But some posts, including yours, make it sound like this is yet another vapid movie not worth paying $10-12 for. I don’t know the story, or the movie, so I’m reacting only to what’s written here.

I think there are probably enough young adults with an interest in acting that it would be possible to put out a call for “20-something female at least 1/4 Asian or Polynesian but looks northern European” and get some good auditions. However, I don’t know if there are any box-office-draws who fit the bill. (I’m really not knowledgeable about Hollywood…where’s @Donald_Petersen?)


#34

The casting call probably said:

Wanted, A-list actress ~15 years younger than Bradley Cooper to play his love interest, who for the sake of variety this time around, isn’t Jennifer Lawrence.


#35

Presumably, the people that were complaining to Cameron Crowe about his casting choice for this character, which resulted in this apology. And based on his apology, because he cast her in the role.

You’re right, it’s not a biography. But it’s (according to his apology, at least) a character based on a real person that he found interesting. I mean, he could have excluded her entirely, as a character, and just made her another white chick (or just ignored that quirk of her character and made her a “native” Hawaiian), but based on the descriptions here and elsewhere on the net, it at least sounds like a somewhat interesting character quirk in an otherwise completely unremarkable (based on the trailers, any way) romcom.


#36

And Singles! (“Touch Me, I’m Dick”).


#37

um, yes? Someone like that would not that hard to find, part-hawaiian people exist on the real hawaiian islands, it turns out.

Plus in the original book she was also 1/4 Chinese. Someone with that kind of phenotype mix would probably not look like Emma Stone even if they were light-skinned


#38

This happens to hit uncomfortably close to home today. Can’t really talk about it here; PM me if you want the story.

Generically speaking, though, @daneel is much more right than wrong. But I wouldn’t really expect to find too many quarter-Asian or quarter-Polynesian folks that happen to look northern European (especially redheaded) due to the recessive nature of that fair-skinned, redheaded phenotype. And then you need a narrow age range of women who are interested (and good at) acting who speak the language and are available to casting directors, and then you need someone who’s enough of a box-office draw that the studio approves their casting. Somebody like that undoubtedly exists somewhere in the world, but probably not on the list of people the studio would deem bankable enough to get the part. This particular role is awfully specific. The casting call you named (“20-something female at least 1/4 Asian or Polynesian but looks northern European”) might produce, I dunno, twenty candidates (if that), three of which might have the chops for the part, but none of whom might be notable enough to get second billing on a big studio picture.

And that right there is the studio’s fault.


#39

I just did a quick google. Admittedly, none of these actresses have quite the box office draw of Stone.


#40

So even though you didn’t spend a minute or two Googling who’s angry and why, it’s still worth your time to write a comment here saying they don’t seem to have any reasonable cause to be upset?

Anyway, here’s a start, despite the usual overstated headline about “outrage.”


#41

I gotta say, though, Hailee Steinfeld and Chloe Bennett have just about the perfect look for this part, with a dollop of hair color.