The Asian American Internets have been on fire since the release of Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, featuring white actress Emma Stone as a mixed-race (Chinese- Hawaiian-Swedish) fighter pilot Allison Ng (like “ring” without the “r”!). Clearly, I think Cameron Crowe made a terrible choice to cast Emma Stone as Allison Ng. Not because her appearances aren’t believable (I know hapas can have a variety of physical appearances), but really in an industry where actors are often selected project a certain very obvious image that reinforces the character or themes the movie is trying to evoke, and when entertainment as a career field is so limited for Asian faces, it’s such a opportunity wasted.There’s also the issue of how Hawaii — the place, the culture and the people — are portrayed. These are also very important concerns, and I admit that I don’t have first-hand perspective on this, but I do get the generally uncomfortable feeling that this is another story of brown people seen through the white lens. Of course, I know Hollywood is not in the business of social justice. I have a lot of thoughts about this, but every time I try to write about it, I get detoured into some rabbit hole…
Does anyone besides Asian Americans care about Asian representation in entertainment?
What does it mean to identify as mixed-race? If a person doesn’t look Asian or mixed, how does that affect their “Asian-ness”?
Is the political alliance between Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders working?
I’m going to have to mull on all these things for a while to see what bubbles up as pertinent for me to share my thoughts on. I don’t live in Hawaii, and my experiences there as a visitor are pretty limited. So many other people who are much more qualified to offer insight and opinions on this.
‘Aloha’ Draws Accusions of ‘Whitewashing’ Hawaii, by Michael Nguyen at NBC Asian America
Emma Stone Played an Asian American in Aloha, from Vulture
I’m not buying Emma Stone as an Asian American, by Chris Lee at EW
VIDEO: Hollywood’s appropriation of Hawaiian Culture, by Janet Mock at MSNBC
Waimanolo Blues, Nate Chinen at Slate
Land, Power, and Filmmaking in Hawaii: My Firsthand Look at the Filming of Aloha, by Shay Chan Hodges at BlogHer
Yea, ‘Aloha’ is Super White, But What is Up With the Way We Are Talking About It? by Sharon H. Chang at Multiracial Asian Families
The whitewashing of Allison Ng isn’t alone in casting white actors in Asian roles, by Paula Young Lee at Salon and check out the hashtag #LetsCastAsiansinAsianRoles
Hollywood’s “Strange” Erasure of Asian Characters, by Jenn Fang at Reappropriate
Skipping (Emma) Stones – Au Revoir #Aloha – Eating (Cameron) Crowe by Erin Quill at Fairy Princess Diaries
These Actresses are Not Asian or Pacific Islanders (list of actresses who are actually mixed-race) by Keith Chow at Nerds of Color
Say Aloha to Whitewashing: Cameron Crowe’s New Film Perpetuates Erasure of People of Color by April Reign at BlogHer