Why? Because the Oscar-nominated actress plays Allison Ng, a Hawaiian woman who falls in love with Bradley Cooper's character, military contractor Brian Gilcrest. Allison also happens to be "part-Asian," which Emma is not in real life.
Following the film's debut last Friday, critics slammed director Cameron Crowe for casting Emma in the role, saying he should have used an Asian actress instead. For example, Entertainment Weekly's Chris Lee wrote, "Accepting Emma Stone as an Asian-American in Aloha requires a certain suspension of disbelief and no small amount of magical thinking."
Meanwhile, Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) blasted Cameron, saying he "whitewashed" Asian-Pacific Islanders out of the film set in Hawaii, according to the New York Post.
After the filmmaker caught wind of the chatter, he addressed the backlash on his blog, writing, "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," he continued. "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," he went on. "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."He added that Emma did "tireless research" for her role and to blame him, and not her, for any "consternation and controversy" her casting has caused. In spite of everything that has been said, Cameron appeared to take it in strides, adding, "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."
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