Media Monday: Aloha (the movie)

Okay so full disclosure: I haven’t seen this movie and actively plan to avoid watching it for so many different reasons. Rather than reviewing then, I wanted to share the many criticisms that have been thrown at the movie over the past few weeks. These criticisms are incredibly important because many highlight the whitewashing nature of Hollywood and the tendency of the US to use the Hawaiian islands as some white person tourist spot.

One of the biggest criticisms to come out of the movie is the fact that one of the main characters is multiracial (Chinese/Hawaiian/Swedish if I remember correctly?) but is played by the very white actress Emma Stone. This is of course a huge problem because it helps to erase Asian Americans from the big screens, a diversity problem that repeatedly occurs for many people of color. There have been many critiques of Emma Stone’s casting, not because she is a terrible actress or anything like that but that people of color are regularly overlooked and underrepresented in the media (even in stories that are supposed to include/be about them). Some of the critiques include:

  • Emma Stone plays a part Asian character in ‘Aloha’ and that’s not okay
  • WTF ‘Aloha’: Why is Emma Stone Asian and Other Problems
  • I’m not buying Emma Stone as an Asian American in ‘Aloha’
  • ‘Aloha’ draws Accusations of Whitewashing Hawaii

There are more criticisms following the movie, including the fact that there are some native Hawaiians who disapprove of the movie’s title:

The concerns are based largely on a trailer that depicts a military-themed love-story that appears devoid of a genuine connection to Hawaiian culture.

“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,” said Walter Ritte, a Native Hawaiian activist on the island of Molokai. “They’re taking our sacred word … and they’re going to make a lot of money off of it.”

And it’s not just the casting and complete whitewashing of Hawaii that draw criticisms. One review from the Associated Press wrote about the incoherent story line, saying that even with a star studded cast:

…in execution, “Aloha” is a meandering, needlessly confusing cacophony of story, performance, and spiritual blather. Not only does it feel inauthentic, it’s often downright alien.

Overall, I haven’t heard any good things about this movie. And the reactions from Sony regarding the criticisms have also been really problematic. I’m definitely planning to avoid seeing the movie.

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