The Fairy Princess wrote about Tilda Swinton being cast as an Ancient Tibetian…er, Ancient Tibetian ONE, and she thought she was finished with Hollywood Casting Idiocy for one week, but then she woke up and everyone was shoving the spirit of ALOHA down her throat and asking what she thought of it.
Not the ‘real’ Aloha spirit, the No Star/All Star vision of Hawaii that director Cameron Crowe put together, that ALOHA.
Have you heard about this movie, Oh my Pussycat Doll Nicole Sherzinger? What say you?
You were born in Hawaii, you are Native Hawaiian, Ukranian and Filipino….what do you think of this movie?
TFP really did not think she needed to say anything, mainly because there are other writers doing a bang up job of pointing out the absurdness of what went on while casting this film – Paula Young Lee wrote a scathing piece for SALON, Kristin Yoonsoon Kim’s incredulity at the hubris of this decision was available for all to see on COMPLEX, Chris Lee could not have been clearer on not buying Emma Stone as Asian in Entertainment Weekly, Jen Yamato writing for The Daily Beast was entertaining and totally on point, Jia Tolentino writing for Jezebel gave us a very effective lesson on what is an archipelago and who are Pacific Islanders, TFP kinda thought this whole topic was covered, and she did not have to write anything about it, for which she was grateful.
Then Cameron Crowe’s website asked people what they thought of ALOHA and when TFP took a gander, (mostly because she wanted to see people tell him off) most people on his website, who are fans of his, said that they loved it but wanted a Directors Cut.
A DIRECTOR’S CUT?!?!?
“Ok”, thought TFP, “so some rabid fans will always love whatever Cameron Crowe does, whatever“
Then she read a comment that said something like – in regards to Emma Stone playing a person of Asian/Pacific Islander heritage – Emma Stone’s casting was justified because the character was also supposed to be 1/2 Caucasian.
Which then prompted THIS thought in TFP‘s head –
Look, TFP has been to Hawaii probably 20 times in her life, mainly on her way to Australia to visit relatives. When she was young, visiting Hawaii via air travel to Oz meant that they locked you in a remote hangar in Oahu where you could SEE trees and so on, but you could not go out and run around in Hawaii. You had to sit and be decontaminated for 9 hours in a single hangar that did not even have a vending machine. It was awful.
Then, as an Adult, ok Adult-ish, she did get to go to Hawaii a few times, and she loved it – mainly because while walking around Hawaii, she was able to fit in.
Because you see, Dear Reader, TFP is what they would refer to in Hawaii as a Hapa.
That’s the meaning – originally it was to say ‘half’, and now it is more ‘at least part’ – it acknowledges the combination of peoples in a way that most APIs today find acceptable.
In fact, Hapas have become our own thing, and we willingly self acknowledge one another with this term, because the truth is, Diversity among Hapas is very broad and uniting under a term that is a shorthand is somewhat of a relief. No one has to go into “Well my Mom was…’ also, we can usually all tell, amongst ourselves, who falls into our group….not always, but often enough.
Perhaps the rabid fan of Cameron Crowe had never seen what a combination of Asian/Caucasian looks like – or did not realize that they have indeed seen what Hapa looks like, like apparently she has never viewed International Film Star, Keanu Reeves
so despite TFP having NO INTENTION of seeing ALOHA (because it garnered a WHOPPING ZERO STARS and TFP does not waste her time on movies with no stars, she has a kid) she CAN speak about what a Hapa person looks like, to those who do not know – being that she IS one herself.
As a kind of a Public Service Announcement to those who believe Mixed Race folks always turn out blindingly Caucasian.
(Looking at YOU, Cameron Crowe)
TFP is Asian and Caucasian and that combination begets a certain look, and the reason this is ‘a thing’ today is because one of the main characters in the film ALOHA is being played by a Caucasian woman who self-identifies as a Hapa from Hawaii within the context of the film.
Perhaps Mr. Crowe and his rabid fan are just…living in someplace other than Hawaii or the United States of America in general, but when Asian and Caucasian genes collide, there is a general look to their descendants.
Which is why, when she was in Hawaii, TFP often was given a ‘locals’ price as opposed to a tourist’s price – WHY?
Why would they do that – because to Hawaiians, Hapas are an identifiable group.
Hawaiians see Hapas – and the first part of representation and owning ones identity, is when people who do not know you, see and acknowledge you for who you are – Hapas are people who have a foot in more than one genetic pool.
As many Americans have not quite caught up to the Hawaiians in this regard, TFP felt very comfortable in Hawaii – no explanations were required anywhere she went – and she got the ‘locals’ price, which was great!
Now, pointing out that there is a ‘look’ to a particular group is not a racist thing to do, it is an acknowledgment – acknowledging that there is a genetic combination that happens is not a belittlement of a people. It just is.
Miss Universe 1997, Brook Mahealani Lee
Whilst yes, it is possible to have a Hapa who has blonde hair, that generally does not happen with someone who is strictly half Asian/Asian Pacific Islander, and the other half is Caucasian.
Isabella Russo from Broadway’s SCHOOL OF ROCK
That would be a Punnett Square improbability.
A Punnett square was devised to give the potential outcome of genetic inheritance based on Dominant and Recessive traits. The darker the ‘trait’, the more likely that it would be dominant. One parent with black hair, one parent with blonde hair, the child will generally have darker hair than the blonde parent. One parent with blue eyes, one parent with brown eyes, the child will likely have brown eyes, or perhaps hazel, but blue would be highly unlikely unless the parent with brown eyes has a blue eyed gene within them that may/may not combine.
Oh heck – look at this photo, TFP, who is 4/8 Irish and 1/8 Welsh, and 3/8 Chinese does NOT have Blue Eyes.
TFP’s father had bright as the sky blue eyes and her Mother has deep deep brown eyes, did TFP get blue eyes? Nope. Here she is, not very Asian at all genetically, and yet – hazel eyes. Why?
Punnett Square Crazy 8 Ball says because that is what all signs point to. Dominant traits.
Now, TFP‘s Nieces, who are some sort of a 1/16 th Chinese, DO have blue eyes and blonde hair – and that coincides with what that Punnett Square graphic demonstrates above. Simply put, one has to have the least amount of dominant traits to achieve blonde hair and blue eyes – especially in those of Asian descent. They are BEYOND cute. Seriously, so cute. Can’t post photos, someone would steal them – that cute.
Blonde Asians happen – they happen in TFP‘s family – but only after the 3rd to 4th generational mix.
TFP can tell you – her Maternal Grandfather was fully Chinese and born in Australia. Her Maternal Grandmother was Chinese and Welsh and born in Australia. None of their children married Asians of any kind. Therefore their grandchildren were all less than half Chinese. Of those 8 Grandchildren, one was blonde. His Father was Blonde and of English descent. Out of those 3 siblings, there was ONE count that again – ONE Blonde. He was 5/8 Caucasian and 3/8 Asian and he was, yes, a blonde child.
However had TFP‘s Grandmother been 100 per cent Chinese heritage – that one blonde first cousin would not have been blonde. He would have had darker hair.
OF COURSE THERE CAN BE EXCEPTIONS – DON”T SEND PHOTOS TO PROVE YOUR CHILD IS THE MIRACULOUS SECOND COMING OF WHITE WALKER ASIANS – however beautiful the exception, they do not the ‘rule’ make.
The scientific rule is – dominant traits are going to be more present than recessive.
It is just science.
It’s not personal.
Do recessive traits dominate in certain countries? Of course! In Europe, in Ireland, in the Netherlands and surrounding parts of the world, there is a ton of people with blonde hair and blue eyes – and of course, their diaspora has moved their genetics around to the point where someone can hail from a country where, genetically, their ancestors did not originate but where their light features have dominated to the extent that they go forward as representatives of what ‘their’ country looks like.
Some of the hottest people on the planet are indeed blonde – however being universally admired as attractive for these traits does not make them the ONLY people on the planet. It does not make them the only people in Hawaii either – and that IS the point. Hawaii is ethnically diverse – only 26.6% of the population is strictly Caucasian, according to the Government.
There is a wide range of Hapa Actresses out there who could represent the Great State of Hawaii’s diversity and match the character description of a 20 something fighter pilot who is a female 1/4 Native Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese, 1/2 Caucasian….. TFP is not saying they have to be exactly the ethnic makeup of the character, percentage-wise – but they should be able to be believed as a woman who is essentially 1/2 Asian/NativeHawaiian and 1/2 Caucasian. In TFP‘s opinion both as a Hapa and as a moviegoer – this is the way to make the film credible.
Had Director Cameron Crowe had cast any of those Actresses, or he had simply gone to Hawaii and done a ‘Local” Casting and found someone at say, the Hawaii International Film Festival, which highlights films about Hawaii as well as other festival-type films, TFP would have gone and seen ALOHA.
Even if there were the pre-existing condition of ZERO stars.
Because for a director to care enough about his self penned screenplay to set up genetic structures for a character, so he could then cast accordingly, that would be enough to earn TFP’s ticket dollar. She would go to see what he had done.
That was not Cameron Crowe’s decision – after months of self-admitted research and field trips to Hawaii, after mixing with the locals and indeed, some Native Hawaiians, Mr. Crowe decided that this was what a Hapa woman in modern day Hawaii looks like:
And that makes TFP, as a Hapa, and as a HUMAN being kinda like…
Because the way the character of Alison Ng is described – specifically – 1/4 Native Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese, and 1/2 Caucasian is a choice that Mr. Crowe made as a Screenwriter and then chose to ignore as a Director.
The most infuriating part about this whole situation is that there was no need to label Emma Stone’s Alison Ng as Hapa. She could have had another last name, but been born in Hawaii. She could have been a cousin of Bette Midler. They could have said she has a Stepfather, they could have just said she was adopted, but NO – they GAVE HER ETHNICITY to further some plot point about assimilation and land co-option and then they IGNORED IT!
They erased what a ‘real’ Alison Ng would have looked liked because they wanted to cast Emma Stone. You want to cast Emma Stone and her delightful perkiness – go ahead, you are Cameron Crowe – you get to say anything, right?
No, you do not get to say that anyone gets to play Hapa – not everyone can be that lucky.
Gold Medalist, Apolo Anton Ohno
Let TFP put it this way – would you cast Emma Stone to play a person who was 1/4 African, 1/4 Creole, and 1/2 Caucasian?
This is the same thing, and while TFP is beyond caring about this bad movie, she is not past being furious at the disregard that underrepresented peoples are given in a film that is supposed to be, in part, about underrepresented peoples!
And may we talk for one moment to Ms. Emma Stone, gliding along into a role where her character gleefully states that she (the character) is 1/4 Native Hawaiian and 1/4 Chinese…
Ms. Stone, how, as an Actress can you spout off an ethnicity, as a character, without fully considering that the person you are to inhabit has struggles based on heritage and co-option that you, as a Non-Native Hawaiian and Non- Asian, have absolutely no cultural touchstone for?
Which is, from all reports, what the movie is supposed to actually be about – well, kinda, well…that is the backdrop isn’t it? Land grabs and erasure of a Native Peoples while also having assimilation – do you really feel that you, as a person of no Asian heritage and no Pacific Islander heritage could bring authenticity to that aspect of the character?
Well, we all look forward to your portrayal of other ethnic women – perhaps Imelda Marcos is next on the list?
Or the Anna May Wong biopic that has been floating around forever?
TFP is sure, with Cameron Crowe’s great love of other cultures that is his going to sign up to direct the remake of the classic film, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA – and you know what?
THERE IS PROBABLY A PART IN IT FOR YOU!
You could play the Bride from China with the Green Eyes!
TFP cannot WAIT!
Not to mention how excited Kim Catrall seems to be at the prospect!
In all seriousness, Ms. Stone – TFP thinks you should have stood up for yourself a bit more – and should have gone to the myopic director and said “You know, this doesn’t really sit right, playing a Eurasian woman – we are not in the 1940’s any more – can’t she just be from Hawaii? Does she have to be Native? Could she maybe have an Asian Stepfather or something that would give her the last name Ng?”
Because honestly, Ms. Stone – with all your alerting the media to causes with your Ex, you probably know that taking this part as written, was not the right thing to do. But you did it anyway.
TFP is hugely disgruntled that Ms. Emma Stone, who usually chooses wisely and well, dropped the ball here.
Bad Emma Stone!
There are those who think this is not a big deal – we disagree. It is a big deal – because anytime an Ethnic group is displaced from the visual landscape, a landscape upon which they are meant by actual population to be seen, it is a big deal. It is a HUGE deal.
If after reading this, or any of the other TFP posts about the importance of Diversity, about the intrinsic value of learning to see and thus value other people, people who are all around, but never acknowledged in Hollywoodland…which bleeds into not being respected and acknowledged in real life, IF YOU STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IS A BIG DEAL well then…
For those who like to think “oh well, now they have learned and will not do this again’- think again – Director Cameron Crowe and his ethnic tomfoolery is here to stay- his new pilot has a blonde lady with a Chinese surname and a Native American playing a Native Hawaiian!
(Do not even go there with the Ice Bridge – WHY does a Native American have to play a Native Hawaiian? Can’t they just change the character to BE Native American and give Native American’s a nice lead on the small screen?)
So there’s that.
All right – for crimes of representation against Hapa people, specifically those with Native Hawaiian ancestry, TFP sentences Cameron Crowe and Emma Stone to FIFTY Whacks of the Wand – not only is this a badly reviewed movie, but it is a movie that erases the heritage of mixed raced people from the big screen.
And, is that ok Ms. Visage?
No. No, it’s not.