Cameron Crowe has weathered quite a bit of criticism for Aloha, his most recent film about men being the best men they can be when women drop everything to help them do so. However, most of the attention revolved around Crowe’s casting of Emma Stone as Allison Ng, a character of Hawaiian and Asian heritage. Given that Stone is almost the same shade of pale as a whiteboard (or “Stoneboard,” as they’ve begun calling the classroom accessories), many felt this was part of the long Hollywood tradition of whitewashing.
Crowe actually ended up offering an apology, saying that his real-life inspiration for the character resulted in a casting choice that many took as misguided. (Yes, it’s the “sorry if you were offended” kind of apology, but he seemed genuinely thoughtful, and understood why people were upset.) And now, Emma Stone herself has weighed in on the controversy. In a new interview with News.com.au, the actress acknowledges being cast as a part-Asian might not have been the best idea. “I’ve become the butt of many jokes,” she says, because she’s Emma Stone, and being sensible and good-natured about things is hardwired into her non-Asian DNA.
I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.
She also defended her director, pointing out the character wasn’t supposed to look Asian, implication being that it wasn’t a bad casting choice so much as a bad idea to begin with. But Emma Stone is too nice to come right out and say that, so she’ll just point out how the role was written, and then let you think it.
She also discussed another issue Hollywood might want to take a closer look at, namely the casting an older man and a woman half his age as love interests. Again, Stone didn’t mince words about the issue, because then she wouldn’t be Emma Stone. (She’d be Bono.)
It’s rampant in Hollywood and it’s definitely been that way for a long time, both culturally and in movies…when I did Magic In The Moonlight Colin Firth and I talked about the gap which was huge, absolutely, because he was born the same year as my dad. There’s a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealised way. There are some flaws in the system. My eyes have been opened in many ways this year.
Setting aside the worrying possibility that Emma Stone is capable of having even wider eyes than she already possesses, this all seems like a refreshing and honest acknowledgment of the myriad ways the film industry is still mired in the past, clinging to outdated and stupid uses of race, gender, and age. The TL;DR version of her comments is basically “Hollywood is fucked up.” Emma Stone, you are free to start using our summary of your thoughts, should you care to.