Emma Stone’s Aloha role caused so much controversy that (some) Hollywood execs are reportedly rethinking their silly decisions to cast white actors as every type of ethnicity.
According to this article in The Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood is “on alert” for potential offensive castings. Besides our own post about Aloha’s Asian erasure, groups like the Media Action Network for Asian Americans also criticized the movie’s rabid whitewashing.
Aloha’s director Cameron Crowe later apologized, post-backlash, and now it looks like (some) Hollywood producers are being extra cautious to avoid a similar fate—and, let’s face it, to protect their box office profits.
THR mentions Warner Bros, which was already walking on egg shells with its Peter Pan castings, given the original play’s “racial insensitivities” that include a song called What Made the Red Man Red?” Their Rooney Mara casting was immediately kiboshed:
...Choosing Rooney Mara — an actress of Irish, German and French-Canadian ancestry — to play Pan’s Tiger Lily prompted an outcry, with 90,000 people signing a Care2 petition in protest. Now, as Pan heads for an Oct. 9 release, it enters a cultural landscape of increased racial sensitivities around film and television casting and a social media environment that amplifies those concerns. Warners, ironically, has been branded as insensitive for attempting to offer a color-blind, modern Pan.
A source working on the Peter Pan remake says:
“There’s a misconception about the ethnicity of the original character and we felt no obligation to perpetuate that misconception. We looked at Native American actresses. We looked at African-American actresses. We looked at African actresses. We looked at Middle Eastern actresses. White actresses. After a very exhaustive casting process, we ultimately went with the best actress for the part.”
Quotes from other Hollywood insiders:
Producer Doug Wick: “The fundamental rule is, you get to hire the performer who can best convey the spirit of the part. There is certainly a history of insensitivity. And you have to ask if it’s part of a dangerous pattern. But you can’t throw down the DNA gauntlet, and you’ve got to be able to cast for artistry and in the spirit of the character.”
Anonymous producer: “If you’re going to wait around to find the perfect actress who is a quarter Asian, and not just a quarter Asian but a quarter Hawaiian Asian, you will never cast your movie.”
And if you do nothing, then you risk looking like an uncreative racist producer with a narrow mind. “Try” doesn’t seem like much to ask.
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Image via Sony Pictures