Did you know that Emma Stone was half-Asian? We didn’t either. Actually she isn’t. She’s very white. But that didn’t stop Cameron Crowe from casting her as a quarter-native Hawaiian, quarter-Chinese character for his new movie “Hawaii.” We did the math and that does equal half-Asian, though we’re open to interpretations that a native Hawiian is not actually considered Asian, as some have suggested. Hawaiian/Pacific Islander identity is a matter of debate. But the character is non-white, essentially.
The point should be obvious. Are there no half-Asian or full-Asian major actresses who could have played the role?
Sure. But Emma Stone is hot right now. So… Emma Stone it shall be. The problem is, of course, that movies are driven by money, not by social policy. We can assume that if the producers felt there was an actress with a more visible Asian heritage that would have sold as many tickets as Stone, they would have cast her. Of course, that points us to the problem of WHY aren’t there Asian Emma Stone Alternatives, and at least one of the reasons for that is that it’s far, far more difficult for non-lily-white film actors to get any traction in the first place.
From The Muse:
The problem, more, may be visible in the aggregate: the number of people who thought it was fine to make an all-white movie called ~*~ Aloha ~*~ about the only state with an Asian majority population; the fact that—as Fusion pointed out—Asian characters comprise a highly stereotypical 6.6 percent of characters on network TV, despite many of those shows being set in New York City, which is 12 percent Asian, or California, whose percentage bumps up to 15.
But I think the real problem, for me, is that I’m finding this super fucking boring instead of upsetting. The problem for me is I’m that used to it. Asian erasure is so normalized (and much worse, codified in patternsof professional advancement) that I can’t even get my blood up about the idiocy that allowed these castings: Emma Stone as Allison Ng, but also Josh Hartnett as an Inuit sheriff, Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia, Carey Mulligan as the “Latina” love interest in Drive, Scarlett Johannson as the Asian lead of Ghost in the Shell—all the while audiences happily flip their shit about, say, Cinna and Rue in theHunger Games being black.
Perhaps Americans in the aggregate are not very good at these kinds of conversations, but that only further illustrates why it’s important to have them in the first place.