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Cameron Crowe apologizes after angry reaction to ‘Aloha’

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Cameron Crowe, the Oscar-winning Hollywood director whose new film “Aloha” generated howls of protest for its portrayal of Hawaii and ethnic minorities, apologized Tuesday on his blog, The Uncool.

Crowe, who also wrote the screenplay for “Aloha,” heaped praise on actress Emma Stone, whose character, Allison Ng, was the target of many angry commenters who felt she was too haole to play a part-Hawaiian fighter pilot, and over her sometimes mangled Hawaiian words.

“Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng,” Crowe wrote. “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice.”

Since 2007, Crowe has viewed Stone’s character as a proud one-quarter Hawaiian who was frustrated that she did not look Hawaiian, the director wrote. 

“Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets,” he wrote. “The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that.”

Stone worked hard to prepare, Crowe wrote, adding “if any part of her fine characterization has caused consternation and controversy, I am the one to blame.”

His blog post, which included a photograph of director’s chair with “Allison Ng” stenciled on it, has the comments feature disabled.

The director said from the very beginning, his film was misunderstood and many people thought they knew a lot about “but in fact knew very little.”

“Aloha” also starred Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams and included local activist Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, who plays himself and gives a voice to the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. 

In “Aloha,” a celebrated military contractor (Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs — the U.S. space program in Honolulu — and reconnects with a long-ago love (McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Stone) who is assigned to him. 

The title of the film angered some who felt it was a further commercialization of the word aloha. The film initially was called “Deep Tiki,” then referred to as Crowe’s untitled project. Earlier this year, it was officially dubbed “Aloha.”

The film was shot last year on Oahu and remained untiled until earlier this year. It was released in theaters Friday and has not fared well, earning $9.7 million in its first weekend.

Prior to the blog post, Crowe has said little publicly about the controversy that erupted in the week before the film’s release. At a preview screening, he told the audience it was a love letter to Hawaii.

“I am grateful for the dialogue,” Crowe wrote of the controversy. “And from the many voices, loud and small, I have learned something very inspiring. So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation, and I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.”

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