A spokesperson for Sony defended Cameron Crowe’s Aloha on Tuesday following charges that the film depicted a white-washed version of the Hawaiian islands.
“While some have been quick to judge a movie they haven’t seen and a script they haven’t read, the film Aloha respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people,” the statement read. “Filmmaker Cameron Crowe spent years researching this project and many months on location in Hawaii, cultivating relationships with leading local voices. He earned the trust of many Hawaiian community leaders, including Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele, who plays a key role in the film.”
Last week, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans released a statement to the New York Post slamming Aloha for its representation of Hawaiian residents.
“Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent,” Guy Aoki, a former resident of Hawaii and head of Media Action Network for Asian Americans, said in a statement. Aloha stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray, Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin.
The Media Action Network for Asian Americans wasn’t the only group to take issue with Aloha. As the Associated Press reported, some native Hawaiians also have problems with the film’s title.
“If you have a romantic comedy about the military in Hawaii … but a title that says Aloha, I can only guess that they’ll bastardize the word,” Walter Ritte, a native Hawaiian activist, said to the AP. “They’re taking our sacred word … and they’re going to make a lot of money off of it.”
In the film, Cooper plays a military contractor assigned to Hawaii to help with a new project. Stone plays an Air Force pilot who acts as his temporary watchdog.
Speaking before a press screening of Aloha on Tuesday, Crowe called the film “a love letter.” The director has not specifically commented on the critiques of Aloha through social media, but did post an Aloha featurette called “The Spirit of Hawaii,” which includes an interview with Kanahele. Watch that below. Aloha is out on Friday.