Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Aloha, White People

I am going to pick on a movie trailer because I feel like it. I am going to pick on a movie trailer because it has something in common with so many other movie trailers. I am going to pick on a movie trailer because, like so many other movie trailers and the movies they represent, it deserves to be picked on.

Hey, “Aloha” trailer,” what’s up with all the white people? Now, I am not stupid. I am well aware of the ratio of white lead actors to nonwhite lead actors in major motion pictures today. I am not somehow deluded into thinking this sort of complete white-out is new or in any way unexpected. And, who knows, this movie might even be good. But, Jesus. That’s a lot of white people. And that’s a fuckton of white people for a movie set in Hawaii. It’s actually a lot of white people for a movie set anywhere. But, especiall for one in Hawaii. I mean, come on.

The population of Hawaii is more than 75 percent not solely white. Some 48 percent of its people are Asian or Pacific Islander. Only 24.7 percent of the state is in fact white. Yet in “Aloha,” 100 percent of the named cast is white. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

Let’s break it down by order of appearance.

Alec Baldwin: White guy.

Bradley Cooper: White guy.

Danny McBride: White guy.

Bill Murray: White guy.

Emma Stone: White gal.

Rachel McAdams: White gal.

John Krasinski: White guy.

But, hey, the good news is there’s a joke about the way a black guy wears a clock. Black culture is funny, yes? So, for those keeping score, of the seven principal lead roles that’s 7 white folk, zero people of color. But wait, look, is that a possibly Polynesian girl teaching a white woman how to do an indigenous Island dance? Diversity! I should probably stop complaining.

Just kidding, I’ll never stop complaining. And while I’m at it, there’s also the issue of this having only two speaking parts for women out of seven. Also those two parts for women appear to be as the love interest for a man. So, you know, there’s also that.

I guess the most irksome thing is how this film is in fact not extraordinary in its whiteness. (And, while we’re on the subject, pretty much all of Cameron Crowe’s films are big white parties aside for maybe a very small handful of roles for people of color – most notably Cuba Gooding Jr.’s football star in “Jerry Maguire.”) The thing is, I like all of these actors. I really do. And I like Cameron Crowe – “Say Anything” is one of my favorite films of all time. And I like a lot of movies and TV shows that have predominantly white casts. But there comes a point where you can’t ignore the more problematic representational elements of an industry you enjoy so much. I love the movies, and always have, but it’s apparently clear that as a person of color mainstream films simply don’t love me – or showing people like me – back at all.


Carmen SanDiego said...

How sad that some people are so used to this that they barely even notice it unless someone points it out

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with The Descendents for this exact reason. It's also a movie set in Hawaii about the descendents of Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani and the whole cast is white. Even the smaller roles. Don't use real historical people in your fictional movie and tell me all of their relatives are white when in fact most of Kaiulani's living relatives are not.

Panty Buns said...

Wow. Just - wow. 50 years ago this might have seemed normal, but it seems weird to me - I'm ashamed to admit I'm an old white guy. It was strange when Hollywood had a white guy (Chuck Conner) play Geronimo. It's strange in Aloha that they didn't even bother to put in a token black person who, like in the spoof contained in the comedy "Not Another Teen Movie", would have been limited to lines like "Damn." and "That is whack". And how hard is it for a film to pass the Bechdel test, having at least two women characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? Crikey. And in Hawaii? That set must have been very closed. I wonder if they had "Whites only" signs on the lot and the set. Aloha does mean both hello and goodbye. Maybe the hello and goodbye will happen together for that movie. Did the white men at least dance in hula skirts with exposed daddaries in some of the movie scenes? I wonder whether the possibility of using native Hawaiian actresses ever even occurred to Cameron Crowe?


Anonymous said...

Keep complaining and better yet don't see the movie

mmmmmtv said...

The three best new TV shows this year is an easy answer:
Fresh off the Boat
Jane the Virgin
White people are boring and they're over, I honestly have no interest in seeing them on TV any more.
Unfortunately they control everything so it's unlikely things will change soon.

I have thought about this recently, is the reason shows with casts like the three above are so much better because they have to be, is it so hard to get on the air if you're diverse that you have no choice but to be excellent and different, unlike say, any of those formulaic crime trash shows full of white people? Is the diversity push pushing people to be better, write funnier, more emotional, deeper material???
I actually think the answer is no. White people just got complacent and settled, "Eh, it's good enough right?!" (I can literally HEAR Matthew Perry saying this, oof, the Odd Couple is terrible!)
We've been starved of creativity and brilliance, racism is just so terrible on every level, it culturally starves everyone, I fucking hate Big Macs, they're TERRIBLE!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I felt like I was in the twilight zone watching this trailer. Thank you for writing something, thank you for caring. Thank you because I was probably going to go to sleep tonight thinking 'really, not one person noticed this?'