On Tuesday I wrote a piece about how upset I was that Emma Stone had been cast in the movie “Aloha” as Alison Ng, a woman of Asian and Hawaiian descent.
To me, it seemed odd that Emma Stone, a white woman of zero Asian background, was playing a role that would have been better suited for an actress who was Asian-American.
RELATED: Why the hell is Emma Stone playing an Asian-American in ‘Aloha?’
In my column I wrote:
“Emma Stone’s casting in Aloha is just another very disappointing instance of Hollywood casting white actors and actresses in Asian roles. Hollywood has this sick dual preoccupation with pandering to Asian markets by including Asian characters in their films (Dr. Helen Cho in Avenger’s “Age of Ultron”), and simultaneously filling Asian roles with Caucasian actors.”
What followed in the days after my column was published was an outpuring of of responses from readers who were eager to join the discussion. Here are three of those response:
I do not think Emma Stone looks Asian, but has it occurred to you she is an actress acting?
The recent live TV version of “The Sound of Music” had a black Reverend Mother and it was 1938 Austria.
But it was acting. Everything has to be about race.
And you sir do not look Asian either. You look Middle Eastern.
-Walter Nance, via e-mail
This is an old story, unfortunately. Now you know how some of us feel.
Why has Jennifer Lopez starred in roles casting her as an Italian-American? This has occurred several times. She does not look Italian to me.
Was Sophia Loren ever offered roles as an Englishwoman? I don’t think so. She was always “typecast” as Italian which she is very proud to be.
I agree with you wholeheartedly.
But don’t get me started.
How many non-Italians are experts on Italian food?
I taught Chinese cooking but I am not remotely Chinese. I had been chosen by the official representative of the Taiwanese government to do so some years ago.
I guess because it’s the USA, and these movie stars have agents and publicists anything goes.
Just some random thoughts but this weird representation by other ethnics has always bugged me.
– Germaine Greco, via e-mail
Quick point – Wouldn’t the director, producer, casting director, et al. be just as much to blame, if not more so, than Emma Stone?
Now that that’s out of the way, here is my counterargument with examples. First of all, I agree that Emma Stone does not look Asian, according to my perception of what an Asian would look like. But the character she plays is also, as you stated, half-Swedish and quarter-Hawaiian. I suppose you feel she accurately represents the appearance of a common person with those backgrounds.
Why should a person be required to be a certain anything in order to act on screen or television? A hallmark of being entertained by these films or shows is the willing suspension of disbelief. According to your logic, only athletes should be cast in sports films. A real blind person (and musician) should have been used to play Ray Charles instead of Jamie Foxx.
Catharine Zeta-Jones (Welsh, English, Irish) played a Hispanic in “The Mask Of Zorro” and its sequel.
Andy Garcia (full-blooded Cuban) played an Italian in the “Godfather Part III.”
Peter Pan has been portrayed by a female in more than a few productions. I saw Chazz Palminteri perform “A Bronx Tale” as a one-man show. One of the characters is a black high school girl. Mr. Palminteri is not a black high school girl, yet he pulled it off.
And then there’s Robert Downey, Jr. in “Tropic Thunder,” but that was awful for too many reasons to go into right now.
If casting Emma Stone as an Asian took you – and others – out of the movie, the only argument you can make is that it was a bad casting decision. (For the record, I think hiring Emma Stone in anything is always a bad casting decision.) But casting directors should be able to hire any actor they want for any role, regardless of their ethnic background.
Finally, if someone thought enough of Jason Statham to cast him for the lead in a remake of “Malcolm X,” I’m ready to give it a go. It’s only a movie.
-Joe Anttell, Via Email
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.