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The words Cameron Crowe and controversy normally would go together as well as peanut butter and fish paste. Yet in the past couple of days we've seen not one, but two instances where the filmmaker's latest foray into film, Aloha, has come come under fire. Allegations of white washing and cultural misappropriation have mired the otherwise innocuous looking film, and Sony – the studio backing the picture – has finally come out to address these heavy charges.
Entertainment Weekly broke the news only a short while ago that the studio had made a statement that simultaneously addressed both fronts of Aloha's PR war with those who protest its existence. The statement reads as follows:
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. 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.
While this not only sounds like the typical kind of response a studio rep would issue against claims of Aloha's lack of diversity and respect for Hawaiian culture, it does back up its own claims with reason. Aloha hasn't been seen by the public at large yet, and all that anyone's had to go on is the marketing materials to the film. Focusing solely on the information that's been widely available, one could definitely say that there's a lack of non-Caucasian influence felt in what looks like another Cameron Crowe film.
That's not to say that Aloha lacks quality, but if there's anything Cameron Crowe knows how to write a movie about, it's an attractive dude – who just happens to be white most of, it not all of, the time – finding his mojo thanks to some free spirited woman. However, thanks to a new featurette also released by Sony, new footage has been spotted that starts to paint a better picture for Aloha's diversity woes.
For the most part, there's a lot of the usual behind the scenes chatter and B-Roll. But between the sound bites from cast members and Cameron Crowe's typically insightful remarks about his work, there's more attention paid to the local environment than in any other spot for the film. We even get to see some of the footage that showcases Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele's role in the film. It's not as deep of a dive as some who are railing against the film might want, but the new featurette does hint towards Aloha being a little kinder to its chosen setting's people than previously implied.
Is Aloha shunning the Hawaiian locals? We won't know for sure, but the footage on display in the new behind the scenes clip above looks a lot better than the standard trailer did in that respect. While we can note that using a native actress to play against Bradley Cooper would have been a good step towards making the film just a bit more diverse, we'll just sit back and wait to see how Aloha fares on both the diversity and the critical fronts. We won't have to wait too long, as Aloha opens this Friday in theaters everywhere.