A Hawaiian's Take On Cameron Crowe's Film, "Aloha"

So I finally pulled myself to watch Cameron Crowe's film, Aloha Now when I say "pulled", I really mean that I pulled, fist over fist, like Sylvester Stallone hauling people up the mountain in Cliffhanger "PULLED".

I had seen the trailer to the film and I was already tripping out over Emma Stone's "This forest has a lot of mana" line and had no intention on seeing the full film until I told my comedy sketch partner, Rian, about my idea to write a sketch about the trailer of the film. He had watched it whole thing and insisted that I watch the film fully if I was planning on writing something on it. Initially I was hesitant until he said, "Watch it. It's SO much worst than you'd ever expect." 

So I popped some popcorn, cozied up on my couch, and illegally downloaded the film. There was NO way I'd give my hard earned dollars to that abomination of a movie. At the end of the movie, I just sat there in silence. It was the most ignorant, blatantly condescending thing I've seen in a long time. My mind kept going back to the articles I read up unto that point about how this was Cameron Crowe's "love letter to Hawai'i" and how he did years and years of research with "actual Hawaiians" to get everything correct. Which, don't get me wrong, he did his research and the information was correct, but the way it was presented was so condescending that I couldn't believe how ignorant he must be if he truly meant this to be  a respectful "love letter". 

The Aloha film was about as respectful as having a crazy uncle who used to molest you as a child, suddenly come and visit you on your birthday, only to give you a Vegetales rap album because he remembers that you used to listen to hip hop when he'd try to suck your dick. 

The Aloha film was was about as respectful to Hawai'i as this video is respectful to hip hop. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjXuFDteZ3Y)

NOTHING about Hawai'i was relevant to the main plot of the story. It was just an extremely poor excuse for Cameron Crowe to shoot in Hawai'i. NOTHING about Emma Stone's "Allison Ng" character was Hawaiian or even remotely ethnic other than the fact that in every scene she would actually have to SAY that she's a quarter Hawaiian or horribly pronounce a Hawaiian word to PROVE that she's Hawaiian (wasn't there someone on set to help her with that?!). That's like her playing a mixed black character and then speaking Swahili to prove it. And don't get me started with all the supernatural menehune/night marcher/lono scenes. I really couldn't believe how truly condescending it was. 

But it wasn't the writing or Cameron Crowe's ignorance that upset me the most. What upset me the most was the involvement and adamant backing up of the film by Hawai'i's very own sovereign "leader", Bumpy Kanahele. I had a friend who had a small part later on in the film and I didn't have a problem with her part. She most likely didn't get a full script and being an actress from Hawai'i and having the opportunity to get flown back home for a Cameron Crowe film with that amazing cast, of course she'd take the job. I would have. 

But Bumpy Kanahele was a consultant on the film. He no doubt had a full script. He no doubt saw how condescending that film was to Hawai'i and its people, but he still did it AND backed it up. And knowing how films are made, I'm sure he (and his buddies) got paid a lot of money for his part and for the use of his compound AND he most likely had to sign Non-disclosure agreements stating that he had to publicly defend the film during the marketing of it. So OF COURSE, he's going to say stupid shit like "This film is good for Hawai'i".  Upon speaking with a lot of Hawaiians in the community, many didn't seem surprised on Bumpy Kanahele's apparent sell out. Funny thing, the scene immediately after Bumpy's scene, Bradley Cooper tells Emma Stone "this is how Hawai'i works. It's all about money". I guess so, huh.

In fact, only way I could believe that a person like Bumpy Kanahele truly believes that this movie is "good for Hawai'i" is if I think about how, at his age, it's possible that he may be thinking that we need to get Hawaiian issues in something, ANYTHING, despite how ignorant the overall product is. Which I get, but I don't get, because I'll never stop agree to that thinking and I'll never stop fighting to tell the right stories, the right way, about our people. 

Maybe he lost his way and he really feels that the amount of publicity is worth the ignorant parts of the movie. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that he's running for office right now? Who knows?

In any case, I had to shoot this sketch after watching the film. And as hesitant as I was to put it up, I knew we had to call him out because really, hat kind of Hawaiians would I be if we don't?

Slowly But Surely

So a lot has been going on lately.  My film, The Device, has been accepted to two festivals thus far!  NewFilmmakers LA and NBCUniversal's Short Cuts Festival.  Technically, two and a half because HollyShorts hit me up and said that they liked my film and still wanted to screen it in their monthly program despite me not making it into their big annual program.  But in any case, things have been really busy and exciting!!  Especially with me finally being able to attend these festivals as a filmmaker and not just a spectator. 

The NewFilmmakers LA premiere went well although I do wish I had screened my film on a projector first before giving it to them.  Their projector screened pretty dark and on top of my film already being a pretty low lit film, it was hard to see a lot of the key moments.  I was actually pretty bummed about that and worried that no one would understand what's going on.  Despite it being so dark, it still got a pretty good response.  A number of people even came up to me afterwards and said that my film was their favorite of the block.  That was pretty cool.   

A highlight of the night was when I was onstage with the other filmmakers during the Q&A.   Someone in the audience asked us what kinds of cameras we all shot with and what our budgets were.  Of course, the other filmmakers shot with expensive cameras that cost over $10k.  One filmmaker even said that they "scrounged around and managed to raise only $20k."  ONLY $20k?!  Good goodness... So it felt extra amazing when I told the audience that I shot with a lowly Canon T3i and spent only $40 on pizza.  I could hear them trip out and as I glanced over at the other filmmakers onstage, I could see that they were impressed. 

But the best part of the night by far was the fact that I got to share my very first red carpet premiere with my beautiful mother.  She just so happened to be in town for her husband's mother's birthday so they all were able to come out.  It just felt so good to share that moment with her because it was finally something tangible to show her that all this hustling, grinding, and pounding the pavement is worth it.  It was good to show here that I'm not wasting my time up here, that I'm not fucking around, and that it's slowl but surely paying off.  I can't wait to bring her to longer red carpets for my bigger premieres.  I can't wait to retire her and buy her everything she deserves.  But for now I hope she's proud of me.  Just gotta keep hustling.  Slowly but surely....