Emma Stone Talks Whitewashing, Playing the Love Interest to Older Men: “My Eyes Have Been Opened”

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In a recent interview with an Australian news outlet, Emma Stone addressed the controversy surrounding her character in Cameron Crowe’s critically panned Aloha.

Stone, who played an Asian-American woman in the movie, said that she became “the butt of many jokes” following the film’s release, but that Aloha taught her about the importance and history of representation in Hollywood: “I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.”

Stone did go on to reiterate (as Crowe himself did in a blog post earlier this summer), that “the character was not supposed to look like her background which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese.”

The actress also answered questions about Hollywood’s tendency to cast her as the love interest alongside much older male actors (the 26-year old is paired with 40-year-old Joaquin Phoenix’s character in Woody Allen’s upcoming Irrational Man, and starred with 40-year-old Bradley Cooper, 54-year-old Colin Firth, and 45-year-old Edward Norton in recent films):

It’s rampant in Hollywood and it’s definitely been that way for a long time, both culturally and in movies. But in Irrational Man, the film is contingent upon the age difference; the movie is about that disparity. And when I did Magic in the Moonlight Colin Firth and I talked about the gap which was huge, absolutely, because he was born the same year as my dad.

There’s a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealised way. There are some flaws in the system. My eyes have been opened in many ways this year.

Criticism surrounding Hollywood’s gendered ageism has intensified in the past few months after Maggie Gyllenhaal was told that “37 is too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man, but I think it’s important to note that the brunt of responsibility for this sexism doesn’t necessarily lie with actresses like Stone. Girl’s gotta eat, and work, and although I don’t totally absolve her involvement in this trend, I also empathize with her making the best of her career during the fleeting days before Hollywood realizes that she, too, is composed of perishable cells.

In other words, it makes me a little uncomfortable to see Emma Stone questioned so often about the age disparities between her and her co-stars when Woody Allen and other male creators have been comfortably getting away with this shit for so long.

David O. Russell continuously depicts Jennifer Lawrence as a much older woman and is praised for it, but most women don’t look like they’re in their mid-twenties when they’re 39 (Silver Linings Playbook) or in their mid-thirties (Joy). Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is a talented actress, but so are plenty of actual middle-aged women, and it’s time male directors like Russell, Crowe, and Allen get more of the heat they deserve for giving women an expiration date.

Elaine Ng though… hoo boy. That might be partially on you, girl.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

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