October 03, 2010

Asians in Hawaii Five-0 remake

My comments on the second episode of the new Hawaii Five-0 series:

Pan-Asian Hawaii Five-0: Chin Ho Kelly, Chinese with an Irish surname, has a cousin named Kono Kalakaua, supposedly Native Hawaiian. Kono says she has a cousin in Kyoto, presumably Japanese. No word on whether they have any Vietnamese, Thai, or Filipino cousins.

I'd love to see their family tree!

And Korean American actors play both characters. But they all look the same, so it's okay.

This led to the following discussion on Facebook:Yeah, how do y'all tell us apart? lol ;) I actually don't mind Asian actors playing a character of a different Asian ethnicity, since European American actors play different European ethnicities all the time. But I understand why it bothers some people.That happens all the time in Native productions too. It's not great but not terrible either.

But considering a central theme of Hawaii is diversity, it's kind of lame that they didn't try harder to cast within the proper ethnic groups. When Wes Studi played a Cherokee in Trail of Tears, that was good. When he played Geronimo the Apache, that was not so good. He didn't look right for the role and that was part of the movie's problem.

Many people may not notice, but I notice Hawaii Five-0's mismatched ethnicities. It takes me out of the show a little, which is never what you want.Yeah. But as a friend reminded me, problems like poverty, unemployment, suicide, addiction, and domestic violence take precedence over issues like sports logos and Hollywood stereotypes. However, I do think these issues are all related.We can tackle both. That's what multitasking is for. And yes, they're related.

For more on the subject, see Why People Don't Care About Indians and The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been confused by this as well. And Grace Park is actually Korean - Canadian.

There's such an emphasis on the Hawaiianness of this show, yet no major characters are actually native Hawaiian.