Bradley Cooper’s New Movie ‘Aloha’ Offends Native Hawaiians


Bradley Cooper’s newest movie Aloha offends some Native Hawaiians. The movie set to début Friday has some Native Hawaiians upset with the use of the word “aloha”.  Activist are displeased that the movies does not include anything about the history and culture of the word.

The word “aloha” is very sacred to Native Hawaiian culture, the word is not just used as a greeting or to convey love but it has other meanings including grace, mercy, and compassion. The word comes from two Hawaiian words: alo- which means in front of a person, the part of the body that one shares with a person and takes people in. The other word ha, which means breath. Combining the two words, according to Native Hawaiian Janet Mock, host of MSNBC’s show So POPular, is a sharing of life breath between two people who are facing each other.

The film by Cameron Crowe stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel Adams. The movie opens Friday, but will have a screening in Hawaii for three days before the opening, Cooper’s character relocates to Hawaii for his military job, where he becomes involved in a love triangle with Adams and Stone, and has to choose between the two. The romantic comedy is causing a controversy after a trailer was released that does not show any real links to Hawaiian culture. Others are upset because of disproportionate amounts of whites compared to non-whites.Aloha

According to Ty Kawika Tengan, from the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus the trailer portrays the “typical Hollywood” idea of Hawaii, where it is the same white fantasy that has been portrayed countless times. He went on to say the word “aloha” has been so far removed from its original Hawaiian meaning that people have a romanticized version of it.

The Bradley Cooper film Aloha, that many Native Hawaiians find offensive was filmed in 2013 and at the time had no name. Donna Dawson, State Film Commissioner, said that if she had known this was the name they were going to use she would have cautioned them against it. She of course, could not deny them a permit based on the name alone, as she has no say in creative issues, only in telling filmmakers what they can and can not do while filming on public lands.

She feels that Hawaii has suffered from being stereotyped since 1913. According to her the film industry has misrepresented Hawaiians, causing a misunderstanding of who they are, one that is not truthful or authentic. Past films have used the word “aloha” in their titles. In 1931 there was another film named Aloha, there was Aloha, Bobby and Rose in 1975, and the film Aloha Summer in 1998.

Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian residents were able to work in front of and behind the camera during the filming of the movie, according to executive director of the Hawaii local of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Brenda Ching.

Not all Hawaiians are upset with the name of the movie. Kimo Kahoano a radio and television personality said that if one looks at the meaning of the word “aloha” it can really never be used in a bad way.

Bradley Cooper is no stranger to controversy when it comes to films he is in. Last year’s American Sniper, also offended some people, who thought war hero Chris Kyle should not be portrayed as a hero. The film divided many in Hollywood and across the country.

Sony Pictures at first did not comment on the concerns Native Hawaiians have with the Bradley Cooper film and its name Aloha, instead directing The Associated Press to a website that shows interviews with Native Hawaiian activist, Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele who appears in the movie,  and shots of a hula, and Emma Stone in the movie using the word “mana”, which can mean power in Hawaii. They have since release a statement in which they deny accusations of unfair racial representation in the film. They also feel that the film does respect Hawaiian culture and shows the spirit of its people.

By Jessica Hamel


National Review: Hawaiians Offended That a Movie is Named ‘Aloha’

NY Daily News: ‘Aloha’ Movie Title Sparks Outrage Among Some Hawaiians

The Guardian: Sony Responds to “Whitewashing”Claims Over Cameron Crowe’s Hawaii-set ‘Aloha’

Photo of  Bradley Cooper Courtesy of Daniel Ramirez’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License

Photo of Emma Stone Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License

One Response to "Bradley Cooper’s New Movie ‘Aloha’ Offends Native Hawaiians"

  1. Thomas Watson   June 2, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I do love Emma Stone in this trailer. I wonder how this will turn out given the Sony emails that basically said this movie was not good.


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