I saw The Descendants today and found it was a great movie worthy of all its accolades. However, in the movie George Clooney is an indigenous Hawaiian. Well, actually his character Matt King controls a land trust because of an ancestor who was part of the deposed Hawaiian monarchy. As Matt King says at one point that while his family may be exceedingly white and privileged they have Hawaiian blood. Given all of the historical injustice done to Native Hawaiians including the virtual coup executed by white planters to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani, I wonder how George Clooney as Matt King is going over in Hawaii. To an extent he is a character aware of racial politics, calling himself and his family haoles (Hawaiian for non-Hawaiian, in some contexts an insult), and proving quite aware of the need to keep land for Hawaiians. Yet he is also a rich white guy named “King” who in the movie controls pristine land as a descendant of the indigenous population. Overall, I wonder what the directors and writers are trying to do with this film and its message about land, Hawaii, and the rights of indigenous people.
For a deeper progressive critique of the movie see “Racism in The Descendants” by retired University of Hawaii professor, Michael Haas.