I was over the moon that Samoa was going to be featured in a major Hollywood movie. I was so excited to watch Hobbs and Shaw. I was even tempted to take my son out of school for the day so we could attend the first screening.
Hobbs and Shaw continued to bring the excitement and the speed that is true to the Fast and Furious Empire. There were action sequences that kept you on the edge of your chair and emotional scenes that made you want to go home and hug your mum.
What I was more excited about when hearing about this movie was the fact that my island home, Samoa, would be featured along with our culture and people. Anyone who knows me knows that I support all things, Pacific. I like to concentrate on the positives and try to decrease the negativity that others have towards our Pacific people.
When I watched Hobbs and Shaw I felt a little disappointed. Ask my son I went on about these points the whole ride home, it really upset me. I wanted to go home and write a blog all about my disappointment but decided I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning.
The next day I woke and the disappointment still sat in my heavy heart. Our people face negativities from people all over the world, why would I want to add to them? When we push that our work is sharing authenticity, a place and culture you need to actually do that. I believe that this is one of many Samoan projects and learning from other oversights can only lead to things becoming better in the future. This is why I write this blog. Here are 3 things I wish I saw on Hobbs and Shaw:
1. Images of Samoa
There is a scene where the movie takes you to Samoa. The name Samoa comes up on the screen and then there is a pan of Kualoa ranch…in Hawaii. I completely understand that the budget may have required the movie to be filmed in Hawaii. It makes sense. But how difficult would it have been to get a videographer in Samoa to film a drone sequence of Lalomanu, Apia or even Vatia in American Samoa? With the technology available to us today there would not have been a need to travel to Samoa to get footage of Samoa, so why wouldn’t they do this?
2. Samoan Music
In the same scene, music is played as Samoa appears on the screen. It is a beautiful song by the wonderful Pacific group, Te Vaka. However, the song is completely in the Tokelauan language. I can think of so many Samoan artists who sing in Samoan that could have been used in this instance (Jerome Grey, Punialavaa, Evaeva Band, Five Stars, Jamoa Jam just to name a few). Even playing the guitar sequence that is played at the beginning of many Samoan songs with no Samoan language would have been more Samoan than using another Pacific language.
3. Samoan accents
The Samoan accent is quite distinct. To hear the Samoan mother in Hobbs and Shaw speak Pidgin English frustrated me. Yes, many Samoans live in Hawaii and speak pidgin, but not in Samoa. How we speak is a part of our identity. By using Pidgin English we are taking away the Hawaiian identity and history behind the pidgin language and attaching it to Samoa. Now when palagi hear pidgin in Hawaii they are going to think of Samoa, not Hawaii.
I did see there was a single Samoan advisor for this movie and I applaud that, but perhaps consider using a team of people to offer a wider range of perspectives. Especially with screenings before the actual release.
Hobbs and Shaw is a stepping stone for our people and I appreciate this so much. I still encourage EVERYONE to go out and watch the movie; it is fun and energetic and will make you feel...happiness.
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