Hawaii Five-O Actor Scott Caan Apologizes For Wrong Thing

So I guess life in the islands can continue now that Hawaii Five-O actor Scott Caan has humbly apologized for dissing the Great State of Hawaii. For those whose televisions burned out or simply have better things to do than follow the late night talk show ramblings of a guy whose dad is a way, way better actor than he, Caan recently appeared on the E! Network’s Chelsea Lately on Jan. 24 and proceeded to not only bite the hand that feeds his employer lucrative state film tax credits, but to spray it with dismissive bullets.

Caan said Hawaii is “too relaxed” and surfing here is a matter of “survival;” he said crystal meth was too available, and–worst of all–the food here “sucks.”

Both traditional news media and social media across the state were quick to denounce the comments as “not-so flattering” and “offensive.” Comment forums lit up with people calling for the show to kill off Caan’s Danno character without haste.

Of course, the inevitable apology arrived just a couple days later, on Sunday, Jan. 27, according to this Hawaii News Now story:

“I am truly sorry for my comments made on Chelsea Lately. Jokes are always a part of late night talk shows, but I’m horrified if I hurt or offended anyone, as that was not my intention. I love Hawaii, I love the people of Hawaii and I apologize.”

Writing the whole thing off as “jokes” that misfired is, in itself, laughable, as anyone who’s viewed the full clip knows. If that bit with show host Chelsea Handler was funny, then this Youtube clip of John Boehner is the funniest thing ever.

I’m still waiting for someone to explain exactly what Caan did wrong. Sure, his opinions, whether tongue-in-cheek or not, were absurdly ignorant (except the part about crystal meth). Freedom of speech anyone?

If anything, Caan, the rest of the Hawaii Five-0 cast and the CBS television network ought to be apologizing for the entire show. Talk about insulting: has anyone who’s watched at least one episode ever really thought about the message that thing is sending about Hawaii? I’m not talking the shallow storylines, dry dialogue or one-dimensional characters–I mean the show’s message.

Well, the late writer David Foster Wallace did. Guy grew up watching the original Jack Lord show (which displays the same themes as the remake) and he viciously disemboweled the show in his novella “Westword the Course of Empire Takes its Way” (which is included in the 1989 book Girl With Curious Hair). Here’s “J.D.” from the story:

“‘Hawaii Five-O’ is not political? We’re talking about the same show? The show that ran from ’65 to ’73? That had helicopter imagery in every episode? Helicopters full of wooden-faced, purposeful white guys in the kinds of business suits capitalism’s all about? White guys flying around in helicopters restoring order to this oriental island that can’t seem to govern itself, that’s overrun with violent and bad and indigenous Orientals? The cop show where all the head guys white and all their lieutenants are good Orientals in suits, and they all cooperate and co-prosper shooting at the bad Orientals out of helicopters? With this constant reference all the time to a ‘Mainland’ that seems close to the island and in peril from the island’s disorder and in need of what’s the word immunization, but which calls Jack Lord’s every shot, and justifies all the shooting of natives out of helicopters?”

Okay, so maybe today’s Hawaii Five-O incarnation doesn’t have so many helicopters, but it does have that classic white guys bringing order to the Asian island theme, and it’s not very nice.

Photo of Scott Caan: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons