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Hula and Luaus

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"Hey, what is this place? Palm trees... hula girls... pineapples... hula girls... surfboards... hula girls!... hula girls!... hula girls! Of course, it all adds up! I've somehow landed in Norway!"
Freakazoid, Freakazoid!

Aloha! If Hawaiʻi shows up in a work as a setting, you can bet that it will be reduced to a stereotype of a tropical paradise that's made up of sandy beaches, ocean views, relaxing vibes and little else. The perfect place for a Vacation Episode or Beach Episode where characters can relax without a care in the world. Some other things that round out the stereotype include:

  • Plump, friendly ukulele players and names like "James Humunupukapu'a", or "Israel Kamakawiwo'ole". Asian surnamesnote  are strangely unheard of for a state where Asian Americans make up forty percent of the population.
  • Sexy skinny girls in coconut bras and grass skirts, even though ethnic Pacific Islanders run the full gamut of body sizes, grass skirts never were a part of Hawaiian Hula tradition, and those hula girls most likely wear jeans and tank tops in their off-hours.
  • Men wearing obnoxiously bright Hawaiian shirts. Okay, this one is actually true, even in the workplace, since the tropical weather doesn't take kindly to layered 3-piece suits. However, business and casual Hawaiian shirts are more subdued than the loud tourist versions, and locally made shirts tend to get expensive.
  • Surfing and surfers, everywhere. Everyone knows how to surf and is regularly surfing. Some Truth in Television given that Hawaii is one of the biggest surfing capitals in the world.
  • Volcanoes. After all, the Hawaiian islands are volcanic. You can see lava flows on the Big Island.
  • Tourists. Tons of tourists. In every place, shop, and beach. Especially Hawaiian Shirted Tourists. While true in some places—especially O'ahu the capitol—other parts of the state are relatively tourist-free.
  • A pig roasted on the beach. Outside of kalua pig, the only time you'll see it now are at commercial luaus.
  • Pineapples. (Also true, since the Dole plantation did most of its growing work here and was partially the reason why Hawai'i has a lot of Asian heritage.)note 
  • Local kids hanging out all day in the sun instead of going to school. (This is something of truth in television, especially with college students from out of state attending any of the universities of Hawai'i.)
  • In fact, extend that to everyone (kids, adults, grannies, etc) seemingly not having a job or shown going to work, just hanging out either beachside or poolside. Only exceptions are those in the tourism industry for obvious reasons.
  • Tiki statues everywhere, frequently used as an everyday form of illumination, despite, you know, modern electricity and lighting.

In reality, Hawaii has major cities, urban areas, and suburbs and people dress more or less the same as they do in other warm climate/tropical areas. But media rarely shows off these parts of Hawaii as they aren't "unique" to the island. Thus, media (and people in Real Life) ends up treating Hawaii as a permanent vacation spot rather than a diverse locale.

Frequently combined with Tropical Island Adventure, when the latter decides to specify a place rather than go for generic tropical vibes.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Miss Machiko had an episode in Hawaii, which included every stereotype... and topless beaches, for some reason. (There are no topless beaches in Hawai'i.) Also, hula girls apparently wear grass skirts low enough to display part of their buttocks. Considering the nature of this series, it shouldn't be that surprising.

     Comic Books 
  • One mini-arc in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose had John invite Tarot, Raven Hex, and their mother to go to Hawaii with him. The Hawaiian tropes are justified given that they're in a swanky hotel. By coincidence, Boo Kitty and Licorice Dust also end up in Hawaii at another hotel at the same time, where Boo gets drunk and starts molesting performers at the luau.

     Fan Works 
  • Armada - The REAL Story: After some deliberation, the narration at the beginning decides that the comic is set in Hawaii. None of the backgrounds resemble Hawaii at all, and the only time it comes up is when Optimus looks at some tropical dancers on a monitor in the second panel.
    Earth, or some planet looking the same. I dunno
    I mean, it's not like the artist does the damn backgrounds
    Okay... Hawaii. Yes
    It's Hawaii
  • Despite being set in medieval Europe, the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Virtual Smurfality" has the initial beach setting in the Imaginarium full of virtual Smurfettes wearing floral wreaths and doing dances similar to the hula.
  • In Final Space, Gary and his crew go to a Hawaiian planet for a vacation. They relax and have a good time. Later, Gary, Avocato, Little Cato, Quinn, Ash, Sheryl, and the others wear beach bras, lipsticks, necklaces, and green grass skirts. They hula dance and enter a hula dance contest.

     Films — Live-Action  
  • In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the main character goes to Hawaii on vacation after breaking up with his super hot celebrity girlfriend. The Hawaii pictured features pretty much every stereotype minus the volcanoes, though he is tourist resort staffed almost entirely by white people.
  • Seven (1979): One of the murders occurs at tiki show, complete with hula dancers. Cowboy kills his target at a surfing competition, the Kahuna marks his victims for death with a yellow lei, etc. However, it also includes some less commonly seen locales, like the tropical rain forest and metropolitan Honolulu.

     Live-Action TV  
  • The Brady Bunch has a famous episode where the family visits Hawaii and Greg obtains a cursed Tiki and Vincent Price cameos.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch,: Sabrina and her evil twin compete against each other to see who gets sacrificed to a volcano. Later, Sabrina learns she has a relative who is a Hawaiian volcano goddess.
  • Schitt's Creek: In Season 1, Roland and Jocelyn throw a kitschy Hawaiian bash at their house, which includes Hawaiian shirts, leis, a pig roast, and weed.
  • Deconstructed in the first season of The White Lotus, which is set at an exclusive Hawaiian resort. While the tourists get all the "stereotypes" — the beaches, the boating, the hulas, and fire dancing — but it's all a show put on for them at the expense of the Native Hawaiian population.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Parodied with the Brown Islands setting in GURPS Discworld Also, where the natives think of surfing as a religion, and have a habit of reassuring visitors they stopped sacrificing people to the volcano ages ago, in a vague manner that suggests they can't quite remember if they'd any reason to.

    Video Games 
  • Backyard Basketball has the Whirling Hula Hoops team, which has a pineapple mascot with a Hawaiian shirt twirling a hula hoop around.
  • In The Sims 2, if your Sim dies of old age with a full (platinum) aspiration, the Grim Reaper shows up in a lei, accompanied by two hula girls to the tune "Aloha Oe," before handing the dying Sim a drink and taking his/her suitcase.
  • War of the Monsters features Club Caldera, home of the game's Magma Man, which was designed with Hawaii in mind: A small city, beaches, a lot of hula-wearing advertisements, and a volcano.
  • The Hawaii level of Tony Hawk's Underground features seemingly endless tikis, leis, Hawaiian shirts, pineapple stands, and a luau skateboarding tournament.
  • In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Honolulu is a new locale introduced in the series and one of the unlockable Jobs is the "Geodancer", which is a hula dancer. There's also the Pyrodancer, which as the name implies is a fire dancer-themed class.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer Alone", Marge is wearing the grass skirt and coconut bra ensemble as she reclines on her bed at the resort, checking off her to-do list, the last one being "hula dancing".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Aloha Hawaii, Hollywood Hawaii


Betty Boop's Bamboo Island

Betty Boop performs a hula dance.

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