This year, on-screen representation is increasing for Asians and it is an exciting thing to witness in 2018.
“Crazy Rich Asians,” is the first major studio film with a contemporary setting to have an all-Asian cast in 25 years. It even featured a fellow Filipina and actual crazy rich Asian, Kris Aquino!
Seeing familiarity and identifying with those on-screen in the movie theatre sent waves of exhilarating joy over me. Their faces, hair, complexion, and even their lactose intolerance—which 70% of Asians suffer from—we share! Overall, I am happy to see this tremendous international win for Asians in the arts community.
The movie is a rom-com about a New Yorker named Rachel Chu, who agrees to spend a summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young in order to attend his best friend’s wedding and to meet his family for the first time. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nicholas Young and his family are Crazy.Rich.Asians. The whole movie is an entertaining ride that will make tears of laughter roll down your cheeks but will also tug at your heart with its sweet, romantic scenes and then make your jaw drop because of everyone’s sophisticated—and clearly expensive—clothing paired with their luxurious houses.
This movie is evidence of the leaps and bounds of progress we are making as Asians in the Western world. I hope that this allows us more access to careers in places like Hollywood and that this encourages more Asians who have a talent in the acting industry to pursue it.
Sure, many may argue that the movie does not represent a lot of Asians as a whole, with the cast made up of mostly light-skinned Asians while the story centers more on Asians with ridiculous wealth thus limiting the exposure to about 1% of the Asian population. However, with that in mind, these are still Asians that were portrayed as complex, three-dimensional human beings rather than the same, repeated stereotypes that we typically see from Hollywood productions. Let’s not criticize or boycott this for we must take the door that has been opened to us now and work harder to open it wider so that Asians have access to more opportunities in the acting industry. We cannot ask one 2-hour long movie to represent all Asians, but we should be happy to see that Asians are not being painted with a monochromatic brush.
It is so refreshing to see Asian men portrayed as the attractive, sought-after bachelors. It was also so touching to watch the lead, Rachel Chu, as she struggled to identify with some of her Asian culture, having grown up in America. These complex characters were far from the usual subservient roles I had watched many Asians play in American television shows and movies. The problem with stereotypes is that it becomes the set expectation others have of you and places you in a box which can be difficult to climb out of,especially for young Asians seeking to form their own identity in the Western world. Pop culture can help demonstrate to Asians and their non-Asian counterparts that Asians are allowed to step outside the confines of the few boxes labelled “nerdy”, “submissive”, and “martial arts master” if they wish to do so.
According to USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, about 5% of the characters in 2017’s 100 top-grossing films were Asians, and only four of those characters were leads.
Let’s view this movie as a key to unlocking the gate that has been closed off to Asians.
Money speaks, and we play a key role as consumers by buying tickets to watch this movie and show our support. By doing so, we communicate to other major studios that an all-Asian cast does deliver a large audience and that investing in Asians actors and actresses is worthwhile. If you are pondering which movie to see next in theatres, I highly recommend that you choose “Crazy Rich Asians.” It is a must-see movie that you can feel good about supporting.