By Ahana Gupta
Filled with designer gowns for million-dollar parties, multiple-story mansions with golden fountains, and glamorous couples with exciting lives, “Crazy Rich Asians” has made almost $150 million in theaters since its release on August 15.
On the surface, it’s your typical rom-com plot: average girl meets secretly rich boy, trouble ensues, but they end up happily together.
“It was clearly a movie that [took] a lot of time to make,” says Ketandu Chiedu ‘19.
That’s enough to make any hopeless romantic — or just someone in the mood for a rom-com– to want to go see it, but this movie means much more.
Since the movie “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993, “Crazy Rich Asians” is the first Hollywood movie to feature an all-Asian main cast. After so many years of whitewashed movies, East Asian Americans can finally look at a screen and see faces that resemble theirs.
Nancy Tran ‘19 said: “Growing up… the only [Disney princess] I could connect to was Mulan… So it was really nice to see… people like me be able to star like this… [in] a huge movie that got so much money.”
No longer do white actors use makeup to change their eye shape. No longer are Western molds forced on Eastern cultures.
“Playing mahjong… making dumplings with the family, these are things I can relate to,” said Nick McGowan ‘19.
With the inclusion of biracial actors like Henry Golding (the male lead), “Crazy Rich Asians” also acknowledges that the Asian identity has no singular story.
“Seeing biracial Asians… was very refreshing because… they tend to be ostracized,” Raven Foster ‘19, a biracial Asian American herself, said.
The movie even incorporates sexism in its discussion of social issues present particularly in the Asian American community.
“I really appreciated that the storyline offered an alternative way to deal with… women [having] to make their men feel better about themselves because… they maybe don’t make as much money… and [don’t do] other things society considers masculine traits,” Kate Wehrenberg ‘19 said.
The movie demolishes traditional gender roles in households through characters like Astrid Teo, a successful fashion icon who raises her son and supports her family financially.
While the film was successful in those respects, it is by no means representative of the entire Asian- American population. The film depicts an almost entirely Chinese population in Singapore when in reality there are many other groups of people who make up the country.
Mendy Kong ‘19 brings up an important point in the representation of all groups that fit under the umbrella term of “Asian”: “All the ‘brown’ Asians were either helpers or guards, and if they included them in that sense, why couldn’t they have incorporated them as wealthy characters as well?”
But, of course, one movie cannot encompass years of Hollywood’s sidelining of Asian/Asian- American actors.
So, we take next steps.
Instead of racializing movie roles, we can cast actors as actors, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Or, if a movie’s focus involves identity, you cast an actor of that identity.
As simple as that.
Infographic by Hayley Owens