‘Crazy Rich Asians’ cast defies white-washed Hollywood

September 12, 2018 — by Jayne Zhou

As an Asian-American who is used to watching movies produced by mostly older white men, I found watching “Crazy Rich Asians” to be both empowering and inspiring.

Based on a best-selling novel by Asian-American author Kevin Kwan, “Crazy Rich Asians” shares the story of a Chinese-American university professor named Rachel Chu who accompanies her boyfriend Nick Young to a wedding in his native Singapore.

Though the storyline follows that of a traditional rom-com, “Crazy Rich Asians” is not just any average rom-com. The movie adds unique elements of culture and cultural defiance to make the film feel fresh.

For the first time in forever, I saw people on the screen who ware Asian; that was mind-boggling to me, but it shouldn't have been. Diverse representation on screen is important to give people pride in their ethnicity.

In addition, my Asian parents usually discourage me from watching rom-coms, since they’re convinced it’s a waste of time to watch a bunch of 20-year-olds fall in love.

However, my parents were extremely moved by the movie and the accurate representation of Asian tradition that they barely even noticed the romance of it all.

The only thing that bothered us was the constant change from Mandarin to Cantonese within the family. For some reason, the grandmother spoke Mandarin, but the rest of the family only spoke Cantonese and Rachel only spoke Mandarin. One second I could understand what they were saying, but soon the characters would start speaking in Cantonese. Additionally, all of the music was in Mandarin. All in all, the use of language in the film could have been more cohesive.

But all is forgotten after watching the rest of the beautiful movie, created by director Jon Chu. Chu is a Bay Area local, born and raised in Palo Alto; his father owns Chef Chu’s, a restaurant in Los Altos, and his niece attends Redwood Middle School. He takes watchers on an adventure through the life and traditions of Asia’s upper upper class. Instead of basing the film on Asian stereotypes, Chu shows a side of Asian culture rarely depicted in films.

The importance of family, another huge part of Asian culture, is a central theme in the movie. There are also several more subtle allusions such as dumpling-making and mahjong, a  game of skill, strategy and calculation.

This accurate cultural representation is not only inspiring; it’s also proving to be popular. After its release on Aug. 15, the movie has grossed $149.2 million worldwide as of Sept. 7.

According to Vox, “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is a groundbreaker for lots of reasons, but having a woman at its center who grows and becomes stronger without compromising her own moral center in the midst of unimaginable glamour is one of them.”

“Crazy Rich Asians” is the final push the movie industry needs toward more accurate representation of Asians in films; let’s hope it is only one of many more great culturally rich films to come.

 

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