Crazy Rich Asians is Not Actually Asian “Some Secrets”: Singapore has the best airline in the world, the best airport in the world and it’s voted the best city in the world to live for expats. It’s also the world’s most expensive city, where you can have crazy rich experiences.
Singapore is one of the most visited destinations for tourists.
The Warner Bros. flick “Crazy Rich Asians,” in theaters nationwide Wednesday, follows Rachel Chu, an Asian-American woman who finds that her boyfriend, Nick Young, hails from one of the richest families in Singapore, and it takes place in the city.
Rachel Chu and Nick Young are like most millennial couples in New York City—at least millennial couples in which one is a brilliant economics teacher and the other is heir to a real estate empire in Singapore.
Well, in this post I’m going to tell you some secret about “Crazy Rich Asians”.
The film was not formally designed for Asian viewers. The book was a massive hit with white women; indeed, it almost reads in the vein of the escapist romantic fantasy genre that has been very popular this side of the millennium (see: “Twilight” and its fan-fiction spinoff “Fifty Shades of Grey”). The original adaptation of the screenplay was written by a white man, Peter Chiarelli who had his own questionable past of ghostwriting “The Proposal” under a female name.
“Crazy Rich Asians,” a rom-com, is not going to win any Oscars (but who knows if they introduce with the new category for the best popular film), it doesn’t push the case of filmmaking in any sort of groundbreaking way.
For the first time, I saw Asians free to live their best lives, to be heartthrobs, jerks and everything in between, with true emotional lives outside of the Eye-of-Sauron-like white gaze.
The characters in “Crazy Rich Asians” reflected real people I’ve encountered in my own life: like Nick Young’s childhood friend; compared my bromance with my best guy friends, and even bemoaned the presence of the overcompensating douchebag in Ronny Chieng, who plays Young’s cousin, a personality type that I’m all too familiar with from my time in the finance industry. It made me feel something, which is more than what I can say for my emotional investment in watching Tom Cruise sprinting for two-and-a-half hours.
The Asian American narrative in Hollywood will always at some level be co-opted by white voices until Asian Americans realize that they can take control of their own narrative and build those networks and the infrastructure to support Asian American creatives.
But “Crazy Rich Asians” is unique because it does have Asians at most of the relevant levers of the production process (source material written by Kevin Kwan, screenplay co-written by Adele Lim, directed by Jon M. Chu, and starring…Asians). That was only made possible by Kwan and Chu’s willingness to turn down a boatload of money to be able to retain creative control.
When projects like CRA exist and become successful, they not only open doors to additional projects like it being greenlit (full disclosure of my self-interest in this project), but they also inspire the next generation of talent who see themselves on screen to join the industry and help us build the Asian American-run studios, production companies, and networks that we need.
They also inspire minorities to tell their own unique stories, before they get lost in the fabric of history. If you care about Asian American diversity in media, this is a way to support it and have a pretty fun time, too.
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