In 2018 with much fanfare an all Asian cast movie was released called Crazy Rich Asians. The movie is based on the first book in a trilogy written by Kevin Kwan. The movie, with an estimated budget of $30 million, did quite well with a worldwide gross of almost $240 million. However the movie was met with quite some controversy and critic.
A couple points of this controversy and critic:
- They did not use (East) Asian actors;
- Asia is more than just Singapore;
- It is not a romantic comedy;
- Monumental “Yellowwashing”;
- Another movie about gold digging superficial people.
I’m sure there are many more points, but these seem to be repeated quite often online. So what does this say about the movie itself? For me it was an enjoyable romantic comedy – yes the main story is about a romantic relationship and there are quite a few comedic scenes/lines – and perfectly fine to just watch on a streaming service. The story, though not on all fronts quite original, hits close to home for me. No, I’m not Chinese, but am from (Indian) Asian descent and no I’m also not filthy rich, but many of the stories and themes being portrayed throughout the movie were very relatable.
To give some examples about what I mean:
- Class difference, whether it is religion, country you are born in or if you come from money, were all things I experienced growing up and when I met my significant other.
- Feeling worthless even though you are given all the money and attention you can possibly get.
- Not fitting in with family, because of a different lifestyle, education or not speaking the language (properly).
I could go on, but this post should be about my thoughts on the movie and not a therapeutic session!
When reading up on IMDb about the movie two reviews stood out:
First my disclaimer. I used to date one of the girls in this film. Interestingly one of the issues with us was what you see in this film which is all the need for money and glam and fashion this and latest item that. With that said, and the lady shall remain nameless, I did not find this film so good because i have almost lived it and it doesn’t have an aura for me. But there are funny moments and it may be exotic for some. People in the threater seemed to enjoy it. I say give it a shot or wait for the video, but watch it anyway. Oh and hi ‘Angel’
I’m confused by the criticism of this movie by other users – this wasn’t made for people who want to be rich & glamorous, it literally showed how shallow & void the overly-rich & indulgent were. You were supposed to feel disgusted by them at many points in the film. But it was less about the flashy cars & parties, & more about the relationship between a girl & her boyfriend’s family, as well as the identity crises that arise for an immigrant in America.
These reviews solidify the last point (from the list above) that the overly-rich are shallow and superficial. Something the creators of this movie did a great job in at portraying. Could they have cast different actors, sure. Could a more diverse view of the Asian population be shown, I’m not sure, since this is based on story from a book. Does the book have this diversity? If not, then please do carry on.
And finally the main point to think about was the whole “Yellowwashing” argument, which I get. However I wonder, would the movie do better if they indeed went full “Asian Asian” instead of Asian-American/British? When I watched this movie I recognized quite a few of the actors due to other American movies or television series (like The Daily Show, Community or Ocean’s 8) and I’m quite sure this helped drawing in audiences and selling more tickets. Looking back, reading those online comments I believe that the creators of this movie had to do a delicate balancing act, making sure that it would appeal to as many people as possible without deviating from the source material too much. All in all this movie is just a step to get a more diverse representation on the silver screen, who knows to what it may lead in the future.