‘Crazy Rich Asians’ has opened up the door for Asian American representation in Hollywood

Jankhna Sura, Features Editor

“Crazy Rich Asians”, a glitz romantic comedy, hit theaters nationwide Aug. 15, 2018. It has received countless laud from critics and won the hearts of Americans across the nation for its representation of Asian Americans. The film is based off of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel and has crushed the box office, making over $76 million dollars so far.

The movie is centered around an Asian American professor named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore for a wedding to meet the family of her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding). While Rachel had been dating Nick for a while, she was not aware of the family’s immense wealth and has to face the wrath of his disapproving mother.

The film is not only a well made and original romantic comedy, but it features an all Asian cast, which has not has not happened since the 1993 film, “The Joy Luck Club”. The actors are from all across the world (i.e. Australia, Malaysia and Singapore) and the film was praised for promoting diversity in Hollywood, a place where Asians are rarely the lead roles. “Crazy Rich Asians” is a large step forward for Asian American representation and is reforming the typical image of what a protagonist in Hollywood must be.  

In classic American media, Asians are often portrayed and reputed as romantically inadequate, devoted to math and submissive to those cooler or better looking than them. Because of this, it is hard for Asian representation in Hollywood to be taken seriously and why “Crazy Rich Asians”, which characterizes Asians as all different types of people, could change the media landscape. With the release of “Crazy Rich Asians”, the meek Asian stereotype is beginning to be disregarded and has ignited the much needed discussion of what this means for diversity in Hollywood.

Additionally, it is no secret that after the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, which focused on the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood and Oscar nominations, that “Crazy Rich Asians” is making news all across the nation. The recent hit, “Black Panther”, similarly brought perspective to Hollywood in its portrayal of a predominantly African American cast.

Despite receiving positive responses and praise from viewers of the film, “Crazy Rich Asians” has received criticism. The generated arguments were that the characters were not representative of Singapore’s population including Indian and Malay populations, the movie showed Singapore without its flaws, the portrayals of South Asians were stereotypical and the characters were only focused on the East Asian descent.

These critiques are valid, yet this is only one story. “Crazy Rich Asians” does not accurately represent every Asian American culture and it does not have to. To demand that this movie needs to satisfy every viewer is absurd and frankly impossible. This is one story that is representative of one group of Asians. In Hollywood, “Crazy Rich Asians” has set forth more Asian representation than ever before and is therefore a step in the right direction.

American media needs more representation not only for Asian Americans but for other underrepresented races in the U.S. It is the responsibility of the industry to provide diversity and show America, which is not limited to white protagonists.

American society is highly influenced by the media that is received. If a type of person is not displayed in media, their feelings of self importance decreases and the awareness of their culture is diminished. It is also reassuring for one to see familiar phrases, people and cultural aspects of his or her self depicted in the media and to be able to relate to such characters.

There is still a long way to go but hopefully in the next decades, there will be several more films that depict the Asian American experience and various people will be able to find bits and pieces of themselves in these characters. Racial representation is important, and it is about time America sees some.

“This movie has changed me more than anything, any movie I’ve done for sure,” said Jon M. Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians” to The Grapevine. “Feeling that confidence, to love my unique background and love America and love the people that are here that will see this and understand our journey together. To me it’s a story that is sort of trying to be crushed right now, but is ultimately what America is all about. And I think that is an important thing to have in this world.”