CINEMA: Crazy (Not So Rich) Asians

Man, diversity is trending like a motherfucker, and although it’s something many of us MTV kids have been waiting for, since time; making sure it isn’t a passing trend is the new mission for all involved in this movement. It’s hard not to question why the inclusion of those who tick the ‘other’ box is suddenly being embraced by mainstream outlets. By now people of colour are already tired of standing up when they say, sitting down when ‘they’ say and dropping everything, when THEY say.

In a time when I thought my well of ideas would burst open and I’d have a million articles to write and express my inner most deepest feelings about being a third culture kid, I froze up. Instead, instincts made me observe.

Platforms that were being ‘given’ and ‘provided’ by funding streams also had to tick certain boxes – doninant ones being many followers (which I didn’t and don’t have). I found myself in a silent competition – and being put against my fellow women of coloured creatives felt against my ethics so at the time, even when I really tried to, I couldn’t find my voice.

Over the past few years I’ve watched the #poc #woc #blacklivesmatter #staywoke #metoo narratives unfold online and felt even more confused than before, but I put it down to writers block and kept living.

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When director Jon M. Chu’s film Crazy Rich Asians became the highest grossing romantic comedy in a decade – reaching $165.7 million in its first weekend, the cast felt like a bunch of fresh faces to me in New Zealand, but these Asian actors are very seasoned people who have been going hard in their field for a long time.

With Michelle Yeoh, Akwafina, Ken Jeong and Nico Santos, the movie overflows with decadence, luxury and fun, set amidst the strict, non-tolerant to anything other than just do what you know you’re supposed to be doing (become a lawyer, doctor…Prime Minister would be good) world that goes hand-in-hand with cultures who’ve kept their traditions, despite westernised influences and dilution.

Chu’s screenplay takes you to ‘exotic’ Malaysia and Singapore, and if you’re from those lands, the mere sight of the pasarmalam (night market) or the use of the word ‘Alamak’ (Oh My God) on a cell phone projects you into a ridiculously deep nostalgia you can’t help but zone into.

I’ve often joked to my boyfriend that he did not get an Asian girl who listened and did what she was ‘supposed’ to, therefore there is no large inheritance waiting for me. Sorry.

And, although that is a wry joke that may offend some people, the beauty of this movie is that it takes those stereotypes and paints them in a boomingly joyful way that leaves your heart nostalgic for the choices I could have made in order to live that narrative.

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Check out this NY Times Screen Times panel discussion below:

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