Representation Matters: Crazy Rich Asians
Based on the bestseller of the same name, by Kevin Kwan, the titular film has been highly anticipated.
While the film’s premise is not new, a beautiful girl discovers that her boyfriend is wildly wealthy- the casting, directing and acting is. Crazy Rich Asiansdeserves publicity, it marks the start of a new era in film, a more inclusive era.
Director Jon Chu conducted a thorough search for his amazing, Asian cast; reaching out to every platform possible to find the best fit for each role. Chu is careful to steer away from type casting; the similarity in the cast’s ethnicity is contrast by the range of characters and talent displayed. The characters are complex but relatable, whether they are middle-class or stinking rich, it is refreshing that not one of them is a martial artist or trained assassin.
Though it is about time, casual white-washing in Hollywood needs to stop. Only three-years-ago did the #OscarsSoWhite start trending, a reaction to the majority of 2015 academy nominees being white. Thus, when Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ was released earlier this year, there was considerable anticipation and hype for a predominately African-American cast.
Yet, the recent release of Crazy Rich Asians in the U.S. has had a significantly less lack-lustre effect. Where is the hype for a predominately Asian-American Hollywood film? For years Asian-Americans have been fighting for visibility in Hollywood outside of the typical type casts roles, in fact Marvel received significant controversy for their casting choice of Tilda Swinton in an originally Asian role for Doctor Strange.
So whilst Chu’s work is momentous and deserves to be celebrated, regardless of your personal review of the movie, there is still progress to be made. The Black Panther / Doctor Strange contrast simply epitomizes the need for marginalised communities to support and elevate each other into the spotlight.
Nonetheless, co-screenwriter Adele Lim should be praised for her efforts to ensure protagonist Rachel’s relationship with her boyfriend Nick’s mother, Eleanor, is complex. In a recent interview with Bustle,Lim explained how Eleanor’s want to protect her son makes her empathetic, regardless of her tiresome attempts to split Nick and Rachel up. Eleanor ‘never comes across as this [moustache] twirling villain’- she is a complicated, maternal figure effortlessly portrayed by Michelle Yeoh.
Too many talented actors and actresses are being overlooked, whether it be because of their race, sexual orientation or gender (see our latest piece on the viral Leading Lady Parts video), it needs to stop. This systematic marginalisation and underrepresentation in cinema has a rippling effect on the self-esteem of young people, who are brought up not seeing girls and boys like them portrayed as protagonists, heroes or love interests.
Kimberley Yam, the Asian Voices Editor at The Huffington Post, has a recent series of tweets, which sum up the impact representation has on young people, see her: ‘you don’t want to be Chinese anymore’ posts @kimmythepooh or click here.
Crazy Rich Asians is released on 14th September in the UK and has already been released in the US; watch the trailer here.