Asian Persuasion: The new era of minority representation
By CHRISTINA QUACH
This isn’t just a movie; this is a movement.
Crazy Rich Asians premiered on Aug. 15, topping the box office and earning a whopping $34.5 million on opening weekend.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s best selling novel, the film follows the life of Rachel Chu, an economics professor, who meets Nick Young. After falling in love, the two decide to attend a friend’s wedding in Singapore. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick is practically the “Prince Harry of Asia.”
The film, Crazy Rich Asians, signifies a beginning of a new era for both Asian representation and for romantic comedies as well.
One of the more glaring aspects of the film is the full Asian-led casting. From lead roles to seemingly “insignificant” characters like street vendors, Crazy Rich Asians successfully immerses the audience in Singapore’s aura and stereotypes that Asians generally face.
When people hear the phrase, “underrepresented minority,” the first thing that pops in mind is not Asians, and possibly the second thing that pops into their head is also not Asian. Finally, a film is made with an Asian in the lead role—the cherry on top is all the other Asians who have significant roles as well. It’s not just that token Asian character just so the movie or show can claim inclusivity. It’s not just another type-casted, smart Asian with straight A’s. It’s finally a true representation of what being Asian means, and I think it is safe to say that it has been long overdue.
Additionally, not only is the film aware of the tropes that it uses, the director puts a unique spin on them so the film does not fall victim to being another typical romantic comedy. They manage to carefully weave humor and drama to create a one-of-a-kind film—the comedy in the movie is neither overbearing nor overdone and the romance is a slow burning one, which creates a lasting impression within the audience.
For example, Crazy Rich Asians takes the cliche “poor girl meets rich boy” and morphs it into a movie about a girl who struggles facing expectations that others place on her: she is not rich, she is not beautiful, her family is not great and so on. What started out as a formulaic and predictable film quickly became an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Speaking of an emotional rollercoaster ride, the soundtrack of the film also enhanced the mood of the film. A heartwarming cover of the classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” here, a borderlining blues tunes there; no matter the track, it helps the audience engross themselves in the movie.
In fact, the scene that moved almost everyone, if not all, to tears is a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” in Chinese. The director used that specific song, because “yellow” contains a negative connotation towards the Asian community. Paired with a scene that is already sad on its own, let’s just say that the film should have had a warning label to bring a whole box of tissues—scratch that, two boxes of tissues.
All in all, Crazy Rich Asians broke everyone’s expectations of what the film was truly about: another typical romance movie that only has an Asian cast. No, it’s much more than that. Think more of finally having representasian for an underrepresented minority, think more of the pressure that all races face when it comes to family or money, think more of a long time coming.