Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead – Read at your own digression.
The movie “Crazy Rich Asians” is a major conversation within my community and social circle. Living in a city of predominantly Filipino/Pilipinx people, my theater was packed with a bunch of people curious of what the movie had to offer, excited to see people who represent Asian American culture on screen, and to support the massive changes that Hollywood is slowly introducing into mainstream media.
Media is meant to be consumed. That is one of the biggest points I want to make right now, because it explains so much of why this post, why my voice, and why the voices of my people, are important. Think of the music you listen to, the plays you watch, the art you like on tumblr, pinterest and instagram. We are constantly consuming media, everyday.
As a consumable, media serves other purposes as well. It can be creative. It can be emotional. It can be powerful. It can spread and become viral. It can help the world become a better place.
I try to ensure that the media I consume is intentional, that the media I consume will serve a greater purpose in my life and that I can hopefully share the experience or the lessons learned with someone. This is what Crazy Rich Asians offered me – this is what I hope it can offer to others as well.
Representation is key in our society today. Whenever I try to google things (an example just being tattoos, piercings or sibling poses), just for stock images, people who do not look like me are always the ones that pop up. Initially, I overlooked it because it wasn’t a big deal to me. But college helped me open up my eye to how every industry, every place I go, is packed with white people. And how the space is always made more “diverse” by adding one black or brown person in the photo, or in their staff book, or in their television show or video. How important is it that Crazy Rich Asians has a full Asian cast, something that hasn’t happened since the Joy Luck Club was released in 1993? Pretty darn important if you ask me.
(You may not be asking me. You may not even care what my own opinion is. But I care. I care about my opinion because I’m sure there are other people out there that share the same thoughts but aren’t speaking up. I’m here for them. I stand in solidarity).
Regardless of the fact that this movie was not about Filipino/Pilipinx people (and despite Kris Aquino being featured and her not looking like all Filipino/Pilipinx people), it still shed light on general ideas abut Asian and Asian American culture that are relevant topics of discussion. To reveal to our communities and the general consumerist society we live in today, that there are massive differences in wealth, respect and culture that come with growing up in America, or in a Westernized country, is huge. I emphasize that once more…
This. Is. Huge.
There were multiple times throughout the movie that I found myself crying, laughing and/or relating to the stories and struggles of the characters in the film. They talk about cultural preservation and passing that down over generations (see my bio for my thoughts on that). They mention how family is what is important, and that pursuing passion is an American concept while those who grew up in their home country learned that hard work and making money is what was needed to yield respect and a living for the family. That this was self-sacrifice that a poor, immigrant, daughter of a single mother couldn’t even comprehend (*spoiler, she certainly could comprehend this. Rachel was too smart for her own good, and she should have garnered more respect for her intelligence on screen… but I still applaud the movie for what it showed in just 2 hours).
After watching this movie, I was reminded of the Asian American experience that Rachel Chu represented in the movie – the Asian American experience that I similarly experienced. Her character was head strong, emotionally adept, and wise. She didn’t allow her experiences of being told she wasn’t “enough” drag her down. She didn’t let those words define her because she knew her own worth and redefined herself. She held onto the narrative and told it the way it should be told. The amount of power in the Mahjong scene is more than enough to prove her wit and compassion for Nick, his family, and her own well being. With my constant reflection of this movie and its purpose in my life, I’ve found that the role it holds is opening so many doors for conversations that need to be held. Stories and uncomfortable feelings that need to be told, unpacked and dealt with. I am so, utterly proud of this film.
Crazy Rich Asians was not a perfect movie though – I honestly felt the beginning was too fleshed out and the ending was rushed and not given enough justice. However, I found that ultimately, the movie went beyond my expectations and really touched my heart. This step into mainstream media has skyrocketed the amount of attention that Asian Americans are getting in today’s world. If you haven’t watched it yet, head over to theatres and watch it now! This romcom is definitely one of my favorites, and I would definitely watch it again. We cannot tell the stories of ALL Asian Americans (Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Cambodian, Malaysian, Korean, etc) but we can highlight the similar struggles we face as a community – and that is strength in one of its mightiest forms.
[Originally published August 22, 2018. This blog post was reposted from my old wix site, also hosted at http://erilm.com]