With the movie coming out in theaters this week, I wanted to take some time to reflect on this bit of cinematic history. Is it worth the hype, or was this not the film we were waiting for?
The fact that we feel like we need to over-analyze this single movie is a testament to how underrepresented Asians and Asian Americans are in Hollywood. Crazy Rich Asians shouldn't be and isn't a story about all Asians, so we shouldn't be upset if this one movie doesn't reflect our own personal experiences or values. This is ONE story - and yes, there are very valid criticisms about it - but there are a million more stories with Asian and Asian American leads to tell.
Out of all the reviews and opinion articles I've read, I found this opinion piece from Code Switch to summarize my sentiments.
"So often, when we discuss movies or TV shows for or with Asian-Americans, or any group of people of color, we demand it be everything for everyone. It's an unfair burden. We feel #repsweats, a term comedian Jenny Yang coined a few years back when discussing the launch of Fresh Off The Boat. It's the idea of sweating it out over representation, that feeling of: I don't even need to like this thing, but I need it to win, and the conviction that the thing in question has to be the best, so it can pave the way for more, since it's the only one of its kind.
I think there are valid critiques out there of Crazy Rich Asians: how Singapore is portrayed without its blemishes, how the country's Indian and Malay populations are all but nonexistent in the movie, how the film could say more about the overseas Chinese and their dominance in Asia. What all of this gets at, of course, is our need to have our stories told. But to demand that this movie meet the disparate needs of every person who sees it would be to force this movie to carry the sky on its shoulders, an overextended Atlas."