Crazy Rich Asians, if you haven’t heard, is the ENORMOUS rom com of the moment. It features the first Asian-majority cast in a Hollywood blockbuster since The Joy Luck Club (1993), is being hailed by critics, and seeing stunning success at the box office. The film raked in $35 million opening week. It has shown impressive staying power since, becoming one of the most successful rom coms in years, and proving to white-dominated Hollywood yet again that diversity sells, but also that said diversity should include Asians.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling trilogy by the same name, Crazy Rich Asians is the Cinderella story of Asian American professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who flies to Singapore with her boyfriend for a wedding and discovers that her longtime beau, Nick Young (Henry Golding), is actually from an uber-rich Chinese Singaporean family. However Rachel is not easily accepted by Nick’s aristocratic family and friends, particularly by Nick’s protective mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), and the happy young couple find their love put to a very difficult test.
Despite the movie making cinema history, there has been criticism. Understandably so. Crazy Rich Asians is unquestioningly opening doors, but there are concerns about which doors. Naomi Ishisaka writes in The Seattle Times that the movie is “a love letter to the excessives of capitalism.” Brown people appear only as servants to light-skinned Chinese elite which, notes Sangeetha Thanapal, perpetuates “the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore.” Meanwhile the film is meant to appeal to Asian Americans broadly yet 60 percent of Asian Americans are South and Southeast Asian.
I would like to add a very real concern to the list: How Mixed Race Asians are included, marginalized, and/or excluded in conversations about Asian America…