When we first began talking about global cinema in this week’s lecture, I immediately thought of my favourite movie from 2018 – Crazy Rich Asians. I appreciated and fell in love with the gripping drama and hilarious comedy throughout the film. But more importantly, the movie really stuck with me because I had never seen a Hollywood movie featuring an entire cast of Asian men and women. If you haven’t watched the movie, I highly recommend it — but below is the official trailer, to give you a better idea of what I will be talking about.
In short, Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. On arrival, she is shocked to discover that Nick not only has a exceptionally wealthy family, but is considered the country’s most eligible bachelor. Rachel must now face elite societies and disapproving family relatives.
Crazy Rich Asians is an original film that was produced by Hollywood and Warner Bros. Pictures, and became a success worldwide. Therefore, this film is considered ‘Cultural Homogenisation’. This essentially relates to the reduction in cultural diversity through the popularisation of cultural symbols — not only physical objects but customs, ideas and values (Barker, 2008). The notion that the culture of rich countries are perceived to be of superior quality is clear through the setting, beautiful estates and overall feel of the film. The dialogue and body language of the characters, as well as the gorgeous luxury outfits show the exclusivity the families and societies hold.
As aforementioned, the film features an entire cast of Asian men and women. The female lead is Constance Wu, an Asian-American actress, played alongside male lead Henry Golding, an English-Malaysian actor. The supporting cast consists of American, English and Malaysian actors and actresses or Asian descent. Director, Jon M. Chu and novelist, Kevin Kwan are both Asian-American men who are highly successful in their careers.
The film itself was made in Malaysia and Singapore — countries located in South East Asia. Because ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was produced by Asian men and women, the film gave off an authentic feel which allowed the audience a deeper look into Asian culture. The stereotypical Asian culture is present throughout the film and includes the themes of strict families, high standards and making one’s parents proud.
As alluded to in the title of the film, while additionally being mentioned before, the Young family is extremely rich. The theme of wealth is present throughout the entire film, which relates to the idea of The Global North and South Divide. This essentially is an imaginary line that divides the wealthy developed ‘rich’ countries and the developing ‘poor’ countries. Although Singapore is located amongst counties in the Global South, it is actually considered to be a part of the Global North. In fact, Singapore has a higher GDP per capita that Australia, sitting at $85,000 AUD compared to $80,000 AUD, respectively.
All in all, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is completely hilarious and refreshing to watch. The acting is wonderful and the setting is spectacular. The film gives the audience a great insight into the life of a rich Asian. With that being said, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is an incredible film that I highly recommend. It’s also now available of Netflix, too!
Baker, Chris. ‘Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice’, SAGE Publications, (3rd ed, 2008), 159.
Chan, T. (2019). ‘Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: 9 Actors in Hollywood on the Books and Films That Inspired Them’. [online]. Variety, viewed 22 Aug 2019, https://variety.com/2019/film/news/asians-in-hollywood-actors-movies-tv-shows-1203223712/
Kiang, P. (2019). ‘Understanding Our Perceptions of Asian Americans’. [online]. Asia Society, viewed 24 Aug 2019, https://asiasociety.org/education/understanding-our-perceptions-asian-americans
Vachova, L. (2018). ‘Behind the Asian Stereotypes’. [online]. ESNblog, viewed 22 Aug 2019, https://esn.org/blog/behind-asian-stereotypes