Well it’s about time. Crazy Rich Asians, which was released Aug. 15, features the first full Asian cast in a contemporary setting in nearly 25 years. Shattering records with only a $30 million budget while making $150 million in the box office, Crazy Rich Asians held the top spot for an astonishing three weeks. As an Asian, the film’s success was an accomplishment for the community? Absolutely.
The movie stars a young woman named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who is an NYU professor of game mechanics. She dates a mysterious man named Nick Young (Henry Golding) whom she knows nothing about. When a family wedding causes Chu to visit Young’s family it becomes clear Young’s family is much richer than they seemed. While the plot line is filled to the brim with tropes and stereotypes and impossibly extravagant topics, viewers can’t help but sit down and admire the impact to the community this movie has. To put it into numbers, a survey concluded that 38 percent of the film’s viewers were of Asian decent. It was never about the feel good ending, it was seeing us have a proper shot in the entertainment industry.
Don’t get me wrong, Crazy Rich Asians is no Black Panther. There was no widespread media coverage nor was it treated as a revolutionary step in racial equality within filmmaking. But for Asians in America, that’s kind of what it has become. While Asians have not experienced anything close to the consequences of slavery or Jim Crow has had for hundreds of years, they still have been viewed as racially inferior. Crazy Rich Asians can’t be compared to Black Panther, but it’s the same idea. The movie was a victory to all us Asians as Black Panther was.
The Asian community of actors is an extremely under appreciated community within Hollywood. Movies produced in Hollywood seldom hire Asian actors even when it makes sense. Last year’s Ghost in the Shell, a live action adaptation of a popular anime film, was an example. It starred, not an upcoming Asian actor or an exciting new face even remotely from a minority, but Scarlett Johansson, a white actress. The African-American community has long suffered the same fate. It’s just how things have been and how things unfortunately continue to be. Crazy Rich Asians was a breath of fresh air and a laugh to the face of producers in a very competitive field.
Crazy Rich Asians if casted as any other romantic comedy movie would be just another summer flop, something you drag your boyfriend into and forget about two weeks later. What saved the movie was a decision to pursue the unknown and try something new. To take a jump into the deep end of the pool and in the end, Crazy Rich Asians holds its own. From beginning to end, I just couldn’t help but feel proud to call a film our own, especially with plans for a sequel in the works.