The Portrayal of Asian Culture in Crazy Rich Asians

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In 'Crazy Rich Asians,' Rachel Chu faces many adventures when she decides to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to a wedding in Singapore. She experiences a culture shock of her own upon discovering that Nick's family is extremely wealthy. Due to his wealth, Nick country's most eligible bachelors. Rachel must learn to navigate the world of the elite Asian society. She must deal with socialites jealous of her relationship and Nick's mother who disapproves of her. According to Said there is a lot of moral overlap regarding personal values in the West and East. 'Visualizing Orientalness: Chinese Immigration and Race in U.S. Motion Pictures 1910s to 1930' discusses the constructed character of race. The orientalist discourse is grounded in the notion that the Orient cannot represent itself, but rather relies on the West to represent it. Orientalism is a western style of having authority and power over the Orient. This relates directly to the film 'Crazy Rich Asians.'

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The social structures seen in “Crazy Rich Asians” visibly display the immense historical dominance of the West. It is underestimated how Western culture has been dominant in the East. The presence of these Western institutions are almost taken for granted. In the film. Asians can show that they “made it” and are successful by meeting the standards of White culture. Adopting Western high culture and couture signifies the value placed on Western culture. It gives in to the idea of white supremacy by prioritizing their perspectives on accomplishing financial wealth. “Crazy Rich Asians” features the immense dominance of the West in Asia (including the colonies) side by side with a plot showing the rising economic success of Asia. Rachel is an economics professor. It is a film about intermarriage between social classes. Money is important, but so is the Western audience to “Crazy Rich Asians. These beautiful, glamorous, “crazy rich” East Asians in the film show off their wealth to to gain acceptance from the white/Western people who are viewers. This showcase of money serves the purpose of proving their worth. The fact that the film is set in Singapore is of little importance (besides Nick’s Mom disliking Rachel from not being from the area). Singapore primarily serves as an exotic backdrop to enhance the orientalist fantasy that white people have of people in Asia and their culture. “Crazy Rich Asians” is more focused on satisfying white fascination with their conception of “Asia” than it is on accurately portraying the lives of people living in Asia. The lives of these Asian characters are not those of normal people. While there are many different elements of Chinese culture in the film, these elements are what Americans think of as Chinese culture. The stories and realities of Chinese people in everyday are overlooked. These voices are silent in the world of the wealthy were servants do everything for them, Chinese audiences did not support the film due to feeling that the actors who are East Asian Americans were performing the perception of “Asian” for white people.

The film is very enjoyable. Personally, I am of the uplifting of Asian Americans and telling the stories of Asians. This film presented groundbreaking opportunity for Asians to move into the American mainstream film scene. A film with such a predominantly Asian American film has not been made since “The Joy Luck Club” (1993), according to Feminist Frequency Radio #40: Crazy Rich Asians. The film successfully shatters old stereotypes of Asians. The confident, intelligent, wealthy characters are very different from the ridiculous depictions of Asia as a chaotic Chinatown. Hollywood imagery of Asia is still ignorant to a degree. Race and colorism is important to look at when addressing the audience that “Crazy Rich Asians” is made for. Henry Goulding, who portrays Nick Young, is half white. This may seem minor but is important to evaluate in understanding the portrayal of a desirable/important Asian man. He’s the bachelor that all the socialites want to throw themselves at. He’s a person of worth who has obvious value in society. The character was originally written in the book as a Chinese character that is not mixed. This casting decision highlights the white/light-washing that Asians face in the media. This is evidence of the film being geared towards a white audience. Goulding has the ability to appeal to a white audience because of his European features . It is almost like they themselves are being represented. Using an Asian actor who has mixed white ancestry serves the purpose bridging the gap between white audiences and this exoctic Asian fantasy world. Crazy Rich Asians is not meant to be an accurate portrayal of life in Singapore for Chinese people. The film wants to capitalize on white America’s interest in China. 

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