See More on Facebook

Curiosity

Why Crazy Rich Asians matters for all Asians, not just Asian Americans

Actor and Filmmaker James Tang takes a look at the negative criticisms of Crazy Rich Asians from around Asia and says you’re all missing the point.


Written by

Updated: August 27, 2018

Despite opening at #1 in the US and exceeding box office expectations, there have been viewers in mainland Asia that have taken a more sceptical stance towards the Crazy Rich Asians hype.

The argument generally goes something like this:

“This isn’t groundbreaking, we have our own film industries here.”

“How can a movie with Asian in the title claim to show the experiences of people from an entire continent?”

“It’s just a win for Asian-Americans and nothing more than Hollywood hype.”

Though I see where they’re coming from, these points are missing the forest for the trees. China and India are the 2 most populous countries in the world and have film industries that reflect that, but what are the exact numbers? The highest grossing Chinese film of all time is WOLF WARRIOR 2 (2017), which brought in around US$870 million worldwide. India’s highest grossing film, DANGAL (2016), has a worldwide gross of just over US$300 million.

When placed on a list of the highest grossing films of all-time, however, these films land at #61 and #438, respectively. To compare, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, BLACK PANTHER, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, and THE INCREDIBLES 2 were all released in 2018 and have already reached the top 20.

The rest of this list is populated with giant Hollywood franchises. Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter, Jurassic World…you get the picture. The fact is, Hollywood still has the most powerful global marketing and distribution network.

So how does this affect mainland Asians? We have our own film industries and don’t need to worry about the lack of representation that Asian-Americans face. Or do we? These massive blockbusters make their way to countries around the world, but when a film like INFINITY WAR is about Earth’s mightiest heroes protecting the planet against an alien threat and the heroes don’t reflect the demographics of the actual Earth’s population, is that truthful representation?

No groups of Chinese or Indian superheroes were available to fight Thanos? On that note, why haven’t we seen a Middle-Eastern Tony Stark? A Southeast Asian Harry Potter? Though well represented in local Asian cinema, there is still much progress that can be made for Asians (and others) on the international level.

Enter Crazy Rich Asians. It’s the first film produced by a Hollywood studio with a modern, all-Asian cast in 25 years and it’s being given a wide, international release.

People from across the globe will experience all different types of characters without martial arts, refugees, or prostitutes.

Is it representative of every Asian perspective and demographic? No, and it would be impossible to fit all that into a single film, but its success is the gateway to more projects with more representation.

Films do have an impact on society, and the more we can see people from all different ethnicities and cultures portrayed as humans and not stereotypes, the easier it will be to humanize, learn from one another, and grow. At the very least, maybe we can get some more Asian superheroes.

 

James Tang is an actor/filmmaker with an international background based in Los Angeles, USA. You can follow his adventures on social media: @jamesthetang



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Asia News Network
About the Author: Asia News Network is a regional media alliance comprising 24 media entities.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity

Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting

The government’s hosting of the event has so far been disastrous. Private companies and well-meaning individuals are stepping up to help the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games football tournaments. Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said Southridge School in Alabang has offered its artificial pitch as one of the practice venues for the tournaments, while Vallacar Transit, which owns the Ceres Bus line, has provided 18 of its newest buses to transport teams to their matches. Vallacar is headed by Leo Rey Yanson, who is also the owner of the country’s top football club, Ceres-Negros. Ceres buses were also used by organizers the last time the country hosted the tournament in 2005, following complaints with the vehicle being used by the teams. The 18 buses are intended for the 11 men’s teams and six women’s squads with one spare bus in case


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 27, 2019

Curiosity

Regretting China’s absence at key space forum in US

Critics question space panel without China. China’s absence from an important global space conference was a missed opportunity for collaboration, an American scientist said at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) on Wednesday. The Chinese space delegation, whose members include Wu Yanhua, vice-administrator of the China National Space Administration, was absent from the weeklong 70th IAC, scheduled to conclude Friday in Washington. A moderator of an opening plenary panel where Wu was expected to speak on Monday said Wu’s absence was because of a “scheduling conflict”. But China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed early Wednesday that it was due to a visa issue and it urged Washington not to “weaponize” visas and hinder normal international cooperation. “I think it was hoped that China would be present so that multilateral talks could


By China Daily
October 25, 2019

Curiosity

Lombardo’s The Most Expensive Burger In Singapore comes covered in gold leaf, costs $250

Profits go to The Children’s Charities Association of Singapore so you can tuck in and do good. If you are wondering what The Most Expensive Burger In Singapore tastes like, check it out at Lombardo’s Burger, a new burger joint in Duxton Road, from Friday (Oct 11) to Oct 21. That is the name of a burger created for the official opening of the eatery on Friday and the price is a whopping $250. It comes with a 200g patty of seared Japanese Kobe wagyu brisket topped with a butter-poached lobster tail, pan-seared foie gras, banana shallots braised with champagne, shaved Italian truffle, spicy red cabbage compote and a spoonful of caviar. And the top of the bun is covered in gold leaf. Profits go to The Children’s Charities Association of Singapore to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by children with disabilities. Lombardo’s is the first international franchi


By The Straits Times
October 10, 2019

Curiosity

8 Coast Guard personnel found guilty in death of Taiwanese fisherman

The case stems from an incident in 2013. The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 15 has found eight members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) guilty in the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hong Shi Cheng off  Batanes in 2013. Found guilty were Commanding Officer Arnold Dela Cruz, Seaman 1st Class (SN1) Edrando Aguila, SN1 Mhelvin Bendo II, SN1 Andy Gibb Golfo, SN1 Sonny Masangcay, SN1 Henry Solomon, SN1 Richard Corpuz and Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Renold Aurelio. The incident strained the relationship between Taiwan and the Philippines.As a result of the incident, the Taiwanese government has stopped the issuance of visas to Filipinos workers seeking jobs in Taiwan. The Philippines sent a representative and delivered the government’s official letter of apology to soothe the strained relations. The PCG in 2013 said its personnel acted in self defense when it opened fire at Taiwanese fishing ve


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 18, 2019

Curiosity

Disaster training targets mosquitoes with dengue virus

Japan is preparing for every scenario ahead of Tokyo 2020. As part of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, disaster training was conducted at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo on Monday in a scenario where the dengue virus had been detected in mosquitoes. Monday was the usual weekly closing day of Shinjuku Gyoen, and about 160 people, including staff from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, participated in the training. During the exercise, they used a method called “human decoy,” in which a person stands in place for eight minutes to attract mosquitoes. They then sprayed insecticide around mosquito concentration points to confirm whether insects would be eliminated. Dengue causes fever, headache and joint pain three to seven days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. In rare cases, the disease is severe


By The Japan News
September 3, 2019

Curiosity

India successfully places probe in moon’s orbit

Landing attempt will take place on September 7. In a significant step for India’s moon mission, Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was successfully placed in the moon’s orbit on Tuesday in a nerve-wracking manoeuvre, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) was completed successfully at 9.02 am as planned using the onboard propulsion system. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy. “The duration of manoeuvre was 1,738 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114km X 18,072km,” the ISRO said. The 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2, a three-module spacecraft comprising an orbiter, Lander Vikram and rover, which was launched on July 22, will make a soft-land on the moon on September 7. The process of setting down Chandrayaan 2 on the Moon i


By The Statesman
August 21, 2019