Crazy Rich Asians Is So Fabulously Necessary
If you haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians what are you waiting for? The first book in the series – where the movie spends its time – came out in 2013. The third and final book of the series came out nearly two years ago. I don’t want to hear that, “I want to read the book first,” nonsense. You’ve had plenty of time, girl.
When I read the books I was instantly hooked. What’s not to love? It’s a romance story between two educated adults. The author, Kevin Kwan, whisks us readers away to the riches of Singapore, Asia, and major fashion cities. While transported to new worlds, we get to learn of the vast family riches in the east as well as drool over the ultra-luxe-lifestyle-blog-worthy clothes, cars, and vacations of all the characters.
Sure, the rich boy meets unassuming, poorer girl is not a new story. But for me, seeing a nearly all-Asian cast in cities I have never been to is new. It’s that ideal mix: a story we all are familiar with to bond over and new faces and places to show us how else it can be done.
In a promotional push before the movie opening Variety sat down with the legendary Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh said that when she first came to Hollywood, she was shocked that she was considered as a minority and was continually offered typecast roles. She shared that she thought that notion of her being a minority was ridiculous as China accounts for the largest population in the world with its people in nearly every country. That's just the population of China. Right?
We all know the casting limitations of creativity in Hollywood. It’s taken a lot of time to even get to this point where a major house – Warner Brothers – would back this film. While it’s unacceptable that it has taken Hollywood this long – over 25 years since Joy Luck Club – to put a solid effort behind a predominantly all-Asian cast, they did this story right. It’s all about the characters, in their own world, telling their own story.
I’ll hammer my point home. For each of us to break down our own learned stereotypes and shift our thinking about the strength of diversity, we need to see it thrive in front of us. Different people – not just white people – should be given the space and support to tell their own stories from their own point of view as the central character. Not the sidekick, not just the comedic relief, but also the layered, nuanced main character. That said, if you add in shiny things – like fashion, parties, and ocean views - you’ve really got me interested.
Let’s be real, the fashion was more than good in Crazy Rich Asians. It was luxury at it’s most fabulous. Make no mistake, when it comes to luxury fashion, what the United States spends worldwide can’t pinch an inch of a dumpling compared to the dominance of China. A McKinsey report lays its out:
“The importance of China for the luxury-goods market is best shown through some statistics. The number of Chinese millionaires is expected to surpass that of any other nation by 2018, and by 2021 China is expected to have the most affluent households in the world. In 2016, we estimate that 7.6 million Chinese households purchased luxury goods—a number larger than the total number of households in Malaysia or in the Netherlands. Each of these 7.6 million households spends on average RMB 71,000 in luxury goods per year—which is twice what French or Italian households are spending. Chinese luxury consumers thus account for over RMB 500 billion ($7.4 billion) in annual spending, representing almost a third of the global luxury market.”
Crazy Rich Asians, indeed.
Friends, if you are a white westerner like me hear this: we need to get out of the way and make room for more of this. How we can help, as illustrated by Gabrielle Union, is to buy tickets and amplify the positive coverage. It’s not about featuring you or me. Instead, promote the stories of people from the actual community. Presto. We get to shout out a great film and formerly minimized communities get the chance to shine. Showcasing and celebrating diversity is a win for everyone.