A screenshot from "Crazy Rich Asians".
By Guest Contributor: Alison Roh Park
This essay originally appeared on Medium.
Within six months of Crazy Rich Asians’ much anticipated release, I was physically assaulted by a White woman in furs on the 6-train in New York City. She shouted at me to go back to China, and shortly thereafter I was verbally assaulted on the 1-train by a musician/busker (and a middle-aged Black gentleman) whom I didn’t have a donation for. Ironically, this was all while I was seated across from two White women also wearing fur.
Asian American New Yorkers have the greatest internal wealth disparity than any other group. Chinese Americans are disproportionately represented under the poverty line, while headlines about massive Chinese real estate buys and a so-called U.S.-China trade war loom on every outlet. This plays out for urban Asian Americans on the hyperlocal level in New York City — for instance, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, overseas Chinese real estate buyers and developers are gentrifying and displacing longtime Chinese residents of this historic neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Asian American women remain pointedly invisible. Shows like The Expanse and Top of the Lake: China Girl (literally — with the White feminist superstar Elizabeth Moss investigating the rape and disappearance of a virtually mute 12 year old Vietnamese girl) hinge on the idea and trope of “Asian Women” and as victims of sexual violence whose end is inevitable, while simultaneously obliterating them from the actual substance of the show.
Continue reading “Crazy Rich Asians and How Hollywood Constructs Race Under Global Capitalism”
Scene from "The Farewell", directed by Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina.
By Guest Contributor: Claudia Vaughan
Editor’s Note: Please note that this post may contain minor spoilers for the film, “The Farewell”.
The Farewell, A24’s latest film
from Chinese-American director Lulu Wang, hit theaters earlier this month,
packing a soft but powerful punch. At its core, the film examines what it means
to be a caring, accountable family member – AND whether that can ever include
being untruthful with your loved ones. The opening scene cheekily notes that
the story is “based on an actual lie,” borrowing from real
events in Wang’s own life centered around her family’s decision to
hide news of her grandmother Nai Nai’s terminal cancer from her. (The story
originally ran as an
episode of This American Life before Wang began developing it as a
The choice not to inform an elderly relative of his/her illness is commonplace in some Asian cultures, as relatives receive the diagnosis from the doctor first and then choose whether that information is actually shared with the patient. Oftentimes it is not, as is the case in The Farewell. Because of the family’s decision to keep Nai Nai’s diagnosis a secret from her, The Farewell quickly becomes a story of what can and cannot be said – both literally, due to language barriers, and figuratively, in terms of what information can be divulged to whom.
One might even say that language becomes a character in its own right, proving to be a source of power – the more of it you have, the more information you accumulate, but, on the other hand, the more responsibility you must then personally bear.
Continue reading ““The Farewell” and the Duality of Language: Finding Depth in What Can and Cannot Be Said”
Sandra Oh at the 2019 Golden Globes.
By Guest Contributor: Jacqueline Wong
history three times at the 76th Golden Globes Awards as
the first Asian American host, the first Asian American woman to win multiple
Golden Globes, and the first Asian American woman in nearly 40 years to win for
Best Actress in a TV Drama for her role in Killing
Yet it was
not just her hosting duties or her receipt of a Best Actress award that made
the night so special for Asian Americans.
Rather, it was how Oh unabashedly celebrated her Asian-ness on live
TV. Asian Americans have rarely been
given the opportunity to have their faces or voices broadcasted live on such a
large platform. By owning her Asian
identity on stage, Oh took back control of the Asian American narrative.
Continue reading “The Triumph Beyond Sandra Oh’s Trophy”
A scene from 'Crazy Rich Asians'. (Photo credit: Warner Brothers / Crazy Rich Asians)
By Guest Contributor: Katie Mantele (@chenqiaoling)
On August 15, 2018, the release of Crazy Rich Asians was celebrated by members of the Asian diaspora across the globe, and especially by Asian Americans who have both longed for and championed more diverse Asian representation in Hollywood. As many other op-eds have pointed out, it is the first major Hollywood studio film that stars an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club twenty-five years ago.
As a 20-something-year-old Asian American woman who was adopted from China and raised by white American parents, the significance of this film was not lost on me, nor was the fact that I have lived up until now not seeing any faces that resembled mine portrayed in such a contemporary and nuanced way.
Continue reading “Reflecting on ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and Being “Asian Enough” as an Asian American Adoptee”
A still from "Crazy Rich Asians" featuring actors Awkwafina, Nico Santos, and Constance Wu.
By Guest Contributor: Do Nguyen Mai
Media is already saturated with unnecessary and unrealistic displays of wealth. Crazy Rich Asians might be a fun, light-hearted summer watch, but we shouldn’t herald the film as adequate or deeply meaningful representation when so many Asian Americans are darker-skinned, working class people, and refugees. Just as Elle Woods of Legally Blonde is hardly representative of most young women, the lives of the characters in Crazy Rich Asians are far from the everyday experiences of most Asian Americans.
Continue reading “Crazy Broke Asians: Asian America’s Forgotten Fight”