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Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Quick thoughts on 'Crazy Rich Asians'

Last evening I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians, and it's everything I thought I didn’t need but my god is it ever so beautifully there. I've stated before that the whole Asian-American representation thing wasn't as big a deal for me as it is for others, but Crazy Rich Asians proved me utterly foolish: it was so awesome to see an English language film full of normal characters I can identify with on a cultural level. 

I never thought the jubilation I got from watching Better Luck Tomorrow the first time could be found again, yet here I am, profoundly moved by Crazy Rich Asians.  

What a wonderful adaption of the novel by director Jon M. Chu and company. Speaking as someone who have read the book, the movie excellently cherry-picked the major components of the story, presenting it with a simplistic fluidity that's equally satisfying for those who haven't read the source material. The minute details on how particular plot-points came to be are all in the novel, should audiences choose to dive deeper. 

I especially loved how even when the film deviates from the book - like the final arc,  little homages are sprinkled in as a nod to those that have read it. It's brilliantly done. 

There were two moments in the film where someone in the theatre was for sure chopping onions: when Kina Grannis (as herself) started singing Can’t Help Falling In Love during the wedding sequence, and in the ending scenes where a cover of Coldplay's Yellow is sung in the background.  

I really dig how Crazy Rich Asians is unabashedly, well, Asian: the themes and motifs are just as they are, pure and unexplained. Particularly, the crucial mahjong scene is sheer genius in it’s absence of how the game is played and what the individual tiles stood for. The creators didn't care you don't know mahjong: it's simply there, unreservedly. The intertwining of Chinese culture within Crazy Rich Asians is deeply heartfelt because it's such catharsis to see it presented without patronization. 

The sequel cannot come soon enough.  

 

For the culture. 

For the culture. 

On the 'Crazy Rich Asians' movie

As soon as I finished reading Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, I immediately thought that it'd be great if it were adapted into a movie. Fast forward a few years later and it's the opening weekend of said movie this weekend. I've been eagerly waiting for it since the project was announced almost two years ago, and I cannot wait to completely obliterate the film for any deviation or omission from the book.

Kidding not kidding; what do you mean Astrid is a Young and not a Leong

Anticipation for a good nitpicking session aside, the Crazy Rich Asians movie is getting massive buzz for being the first major studio-backed film to star a majority Asian cast: 25 years since The Joy Luck Club. 25 years! If you thought African-Americans had it difficult with representation in Hollywood with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Asian-Americans are might as well be invisible. I'm still waiting for the first Asian-American cast member to feature on Saturday Night Live, a show that's been airing for four decades.  

So it's a great occasion, and if you are any parts Asian at all we owe it to our culture to support the Crazy Rich Asian movie, because it must succeed: Hollywood simply won't tolerate its failure. We know the chance is high if Crazy Rich Asians bombs at the box office it'll be another 25 years until the next movie with an Asian cast. That's just how it works and has worked. 

I'm especially happy for the people who are moved to great emotion in seeing Asian representation on the silver screen. Personally I grew up watching Asian movies and television shows so the issue of "representation" was never a big deal for me, because I easily recognized myself in the media I was consuming. That said I greatly appreciate what Crazy Rich Asians symbolizes for many Asian-Americans, and I hope the movie opens the floodgates for many more art projects by Asians to come to the mainstream. 

A quick shoutout to Justin Lin and his seminal Better Luck Tomorrow. It wasn't a major studio film, but it was the first American movie that I saw proper representation: Asian characters as every day people I know, and not the usual kung-fu fighting or submissive damsel. Crazy Rich Asians bows its head to Lin's achievement. 

Early morning setups are always fun and drowsy. Good thing there's catered breakfast which means an abundance of coffee. 

Early morning setups are always fun and drowsy. Good thing there's catered breakfast which means an abundance of coffee. 

Harvard gets sued by Asians

Harvard getting sued for discrimination against Asian applicants is interesting to me because why now? Since the advent of affirmative action and ethnic quotas in schools, us Asians have always gotten the short end of the stick. When you adjust for “equality” based on results then there’s going to be an aggrieved party and unfortunately that’s us. A casualty of success. 

From the time when Asian people first stepped foot on this continent up until now we’ve been discriminated against one way or another (Chinese exclusion act, Japanese internment, you name it). All we’ve ever done in response is put our nose to the grindstone, work hard, and get after success like water dripping on stone. Even if it’s only a penny saved per day, given enough time to compound we got there. 

Asians aren’t vocal complainers and troublemakers. We take the situations and framework as they are work around and with them. Didn’t get into Harvard? We’d just kick ass at another school. Barriers didn’t stop and aren’t going to stop Asians from achieving financial success.

Because up until recent decades, Asians (immigrants) were predominantly poor so the prime objective was to make money - we didn’t have time for political games. Now that we’ve reached those goals and by many metrics are the most affluent ethnic group on average, Asians have the leisure to pursue other arenas of life, like suing Harvard (and other institutions) for blatant racial discrimination.

The political capital of Asian Americans is growing quite quickly. 

Commuting with the morning clouds at Balboa Park station. 

Commuting with the morning clouds at Balboa Park station.