Crazy Rich Asians

Vivian Wu, Story Editor

The dream to be a movie star sprouted in my head the first time I watched Pride and Prejudice at the age of 11. I would imagine myself in the same pretty gowns, in front of a backdrop of rolling green hills. Besides the fact that I had no theatrical talent whatsoever (like the inability to portray any other emotion that couldn’t be done by smiling), I knew by the age of 14 that, that dream of being an actress would never be achieved. If I couldn’t have figured it out myself by the numerous books and films I’ve read since elementary school that had never presented an Asian narrative, my mom made it quite clear when she told me, “Your skin is not pale enough nor your eyes big enough to be in any American movies.”

   It never occured to me to ask why. Why is it that white people can be superheroes and villains, princesses and knights, wizards and zombies, but I could not be American? In Hollywood, Asian people can only be martial artists or poor Chinese immigrants who can’t speak English. In Hollywood, I am nothing more but caricatures of my race and culture.

  That’s why when I first saw the trailer for a movie about not just Asian people, but Chinese Americans, I was beyond excited and terrified for the release of “Crazy Rich Asians.” The movie tells the story of Rachel Chu, a middle-class girl meeting the family of her ‘crazy rich’ boyfriend for the first time and her struggles with self-identity. Rachel is chastised for having grown up in America with American values and is seen as a ‘foreigner’ by her boyfriend’s mother, Eleanor Yung. However, even with the themes of racial and cultural identity and the importance of filial piety, “Crazy Rich Asians” is essentially a romantic comedy. Viewers shouldn’t leave the theater with a heavy heart but instead feel like they’ve spent their money on a worthwhile and entertaining movie.

  For once, my culture and my experience are not to be glorified or for white people to feel sorry for. In case Hollywood hasn’t realized, I am a normal American girl who can speak perfect English. I don’t live in a nail salon or Chinese restaurant, and no one I know in real life actually does karate. Like Molly Ringwald, my face can be on the cover of a romantic comedy.

  This idea, that not every racially diverse movie has to be significant and thematically consequential, is what will allow us to see more people of color in Hollywood. Asian Americans, like white people, should be allowed to portray the vast majority of characters rather than just their stereotypes, and I, an American first and foremost, should be allowed to feel connected to and represented in my own country.