Jiayang Fan, of the Sarah Jeong Defense Space Force, reviews Crazy Rich Asians, and of course slavishly works out the woke aspects of the film vs. its microaggressive stereotypes (“How to Watch “Crazy Rich Asians” Like an Asian-American”). With an array of wealthy, over-achieving Asian characters, the film is:
… articulating uncomfortable truths that are generally too politically incorrect to discuss in the open. At the beginning of the novel, before Rachel starts dating Nick, her friend teasingly accuses her of being a “self-loathing Asian,” since she doesn’t go out with Asian men. “The real reason you treat Asian men the way you do is because they represent the type of man your family wishes you would bring home,” the friend says. “Either that, or growing up as a racial minority in America, you feel that the ultimate act of assimilation is to marry into the dominant race. Which is why you only ever date WASPs.”
Despite her hatred for whiteness, you’ll remember, Sarah Jeong doesn’t date fellow Asians, just white guys. What is most fascinating is how Angry Asians like Jiayang Fan & Sarah Jeong work themselves into a frenzy trying to explain away their sexual fetishes as somehow the fault of The Man and his Microaggressions.
In the past week I’ve learned of an apparently long-standing ‘stereotype’ (Asian chicks wanting to date white guys), and that these very Asians deconstruct it as a visual marker for assimilation, sorta like the way the ethnic Michael marries Kay (the quintessential WASP) in The Godfather.
In her review, Fan writes this rather strange passage with TMI:
In my teens and twenties, whenever I watched the few available movies about Asian-Americans—mostly indie productions—I felt refreshed but suddenly and awkwardly exposed, as you do when, after a shower in a hotel bathroom, you catch a glimpse of your bare body in a mirror that you had forgotten was there. Watching mainstream TV and movies, I rooted for the Asian actor if there was one, but at the moment, in spite of myself, I couldn’t help feeling aspirationally white. How could I not when the characters given the most complexity, screen time, and humanity were the Caucasian leads?
Yes, it’s such a mystery, almost as if the studio systems made movies geared towards the majority population of the movie-going public: whites.
But, it’s revenge time now!
In another scene, at an unspeakably over-the-top bachelor party for Nick’s best friend, beauty queens from the Miss World competition (uniformly Caucasian, sporting bikinis and ceremonial sashes) are flown in. Their appearance is fleeting, as is that of all the white people in the movie—they are tokens in the way minorities have traditionally been in American movies.
Translation: It’s time for Whitey to get in the back of the bus. This is our Black Panther moment!
Fan quotes another Angry Asian critiquing the movie:
But some have also expressed anxiety. “Is this supposed to be our Black Panther moment for stereotype-shattering Asian-American representation in mainstream media?” a millennial from San Francisco asked on Medium.
And, par for the course, it appears Crazy Rich Asians is already experiencing the now standard Coalition infighting:
But a two-hour movie, no matter how action-packed, can’t be all things to all people, or even to all Asians. As soon as the trailer came out, some lamented the absence of South and Southeast Asians. One Twitter user noted, “All the representation talk on the red carpet, yet brown people used as servants, drivers.” Others decried the movie’s failure to depict the life of the vast majority of Singaporeans and Malays, who live workaday lives, and complained of its eagerness to caricature and exoticize Asians to entertain mainstream American audiences.
Fan’s anguish then turns to parody:
I had a concern of my own: What does it mean that “Crazy Rich Asians” must accommodate simultaneous, conflicting demands—to tell a coherent narrative, to represent Asians of all stripes, to showcase Asian culture without alienating the dominant culture, to sell something palatable to the average American—when other movies, starring white leads, are asked only to tell a single story convincingly?
Good luck with all of that!
Lastly, Fan ends her otherwise positive review on a sour note, observing that Crazy Rich Asians invokes the awful and unfounded stereotype of the Tiger Mom:
Asian-Americans, a largely made-up group that is united, more than anything else, by a historical marginalization in society, are desperate for a movie like this one to be perfect, because the opportunity to make another might not arrive for another quarter of a century. In this sense, we can’t help but become emblematic of another stereotype: the overbearing Asian parent, demanding the best of our creation, endowing it with our greatest hopes and, like any good tiger mom, our fiercest criticisms.