3 September 2018 | joweenee
First the basics
There are three complaints:
1. Celebrates perversity - romance and materialism are too intimately tied together (i.e. gold-digging) that both end up being expounded in their superficiality and unreality
2. Limited representation - only "Chinese" Asians and only extremely wealthy individuals are portrayed, undermining the efficacy and diversity of true "asianhood"
3. Shallow plot and characters - overused story-line about romance and familial tensions, a pure imitation of Western desires with a lack of oriental authenticity, leading to a paper-thin plot protracted by stereotypes
1. If you actually consider how the movie plays out, the elements that supposedly celebrate exuberance and materialistic romance are either dismissed in their possible retention of worth or confined to brief stylistic moments which throw the more intractable experience of love without materialism into stark relief. There is so much evidence of this throughout the film - every point of excess ingrains in us, as an audience, a sense of disgust or doubt - is that not then the point? Plus the title literally spells the theme out for you "Crazy Rich", so yeah. What did you expect?
2. Now the second part of the title"Asians". I agree, the film does not cover every individual that would be qualified under the term in an ethnic or otherwise geographic sense. But why did it have to? It is not a documentary. It does not aim for absolute objective authority, it tells a story with insight into a limited persona with limited struggles and limited breadth. The assertion that the movie is inaccurate or "bad" because it does not show us every type of Asian is extremely unfair - at least they showed us some (where most do not show any) and they did it in a way where the central aspects of being Asian are still on display (e.g. filial guilt, patriarchy).
3. This then leads me to my next point. What is the big picture? Sure we could convert this movie to have an all white cast and the general story-line and characters would not have to be completely revised, I concede that. But, to me the appearance of an all Asian cast in big budget Hollywood - twenty-five years after "The Joy Luck Club" - means a lot. I think even if you take the plot at its worst - dreary, old garbage - and the inclusion of Asians as mere tokenistic market-pandering, I still stand by this film. Because to me this film is a gateway to all the things that people have been so frustrated and disappointed about, it is a film that in its very existence can forge the path for much broader and deeper representation or discussion. You will not be able to overturn all Asian stereotypes or perfectly represent all Asians overnight, it is an ongoing process that begins by giving the "asian-face" more airtime. Plus I thought the way females were portrayed in this film has been misconstrued and under-evaluated. Just saying.
Watch the film and see what you think.