‘Crazy Rich Asians’: wealthier than Mr. Jay Gatsby

Film showcases cultures that aren’t normally seen in portrayals created by Western society




MARY GINTHER, Evergreen columnist

If you thought Jay Gatsby was rich, just wait until you meet the Youngs.

The movie “Crazy Rich Asians” is a romantic comedy that has created a new era for Hollywood films. This is because it is one of the first successful American-made films to include an all-Asian cast, related cultural traditions and an authentic film setting in one movie. This film has rolled out the red carpet for a broader audience around the world.

The film follows Rachel Chu, an American-raised economics professor, who is invited to a wedding in Singapore by her long-term boyfriend Nick Young. While in Singapore, she meets Nick’s family and it turns out to not be a regular family gathering. Nick’s family is rich. Not in a normal way — as the title suggests, they are crazy rich.

Throughout the movie, Rachel struggles with Nick’s family stereotyping her because she is American and facing ridicule for being out-of-touch with her cultural background. Her ultimate struggle is to get the approval of Nick’s mother, Eleanor Young.

I found this film to be empowering because it displays a female protagonist who doesn’t conform to the norms set by those who are superior, such as Nick’s family, friends and past girlfriends.

This film also has a significant impact on its audience because it provides an accurate representation of a demographic that isn’t usually shown authentically in American films.

“This movie means a lot to me because I’m half Japanese and I watch a lot of movies, but … they are usually white-dominated,” WSU sophomore Natalie Newcomb said. “ ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was the first movie that I have ever seen that had a full cast that was Asian.”

A popular theme in the film was the idea of the “banana,” or being an Asian person who seems stereotypically white.

Despite the sad meaning of the slur in the movie, Newcomb said it serves as a reflection of how people can think Asians are “white” on the inside when they supposedly don’t have any culture left.

She said it was important for this movie to include this term because it shows how there is discrimination happening within cultures outside the U.S.

“When I was younger, I had a lot of culture still left in me, but [in] Pullman I barely have any Asian friends since everyone is mostly white,” Newcomb said. “I feel like I need to take a moment to remember my own culture.”

One reason film companies stay away from cultural movies is the fear of receiving backlash from showing offensive stereotypes. However, “Crazy Rich Asians” presents these topics in a sophisticated way.

“It was funny because a lot of the things that were stereotyped were true,” she said. “At the very beginning, when they were taking pictures [of Rachel and Nick], everyone knew [the gossip] instantly — every Asian family is like that. It is a stereotype, but it’s true.”

If you are interested in the idea of taking a trip to Singapore with a handsome, rich man, go see “Crazy Rich Asians” in the CUB Auditorium this weekend. Showings are at 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday as well as 4 and 7 p.m. on Sunday. There is free popcorn while supplies last, and tickets are free for students and $2 for non-students.