‘Crazy Rich Asians’ talk stereotypes

“Crazy Rich Asians,” a “dramedy” that features many elements of Asian culture was presented by the Asian-Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) in Sabine Hall on Sept. 17.

“We chose this movie particularly because it’s the first movie in Hollywood with an all-Asian cast since ‘The Joy Luck Club,’” said instructional specialist Matthew Johnson. 

“Crazy Rich Asians,” which hit theaters in August 2018, came 25 years after the release of “The Joy Luck Club”.

After the final credits, moviegoers Elizabeth and John Fortner shared their thoughts.

“Finally, a film that isn’t overly cheesy as heck,” said John Fortner. 

His reaction was similar to other Richland viewers. The film received wild success in theaters during its release.

The purpose of this event, however, was not just about viewing the renowned film. The main objective was to spark a conversation.

“Our hope is that, especially for our Asian students, this will encourage them to see that their heritage is celebrated and for all students to begin to think about identity, representation and stereotypes not only in Hollywood, but in the broader context as well,” Johnson said.

The following day, APACC hosted a discussion about identity, xenophobia and stereotypes. Students expressed their thoughts on serious subjects, including colorism and split-culturalism. Attendees were encouraged to think of times when they experienced instances of prejudice based on stereotypes in relation to scenes in the film. The intimate discussion provided a space in which students could speak of personal injustices in a way that was transformative not only for the speaker, but for the listener who may not have experienced the same.

Following the discussion, Joan Zelaya, instructional specialist, commented on her experience encouraging student conversation. 

“The students [who] participated seemed to enjoy the discussion and contributed very meaningful and insightful experiences about their own lives,” Zelaya said.

Maho Kaping, who also spoke with students, commented on her experience. 

“I think it was good to have this discussion because it gave us an opportunity to talk about representation in the media, here particularly of Asian-Americans,” she said.

Since the release of “Crazy Rich Asians,” Asian-American actors have taken the spotlight in the media. Movies featuring new faces, such as teen-romance “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” cast Vietnamese-American Lana Condor as the protagonist. It has garnered massive support.

“I think we live in a very diverse country – a very diverse city. Richland is a diverse school and I think it’s important for people to be able to share where they’re coming from and have others listen with open ears and open hearts -- to be able to have open and honest conversations and relationships,” said Meghan Farmer, program services coordinator.

“The Farewell,” released this summer, has already received some rave reviews as the latest film to feature an all-Asian cast – only a year after “Crazy Rich Asians.” The dramatic-comedy follows a Chinese family that finds that their grandmother has a short time left to live. The film features Awkwafina in the lead role. She also appeared in “Crazy Rich Asians.” The film is currently screening at various theaters throughout Dallas and Garland at a discount price.