Crazy Rich Asians – The Value of Beautiful People

Crazy Rich Asians – The Value of Beautiful People
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Crazy Rich Asians – The Value of Beautiful People

I guess when one is starving he is willing to eat trash.

That’s my best explanation for how a generic, hopelessly shallow movie that showed Asian culture to be even vapider than America’s could become so universally praised.

The controllers of this here popular American culture have elevated skin color diversity to such sacrosanct territory that if you give it a movie with some non-white faces, the rush to praise is sycophantic.

I’m told that now, thanks to the all-Asian cast in Crazy Rich Asians, little Asian kids finally have some real role models. That these same Asian kids who have been growing up to dominate education, medicine and money-making just fine thank you very much will no longer be held back by the bigotry of Hollywood.

Furthermore, the rest of us can now count ourselves as exposed to Asian culture. Which is really quite a relief. All these years we had feared our American exceptionalism was a mirage only to learn in this VERY IMPORTANT film that traditional cultures are so very wrong and America is, in fact, exceptional.

That’s the takeaway, right? Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) constantly jabs the openness of America all while offering a dismal alternative. Yes, “family first” may have been the reason for her family’s wealth, but that’s about the only positive outcome it yielded. Eleanor’s kids are mostly annoying, the entire family runs on high levels of resentment/stress, her husband is completely absent, and the pursuit of the superficial drowns out anything resembling virtue. Then she capitulates as if to say, yes, “American” culture (as represented by Rachel [Constance Wu]) is superior to “Asian” culture (as represented by her). Given all that had been presented in the film this was the absolute correct decision. It was also more than a tad disappointing that Crazy Rich Asians offered zero useful takeaways other than a reaffirmation that elevating a family over the individual is problematic.

Yet, as much as these previous six paragraphs may seem to suggest otherwise, I see merit in the color diversity agenda.

The year was 1997 and the day was the best day for a pre-teen heterosexual boy to receive mail: the day the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue arrived. Tyra Banks was on the cover. Tyra Banks is black. I had honestly never seen such an attractive black woman before. And I wasn’t alone. I have vague memories of discussing this very fact with my fellow adolescents, of concluding with them that white women were not alone in their sexiness.

If there is anything that’s been shown to shift implicit bias, it’s viewing that which is “other” in a positive light.  The base instinct of finding someone attractive is an important way to get there. After all, if you are sexually attracted to the “other,” it is much harder to view that person as “other.”

It’s in this area where Crazy Rich Asians thrived; the film was overflowing with attractive, charming people. This is not trivial.

Plus, I appreciate that for as far as we’ve progressed, people tend to identify with people who look like them. So Asians seeing Asians in the positive light of attractiveness is also not trivial.

Though it seems that a truly advanced civilization will render this tendency maladaptive – that inspiration and association will come from anywhere with equal weight. Is it possible for humans to get there? Let Kanye West lead the way:

“They act like we can’t be inspired by nobody that’s not our culture, color. I love Michael Jordan but I’m more inspired by Steve Jobs. I connect more with Steve Jobs than I connect to Michael Jordan.”

“Crazy Rich Asians” did not make me THINK.

Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) was unfunny 70% of the time. But boy, the 30% when she was funny was pretty great. Like when she faux fights the offer to go to dinner. Or when she takes selfies walking up the stairs. Even during the 70%, her presence was always welcomed.

“Crazy Rich Asians” made me LAUGH.

When will romantic comedy lovers ever learn that keeping a massive secret from one’s significant other, especially a secret that’s 100% bound to be discovered, is a terrible idea? For all of Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) greatness, he somehow didn’t spend the ten seconds required to properly weigh the pros/cons of his deception. Then again, if he spent those ten seconds, the plot of Crazy Rich Asians and some 75% of romantic comedies would be destroyed.

And romantic comedies are great. So great that even with a hackneyed plot, I can still cry during the well-orchestrated wedding (wonderful music) and the you-knew-it-was-going-to-happen ending.

“Crazy Rich Asians” made me CRY.

 

Adam Schaefer

Adam Schaefer

Adam likes banana flavoring more than bananas. His first R-rated movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 3." He is also a semi-famous somniloquist.
Adam Schaefer

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