Now that Hollywood appears to have wised up to the Asian market, could the critical acclaim and box-office success of “Crazy Rich Asians” inspire the industry to reconsider its treatment of other under- and misrepresented populations? It’s time — for reasons good, economic and cultural — for filmmakers to commit to greater diversity of race and gender … and age.
The Time magazine article “Seeing is Believing” (8-27-18) discusses the state of Asian representation in the entertainment industry and explains how the hit film “Crazy Rich Asians” signals the future of Hollywood.
WISE UP ON AGING, TOO
While reading Karen Ho’s excellent article, it’s worth considering the obvious parallels between advancing Hollywood’s treatment of Asian Americans with that of older adults. There are lessons to be learned and optimism to embrace.
It is not unreasonable in this case to compare the plight of Asians with that of older adults:
- The film is destined to be a milestone, representing “an underserved audience, the rapidly expanding influence of Asian culture … ,” Ho observed, suggesting the film’s enormous potential.
- “Everyone involved in this film says they hope it will pave the way for a Hollywood that allows many more stories about Asian Americans,” Ho wrote. “And they’re counting on that change to happen quickly.”
- “After years of saying otherwise, Hollywood has finally realized that telling more inclusive stories is just good for business,” Ho wrote.
- “Few major studio productions explicitly aim to educate their audiences …,” but with respect to “Crazy Rich Asians,” Ho noted that “many might walk out with a deeper understanding of the class gradations … And there’s no obvious stereotyping,” she added, referencing such cliché Asian characters as the vindictive dragon lady, submissive China doll, nerdy overachiever or inert sex worker. “’Crazy Rich Asians’ avoids all of these, instead showing the nuances of Asian women’s experiences across generations.”
- The Time article was published before the film opened; it has since more than exceeded expectations at the box office. “Still, there will be other definitions of success, beyond the numbers,” Ho and those directly connected to the film hope, suggesting it presents the opportunity to change the way Asians see themselves. And, ideally lays the foundation for a wider variety of projects which represent the diversity of Asians and Asian Americans.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is an entertaining romantic comedy and a box-office smash, which is what counts most from Hollywood’s perspective. That it has the potential to be a positive cultural influence is a bonus. All of which should embolden industry leaders to attempt to showcase ever greater diversity, inclusion and authenticity. Next up, older adults.