Crazy, Rich Diversity

I really intended this post to be a lighthearted poking of fun at myself for crying copiously yet again in yet another movie. At least this time, with the movie in question being Crazy Rich Asians, I wouldn’t have to be too ashamed of my emotional dark movie theater melo-theatrics since is was at least a rom-com versus – I dunno – Mission Impossible.

I kid. That’s about the only movie I saw this summer-slash-who-am-I-kidding-year that I didn’t cry at.

…at which I didn’t cry? Yeah, that’s better English.

But then I got distracted and never tapped out the piece. The first thing that distracted me was not all that surprising: Asians were having widely reported similarly emotional experiences, although theirs went beyond just seeing a well executed rom-com starring Asian actors…the first in 25 years in the US, by a US studio.

That caught me off guard.

But I loved reading about the Asian culture nuances that triggered these folks. I didn’t love reading about how white people in America represent 60% of the population and 74% (ish) of the US studio produced movie roles while Asians make up 6% of what sounds like a super low and wrong statistic of the US population but only 4% (again, ish-ish) Of the movie roles in their natural or naturalized home country. Most of those roles are ninja types and silent concubines that provide flavor but no real presence to the films they are in.

So…yeah, I got distracted.

Then the Emmys aired and Sandra Oh became a meme

And I was off to the racist.

Er…races. Really?!? How is this possible?!? Now, I didn’t fact check this assertion that in 2018, Sandra Oh is the first Asian woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Emmy…but I did check my surprise. I think I was more surprised that I wasn’t that surprised after thinking on it for a bit.

The Emmys, like their Oscar counterpart for film, have always been a white persons club. There’s an award show color hierarchy:

Gold: the statuettes

White: the winners

Every other color: token seat fillers

After all, the Emmys vigorously patted themselves on the back for Rami Malek’s Lead Actor win in 2016. But as a person of Egyptian descent, he’s barely in the POC column.

Sidenote: Dear Rami,

Dating your female lead from the Queen biopic? Still not buying your heterosexuality. But it’s cute.

Yours truly,

Waiting4U in Portland

Wanna know what really makes me feel bad about Crazy Rich Asians?

It’s that at some point – before seeing the movie or maybe leaving the theater after – I thought, “Wow. First Black Panther and now this…2018 is shaping up to be a big year for minority driven mainstream movies!”

That’s like the cinematic version of latently racist comments like, “I’m not usually in to black guys, but…” that sound like compliments but are really offensive. Either someone is an attractive person or they aren’t attractive to you, then they are everything else they are.

Either you like a movie or you don’t. The story is good or it isn’t, then there’s everything else about it.

So, for a moment there I felt bad about liking this movie that made me feel good. This show that I liked so much. But after checking my latent racism, I decided that, yeah…I’m a little racist, but mostly because I’m lazy. Kind of like I’m lazy about adopting inclusive pronouns to be more gender inclusive in my conversations.

What can I say? People are still largely oblivious, selfish jerks. And I’m a people, so at least I’m cognizant of the opportunities I have to become better. I think that puts me ahead of the general population – also, I don’t take duck lip selfies for the Instagram and never take pictures of my food in fancy restaurants.

So, there’s that, that and that.

Still, latent racism aside, I’m seriously ready for the Freddie Mercury biopic to come out in November. Not only to see Rami play Freddie, but because it’s a movie about a thrilling pop culture phenomenon who was a minority, played by an actor who is also a minority instead of whitewashing the casting like Hollywood so often does.

Seriously, early considerations for the role in its various early incarnations – that couldn’t be made until Hollywood got over itself about race and AIDS – were:

Ben Whishaw

Adam Lambert

Hugh Jackman?!?

Joseph Gordon Leavitt (swoon!)

Ezra Miller (also, swoon!)

Zachary Quinto

…c’mon! There’s some dark complexions in that group, but the closest we get to diversity is Judaism or being Australian.

Between now and then, I’ll keep myself busy with Searching. It’s a John Cho movie where Cho plays a father looking for his missing daughter by spelunking through her digital/virtual life and learning that we don’t always know those closest to us as well as we think we do.

I’m excited about it because it’s a movie that could have been cast differently. Sure, the Queen movie could have cast a white actor, Crazy Rich Asians was pretty much boxed in with its casting…but Searching could have gone a different direction. It’s a story about a missing child and what a parent will do to find her.

The bottom of my friggin’ glass is covered with the optimism I have that choices like this will become more commonplace in the hopefully not-distant-at-all future.

Crazy, Rich Diversity

14 thoughts on “Crazy, Rich Diversity

  1. I stand with Lenny Bruce on the Racism/life-ism front. Unweight the hate words and move on. Judging by your %-ish I assume HopSing never got nominated for a supporting role on Bonanza? And Grasshoppah wasn’t really Asian? Next you’ll tell me Michaeal Dudiwhatsit isn’t a Ninja? Jeez…Here’s the corker in all that universality bottle. What if they’d just called it Crazy Rich? Made it like The Longest Yard or one of those Walter Mathau movies. Just a title. No. They knew exactly what they were selling and sold out. I hate that. It’s as bad amaking noise about a “black” movie or “Bollywood” or the gazillion “Asian” martial arts and hold and blink monster animation and the fact that Amos and Andy got blacklisted and probably erased from history but black dudes can be White Chicks. What they need for Freddy Mercury is somebody with the teeth and the nose and the physique who can carry off being so much larger than life as Freddie was. I don’t care where he’s from or what color he is or who his momma was, he’d better damn well do Freddie justice. That should be the point. Who cares if FM was gay or whatever the hell ethnicity, or the Crazy Rich are Asian or any of that? People are people. Movies are movies. One of my favorite movies of all time might be stereotyped but it should have won its own Oscar. The Green Pastures, 1936, followed by Smoke Signals. And I’m an old white guy who thinks it’s the 21st century and we should all just do stuff together. Frightening, I know. But look at the Navajo. We’re all the same thing, everything on the planet. So why be Crazy Rich Asians? to sell out, to build another stereotype? Maybe if somebody were to make a movie that tells a real story about black folks that aren’t angry or asians that aren’t martial artists and call attention to the artistry of the performance instead of selling stereotypes things would change. Call me old fashioned, but perpetuating racial stereotypes for $ changes nothing but a handful of people’s bank accounts.
    Funny movie, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had the same – well, somewhat the same since you decided and I’m still ambivalent – about calling out the Asian aspect. I want there to be some greater purpose than monetizing a minority or pandering to a specific audience…that’s why I appreciated the cultural Easter eggs so much. It was a treat and sign of authenticity for those who know.
      I’m still ruminating, though!


      1. Yeah, but isn’t that sort of like the Navajos playing Comanches shaking their spears and talking about how small John Wayne’s penis is when told to speak “authentic indian”? I mean, just as an example?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again on this – The Great State of Washington is being sued because of their minority and women’s business opportunities department’s (lack of) policy. A person took their DNA results that showed them to be a given %-ish Native American and %-is Sub Saharan African. The department called BS because the test might be bunk, and dig this language, he was not “visibly identifiable” as a minority. A state run agency using a policy of perception (!) to determine minority or ethnic status. What we’re all supposed to be fighting, right? I’m waiting here – what does “visibly identifiable” Gay look like? Shoes, pants, tight t-shirts? Is hipster a disease or ethnicity or minority? what about white kids with crooked ball caps and starched carpenter shorts down around mid thigh held in check with a grip to the crotch. If they aren’t really bangers are they a minority? Here we are back to the old white guy who played Charlie Chan. If he “rooked paht of Chinaman” it was close enough? It was right? Don’t get me started on Westerns and the Navajos. Why is Obama always black? Why are Asians Rich and Crazy? Why is there nothing about Bollywood or Desi in the title of Bend it Like Beckham and it’s a great film? When does it stop? When we stop buying the stereotypes the media depends on for identifying us.
    The dude was trying to get his foot in the door for $ gain, but it points to a much larger problem when stereotyping and profiling are used for access to government programs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, first off: hipster is a disease. A scourge!
      But…wow! Perceptively Identifiable?!? Fucking Washington State. If you’re going to have a government office, you’re gonna need…a rubric? Is that right? I agree with not opening the door to all the 23 and Me nonsense when it comes to qualifying an ethnic status. It hip, it’s hackable. Who needs that?!? But you gotta have a go-to test that establishes eligibility or…membership.
      This from the state with old whatshername from SpoVegas that was Black cuz she lived – ie: fetishized – Black.

      Liked by 1 person

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