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.
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:
Joseph Gordon Leavitt (swoon!)
Ezra Miller (also, swoon!)
…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.