This summer, two of the most influential romcoms of 2018 were released with Asians in leading roles: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Crazy Rich Asians. Both of these movies were extremely popular, with Crazy Rich Asians (CRA) breaking multiple domestic box office records and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before blowing up all over social media—proving to the entire world that Asians can successfully have leading roles in American media. On October 15th, the Asian American Alliance hosted a screening of CRA at the Cinepolis. In CRA, Rachel Chu and her boyfriend, Nick Young, travel to Singapore, Nick’s home country, to attend his best friend’s wedding and to introduce Rachel to his, unbeknownst to her, wealthy family. She struggles to be accepted by Nick’s family, particularly his mother, and with her identity as an Asian American. Both movies portrayed Asians in unstereotypical ways and still proved to be successful, paving the way for Asians in the entertainment industry. With the lack of diversity becoming more apparent and denounced, it is important for films like CRA and TATBILB to bring Asian representation to Hollywood.
As a co-leader of the AAA, I realized how important it was for other members of the BC community to see Asians on screen as more than just mystical mixed martial artists but as mothers, sons, economists, real estate agents, and even that annoying cousin everyone had growing up. For the screening, the Asian American Alliance (AAA) extended an open invitation to anyone interested—Asian or not. Lauren Anatol ‘21 who attended the screening said, “I thought the movie was very funny and dealt with multiple things that even I, as a non-Asian person, could relate to and have experienced in some way. Like Rachel’s struggle with being Chinese-American in a room full of Chinese people, I sometimes struggle with being Trinidadian-American and Jamaican-American in rooms full of Trinidadians and Jamaicans.” This relatability is a crucial component of the movie. The themes in Crazy Rich Asians (family, love, and money) can be translated across all cultures which enables viewers, like Lauren, to see a movie with an all Asian cast and not only enjoy it, but also relate to it. Both movies moved away from one-dimensional Asian character tropes (my least favorite is the nerdy, math kid) and depicted Asians as ordinary people with ordinary (movie) problems. People of color are making big strides in Hollywood in terms of representation and these two films are helping Asians join the movement.