Asian Men Are Still Taking “Ls” in Crazy Rich Asians

(Minor spoilers ahead).

I want to preface this negative review with some positivity.

Crazy Rich Asians is a great movie for the Asian community at large. Overall it’s a step forward for Asian American representation in Hollywood, and its success should lead to more movies like it being made. These points should not be taken lightly.

However, Asian guys still aren’t getting much love.

It’s been pointed out many times, the lead actor is half-white on his dad’s side. His name is Henry Golding.

Henry Golding

Yes, other news sources have commented too…

And I can’t believe the outrage isn’t more so. Talking to a few Asian people in the film industry, most are blindly okay with the main guy (who’s Chinese – Singaporean) to be played by a half-British actor who barely looks Asian.

It’s made me realize that Asian men are in a worse place than I even thought, as we’re blindly okay with being whitewashed under the guise that this dude will help our representation.

Now you might ask, why does this even matter? At least he’s half-Asian right?

There’s nothing wrong with being Hapa, and I definitely don’t hate Hapas at all. I love the fact that Henry Golding is repping Asians.

The real issue I have is this. I was clamoring for some guy who’s full Asian to really make a difference in Hollywood. This movie could’ve helped us find that person, but it didn’t.

Subconsciously, it also puts forth the message that there is not a single full Asian male in the world who was good enough to portray a lead in a Hollywood movie. They did a whole world-wide casting, and the best they could come up with was this dude, a half-Asian.

The problem is that we all know most Asian men don’t really look like Henry Golding. He’s not a feasible role model.

To make matters worse, Golding’s character, Nick, is given almost no character development throughout the movie. He’s he’s portrayed as an oblivious “hunk” who doesn’t even have the decency to prepare his poor girlfriend for the onslaught that is meeting his super-rich parents.

I would’ve liked to see some edge in his character. Even in one scene where a guy blatantly insults his girlfriend, he doesn’t really do anything about it.

In addition, all the full Asian men in the movie were neutral or excessively feminine. There’s a guy with a six-pack, but even he ends up negatively portrayed by the end of the movie.

Even the worst Asian actor of all time, Ken Jeong, is in the movie (Jesus!). This is the guy who set Asian men back 10 decades with his role in The Hangover and is still using tired old Asian stereotype tropes in his stand up.

The problem is…

In a movie that was supposed to be the saving face for Asian representation, the message that was loud and clear was that full Asian men can’t be leading actors unless they’re “mixed” with White blood.

But it also sets a bad precedent.

Jon Chu could have made a statement. He could have stood up for the whitewashing of Asian male characters and he could have helped Asian men lose their perception problem in the USA. Instead he just said, “eh… well this half-Asian guy who barely looks Asian is good enough.”

So if one of the biggest Asian American directors thinks it’s okay for the Asian male lead to be half-Asian, how is this going to affect other filmmakers who don’t even care about Asian American representation?

It hurts me to say this.

Because on one hand, I love Jon M. Chu for the extra representation he’s given to Asians (previous version of this article we mistakenly credited him for casting Han in Fast & Furious, but that was actually Justin Lin).

On the other hand, this role could have been a starring vehicle for a male who is full Asian, who could have represented Asian men on the big screen.

Instead some people are thinking, they couldn’t even find a single full Asian male to play a lead in a movie with an ALL Asian cast.

That’s the narrative that’s going to be out there, whether Jon M. Chu wanted it or not.

Again, I’m disappointed, but still optimistic.

I believe that with Crazy Rich Asians, Hollywood will see that Asians can star in and lead movies. And in fact with the viral help of the Asian community, many will realize that Asian Americans are dying to see more representation.

And even though this whole article sounded pretty negative, I still wholly believe this is a step in the right direction.

And maybe I’m wrong, maybe we needed a baby step before seeing a full Asian male as the main lead in a romantic comedy. Either way, I think with our collective energies, we’ll eventually get there.

Written by kevinhype