When was the last time you saw a Hollywood romantic comedy about Asian people? Mulan maybe? I can’t remember the last time I saw an Asian man on my screen not doing Kung Fu. Growing up in Australia, there were hardly any Asian representation in movies, apart from badass Lucy Liu from Charlie’s Angels, there was not much to draw inspiration from. Asian men and women aren’t usually depicted in ways that necessarily relate to audiences, rather in ways that further the stereotypes about what Asian people are and what people should expect from them. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Jackie Chan Kung Fu movies but where was the variety for young Asian people to see themselves being represented?
Not seeing yourself represented in popular culture can most definitely lead to feelings of inadequacy and invalidity. Which is why it is important and refreshing to see that in 2018, Hollywood has FINALLY started to produce films with Asian protagonists.
Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy that Australian audiences are in love with, grossing $5.2 million in its opening weekend alone. The film explores the main character Rachel (played by Constance Wu) travelling to Singapore from America with her boyfriend (played by Henry Goulding), who portrays an Asian man with sex appeal and charm, something that is rarely seen in western cinema.
Rachel deals with feelings of inadequacy as she’s only been accepted as ‘good enough’ by her boyfriend’s family. It’s a wonderful portrayal of what it’s like to travel back to a country and have the people who actually look like you, reject you.
Being from a migrant family myself, I certainly related to this theme.
This was such an incredibly important film that I’m sure a lot of people will find themselves reaching for in the years to come.
Another film that has been taking the Internet by storm is a Netflix Original, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, based off the book by Jenny Han. The film has all round amazing reviews, of an Asian American teen who finds herself in a sticky situation, when her little sister sends love letters to all the crushes she’s ever had. Lana Condor plays the likeable, funny and stylish Lara Jean Covey from a close knit middle class family. The film centres on Lara who begins ‘fake dating’ a boy from her school (played by Noah Centineo). To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is an upbeat lovable rom-com that explores the trials and tribulations of dating in high school, made even better by Condor’s stellar performance.
These two films will no doubt be a staple for any rom-com addict, and it helps that there’s interesting relatable themes with characters that aren’t just the usual cookie cutter white guy.
Representation is so important and it’s good to finally see Hollywood realise that there is a market and need for these films, and finally giving us hero characters that we can see ourselves in.