Are you crazy and rich enough to be Asian? : analyzing the representation of Asians and the Asian landscape in Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Rayana Jaime Weller
May 20, 2020
Department or Program
Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse
This project analyzes the rhetoric of representation of Asians and the Asian landscape in Crazy Rich Asians (2018). Though this film was marketed and praised as a success for Asian and Asian/American representation in Hollywood, I argue that it is fundamentally a reproduction of Orientalist and White American Hollywood standards and essentializes the Asian identity into a narrow and consumable entity. In order to appeal to its predominantly White female audience, Crazy Rich Asians exoticizes Singapore and the Asian characters to create a narrative of desirability, sometimes at the expense of the Asians themselves. Additionally, the film uses Orientalist tropes, the romantic-comedy and American Dream storylines, visual enthymemes, and traditional Hollywood aesthetics to further the Americanization of the Asian representation. This project highlights the ways in which Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates the narrow racist, classist, and Orientalist narratives around Asians and Asian Americans. Other than presenting Asian bodies, Crazy Rich Asians does little to advance diversity in Hollywood since it exists within these oppressive systems. Ultimately, the film is just a classic White Hollywood movie with Asian bodies and an Asian landscape mapped onto it to add fantasy, escapism, and novelty to the usual cinematic plot of romantic-comedy and drama.