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Crazy Rich Imperialists?

Theatrical Release Poster

Spoiler alert for Crazy Rich Asians.

Even as our culture becomes ever the more overtly pornographic, misogynistic, jingoistic and punitive, liberal identity politics movies continue to be made. I for one am pro-identity politics, just because I assume liberals will not change radically and therefore we should admit this is the best they’re going to get. I thought Wonder Woman and Black Panther should have been made simply because if they weren’t we would have seen another violent racist and sexist superhero movie in its place. Not that Wonder Woman and Black Panther were much different other than identity, but still.

So I went to see Crazy Rich Asians. I haven’t liked or had much interest in seeing a Hollywood movie for a long time. I didn’t particularly like this movie either. Although it really was a fun movie I thought. Most Hollywood movies just aren’t very fun. And the cast was all Asian, which certainly was cool. The more depressing element of the experience was that my friends and I were the only people in the local theater. Movies may not be that social but they used to be an event. Netflix and Amazon have finished what AMC started.

Now it was still Hollywood. Which meant at least one creepy scene that the woman victim found a little funny. This time it was the chubby nerdy Asian filming the “small tits” star of the show with his cell phone. She asks how long he has been there, and he responds just a little while and she laughs. And this nerd’s father is commenting on the girl’s ass and everyone is laughing and whatever. No wonder #MeToo was so prominent in Hollywood. I remember the actor who played the Dad also starring in that hideous movie The Hangover. He had a micro penis in that movie. Here’s one for Asian representation.

Now there was a fairly engaging plot of this super rich guy from China falling in love with an economics professor who was Chinese-American. I don’t know why she had to be an economics professor. The girl was the daughter of an immigrant (take that Trump?). Her mother of course worked really hard and that was really important to say. She probably also was exploited with unlivable wages by a vicious immigration policy in the first place. This was not so important to say I guess.

The big event was that the rich guy brought the poor girl back to see his family. Now these Crazy Rich Asians were crazy, rich, and Asian. They were really mean to the ‘poor girl’ their relative had brought home. The rich people were all assholes, let’s give the film credit for that. It would have been nice to see the perspective of the working people who made their lavish lives possible.

However, the central divide between the families was not money, but culture. The American culture said follow your dreams, the Chinese culture said follow your family. I don’t know, maybe there is some truth to that. But you hear it from every story. Seems tired and stereotyped.

The rich guy’s Mom told the girlfriend she would never sacrifice herself for the family in the way she needed to. In other words, she would never give up her career to take care of the family. In other words, Chinese women are not feminist/Western or something, I don’t know. Anyways, the girl was reasonable enough to reject the marriage proposal of her boyfriend because she knew this would mean his family would hate him.

Now this could have been the end of the movie. Both sides had some good points but they were different and we should all exist together or something. But no, after the Chinese-American girl proved how much dignity she had, the Chinese mother had to admit hey, actually all my ideas about family and working together and whatever were actually just really stupid and backwards and the American I just met and sincerely hate knows better than me. Mom gives family ring to son, he proposes again, she says yes, and we all live happily ever after.

Ultimately the triumph was for cultural imperialism. This is not to say that all Chinese people think one way, or all American people think another way, as the movie indicated. It is to say that the moral of the story was that America was progressive, feminist, cultured, etc. and that the Chinese were not. Therefore, America had the God given right to come in and change China’s culture to match our own. Not a very progressive storyline after all. Still, give this movie an Oscar for having an all Asian cast. It’s the most progressive thing Hollywood is capable of.

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Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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