This will probably end up being a bit more of a personal post than I’m used to putting out there but here it goes.
I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians a few days ago. I actually read the book awhile ago before I knew it was going to become a movie and I wasn’t actually the biggest fan of the book. It felt like a typical rom-com that you could find anywhere else but it was a quick and easy read so I finished it. I didn’t think too much about the book following the completion but when I found out there was a movie, I was curious. I wasn’t necessarily excited but I was curious. Then I heard that it was a predominantly all Asian cast and that’s when everything changed.
As you’re well aware, I grew up in Idaho. I didn’t grow up surrounded by a huge Asian community and I found that I definitely took some of the traits from the people I choose to surround myself with. I didn’t grow up with a huge Asian influence and I eventually found myself walking the line between trying to fit in at school while trying to maintain my Chinese traditions at home. It wasn’t easy but it definitely made me who I am today. When I applied for college and a few leadership programs, I realized that I definitely learned how to be adaptable to any environment that I am in and am basically a chameleon. But in the sense that I had to do it to fit in wherever I go. But to be honest, I never really belonged. I was always a little to American when I went to Asia and I was always too Asian while I was in America. My food choices, my values, my priorities were always just a little off dependent on where I was.
Seeing Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my weekend when I went to go see it. And to be honest, it wasn’t the most impressive of movies to me when it comes to the story line. It felt like any other rom-com that you would see in theaters. But what stood out to me and what made me emotional was the fact that I was watching people who grew up like me. Rachel Chu (the main character) was someone who grew up in America while trying to maintain her Chinese heritage and then didn’t really fit in when she met Nick Young’s family in Singapore.
I very distinctly remember two instances in Asia where it was obvious I didn’t fit. I was discriminated against in Taiwan because I didn’t look full Taiwanese and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve experienced. As someone who could understand what people were saying, there’s not a lot you can do when it’s obvious you don’t fit it. The second time was when I was in the Singapore airport. I was super excited to see my friends and yelled in excitement which is more than what you would expect for a standard Asian female since I am exceptionally loud and animated. I remember feeling like all of the energy had been stripped from me when I realized that the entire airport was staring at me and I was obviously, in their eyes, not from there.
But on the flip side, in the States, I’ve watched my family get made fun of for their accents. I’ve listened to comments about my eyes, my food, my traditions, my overall existence as an Asian. While I’ve found some amazing people to surround myself with, it’s always been obvious I’m a little different. Even Asians here have made comments about my accent when I speak Chinese or my lack of awareness of certain things.
That being said, here I was sitting in popular movie theater full of people watching actors go through similar experiences as me. And I could relate, I could understand.
In the end, it was amazing to watch a movie that I could actually relate to. I found characters that I could actually see myself in. I could see the standard struggles of trying to fit in, of listening to the blunt feedback from people, of never really being accepted. It was emotional for me because it was one of the first movies I could actually relate to from a cultural perspective and it was so emotional but wonderful at the same time.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Even if you hate rom-coms, it’ll provide you a new perspective and it’s a beautifully done movie. Check it out, let me know what you think!