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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Links - 12th May 2019 (1) (Crazy Rich Asians)

Crazy Rich Asians sparks local tour craze : singapore - "For $95 each, participants also get to visit colonial-era bungalows in Nassim Road, the Ee Hoe Hean Club in Bukit Pasoh Road - one of the Republic's oldest millionaire clubs - and the Chijmes nightspot in Victoria Street."

Why Crazy Rich Asians was a box-office flop in China - "Since its release, Crazy Rich Asians has only grossed $1.5m in China, an "atrocious" performance, according to independent China film industry consultant Jonathan Papish."It ranks in the bottom half of all films released in the country this year," Papish told Al Jazeera, pointing out that the film earned even less than Show Dogs, a US family comedy given a paltry 3.6/10 rating on film-ranking website IMDB, which made $2.2m... Chinese cinema lovers have sharply criticised the film online. According to popular reviews posted on Chinese movie websites mtime and douban, Crazy Rich Asians wasn't a celebration of Asian culture - it was a demonisation of it.Many review writers took issue with the film's extreme materialism and promiscuity. "It shows the dregs of oriental culture," wrote one. "A film that openly exposes the 'ugliness' of the Chinese is being brought into our cinemas." While director John Chu said the film aimed to quash stereotypes of Asians, one reviewer said it propagated them, saying "all the female elders in the film are given the most stereotypical and cliche image: serious, reserved and maintaining strict control".Others said Crazy Rich Asians presented traditional forces, embodied by the character Eleanor (played by Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh) as villainous and backward. "The confrontation between Rachel and Eleanor - two women representing completely different countries and ideas about family, marriage and being female - ends with Rachel's victory. It almost implies the destiny of contemporary China: thanks to the wind from the West, the old and unprogressive East is given a new life."... "Rachel is essentially seen [as] a race traitor. She turns up and doesn't speak Chinese, doesn't understand the customs etc Because of her appearance, she's still considered a Chinese person but one who turned her back on her culture"... Hollywood's appeal on the mainland is based on presenting an "exotic white experience". "When they see this movie filled with Asian faces, that's not really what they're used to or want. When they see Chinese faces what they expect is a Chinese story with Chinese sensibilities""

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Flops at the Chinese Box Office - "“So Chinese people in the eyes of Europeans and Americans are just about clans, extravagant snobbery, a blind sense of superiority, and stubbornly clinging to outdated rules and ideas?”Another user dismissed it by saying it pandered to hot-button U.S. issues of ethnic identity and inclusion without depicting anything that felt recognizably Chinese to mainlanders: “Well, guess it keeps the Americans watching it happy.”"

Crazy Rich Asians’ mahjong scene, explained - "All the way back in 1927, about a century after the game was invented, the Chinese scholar and essayist Hu Shi complained that mahjong was so popular that it had become China’s “national pastime,” calculating that the millions of games of mahjong played each day by Chinese were the equivalent of 4 million hours of wasted time daily.But most Chinese don’t see the game as “wasted time.” In fact, despite his grousing, Hu himself was an inveterate player who spent many an evening tossing the tiles. Mao Zedong once said the game should not be underestimated — because “If you know how to play it, you’ll have a better understanding of the relationship between chance and necessity. There’s philosophy in mahjong.”"

How real is Crazy Rich Asians' portrayal of the crazy rich in Singapore? - "A Singaporean socialite in her 50s, who declined to be named, agreed that many of Crazy Rich Asians' opulent scenes are not a departure from reality.She told TNP: "When we have parties, it is not uncommon for butlers or international staff to be flown in for the occasion.""Neither is it uncommon for private jets to be hired, along with supermodels, (or to have) caviar."But she said Chinese-Singaporean old-money families tend to prefer to be subtle, opting to take out their private yachts to secluded islands and keep their wealth under the radar.While Mr Lim said some of the weddings and shindigs he's heard of or seen "can be far bigger and more elaborate than anything in the movie", some parts of the movie were also over-the-top, like Nicholas' grandmother's sprawling mansion at the fictional Tyersall Park.He said such houses are unrealistically large, and there are only three or four such places in Singapore."

How Accurate Was Crazy Rich Asians? Insider Woffles Wu Tells All - "The casting was perfect, accents and all. Within the first five minutes I was already loving the film and laughing out loud at the familiar situations where old and new money collide in the upper echelons of our society. True, the film does not represent all of Singapore but it was never intended to nor was the book. Instead, it vicariously opens a window to those who lead lives of immense privilege.
The accents were a mess

How 'Crazy Rich Asians' Nailed Brand Strategy And Became A Box Office Hit - "(1) create a new “sub-genre,” (2) deeply satisfy narrow customer needs, and (3) lead with an authentic brand purpose... Since its inception, Hollywood made most of its movies for white male audiences under the premise that the largest audience demographic would also be the most profitable. They assumed that most Americans prefer movies with protagonists that reflect their race and gender identity. In reality, minorities and women remain the most frequent movie goers, even though white males make up over 70% of all on-screen protagonists. The producers of Crazy Rich Asians analyzed the novel’s readership before moving ahead with the film. They found that most early fans of the novel were white females in their 20s and 30s."
Maybe this shows that contrary to the gospel of identity politics, people aren't hard up for the narcissistic urge of representation (even those in the majority). Which is why Hollywood movies make more money than Singaporean ones in Singapore
And the fact that Singaporeans Malays and Indians would rather have a Chinese Prime Minister instead of the other minority race suggests that minorities unify around a non-minority instead of other minorities

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ isn’t racist, it is right - "Many voices I respect have criticised the film for being inauthentic and not representing Singapore’s racial diversity; basically, it just features almost all Chinese people and not the other groups who call Singapore home.But I’m not sure this is the issue. I haven’t seen the film but there is no denying Singapore has serious issues with race and representation — isn’t it naïve to expect the blockbuster machinery to be the one outlet that will strive to provide a truly accurate depiction of Singapore?After all, which country hasn’t been grossly misrepresented by Hollywood? Hollywood sells Hollywood and so it presents versions of a country marketable to its audience.However, in this instance Hollywood may have got it right. As you complain about the film’s simplification of Singapore’s racial reality you must ask yourself; is Singapore really so multicultural in the first place?... only around 10-15 per cent of Chinese Singaporeans had attended a Malay or Indian wedding... most of those in the culturally closed off segment tended to be affluent, well-educated English-speaking Chinese.Odd as you’d think more educated, English-,speaking people would be more tolerant and open but in Singapore the opposite is true... Affluent Chinese, in particular, tend to live in houses and condos where they interact primarily with other affluent Chinese... If you look at Singapore’s 30 richest people according to Forbes there are only three Indians and not a single Malay. In that context who is to say the film is inaccurate?From a certain point of view, Singapore does look homogenous. And as writer Kevin Kwan himself admits: this was his reality, growing up."
On the one hand SJWs trash Singaporean Chinese for being racist. On the other they trash a movie showing this 'reality'. Of course, contradictory to the premises of 'representation' theory, they want art to portray not how the world is - but how they think it should be
Looks like the HDB racial quota policy really does facilitate racial interaction

Two films, two faces of Asia — only one is Crazy Rich - "The Singaporean actress Tan Kheng Hua, who plays the mother of one of the lead characters, countered that the film was a reflection of Kwan’s “specific perspective”. She told The Washington Post: “It’s called Crazy Rich Asians, it’s not called Every Singaporean.”"

Fans Concerned When Constance Wu Started Dating White Boyfriend; What If She Married And Made Him Her Husband? - "Fresh of the Boat actress Constance Wu, who has been making a name for herself as someone vocal about the issues of Asian American representation, and while she has been doing so, she has a dating partner, her boyfriend, who is white in race."
Ironic but unsurprising - she follows in the footsteps of Asian American writers who write powerfully about Asianness but marry a white guy

Crazy Rich Asians is just a movie. Let’s not confuse Hollywood with reality - "The issue at hand isn’t whether, or who thinks, Crazy Rich Asians is a good or bad representation, it’s that we, as Asians, actually expect a film to represent all of us and look to the Hollywood film industry to produce such a film... From the 1960s to the 1990s, European co-productions were dismissed by the American film industry for their lowbrow appeal (such as the spy thrillers and horror films of the 1960s and 1970s) and apparent blandness (deemed “Europuddings” in the 1980s and 1990s). During this time, Hollywood sharpened its appeal to transnational audiences by fronting a lifestyle myth: that people everywhere are the same in a consumer culture, in which youth, sex, money are equally objects of desire, so every national cultural identity can be welcomed into a giant happy family with a single identity... We hold Americans accountable for representing us because we privilege Hollywood’s interpretation more than our own... To understand the power we cede to Hollywood, just compare our reception to Bollywood films. These are often exaggerated melodramas divorced from reality. But no Indian in India or America is up in arms over how poorly their romantic lives and economic realities are represented.And even though select Bollywood movies are screened in Hong Kong, no Hongkonger is crying out over the fact that they don’t capture how the poor aren’t mingling with the rich. There is one other reason for Asians not to take cinematic representation too seriously: there is no evidence that shows positive representation of minorities in films causes any positive changes in attitudes towards minorities, as measured by the number of racially motivated crimes or by the values directly reported in values surveys... a lawyer in California (which is already the most accepting of American states), has cited Crazy Rich Asians as proof of the stereotype about the inherent moral deficiency of Asians.Both the foreign racist backlash and Asian quibbles over representation are driven by a belief in Hollywood’s myth that its films define reality, which can’t be further from the truth. We need to stop treating Hollywood as the moral compass for humanity. Only then can we take away its power and regain our own to embrace our own cultural identity. What others say about a man does not matter if he knows who he is.We should know who we are, and it shouldn’t come from what Hollywood says.Let’s just take Crazy Rich Asians for what it is: fiction."

‘Crazy Rich Asians’: Why Did It Take So Long to See a Cast Like This? - The New York Times - "as roles were considered and cast, the filmmakers contended with questions about identity amid the Asian diaspora. Could an Asian play an Asian-American? Could a Malaysian play a Singaporean? And what about an Asian guy with a white mom or dad — could he even be in the running? In Hollywood today, some of the most contentious debates continue to center on just who can play whom... Mr. Kwan said a producer who wanted to option the book had suggested that he make Rachel white. Mr. Kwan refused... “Ordinarily when you’re casting and maybe looking to break somebody, you go to the big theater programs,” Ms. Jacobson said, adding, “But they were like, we have not had a male Asian graduate in years.”... Asian-American journalists and bloggers wrote about the controversy, noting Hollywood’s historical preference for biracial Asian actors (such as Nancy Kwan and Keanu Reeves) and hinting (sometimes more than hinting) that biracial Asians weren’t “real Asians.”"
Too bad Rachel wasn't white, to break stereotypes and have representation of AMWF couples onscreen
The lack of male Asian theatre graduates is telling. SJWs think there's a magic pipeline

Crazy Rich Asians is one of our saddest moments
"This is a movie made in Hollywood with (largely) American money, to appeal first and foremost to American audiences. Why do we think that they should only be allowed to make a movie based on Singapore if it ticks all our boxes for multicultural representation, as if Hollywood owed a duty to help us with nation building... For a country where hardly any international blockbuster films are set, and for the first one since forever, I’ll take what I can get. This is making the perfect the enemy of the good, something I’m unfortunately familiar with in my personal life. Based on the widespread backlash, we don’t seem to want any film to feature Singapore unless we approve of all aspects of its representation of society. Interesting that we don’t ask for that in our own Channel 8 dramas, which barely feature any non-Chinese in more than token roles (if at all), and I’ve followed a fair few of those drama serials... in reflection I don’t see where the film could have inserted any substantive minority characters in anything beyond a role that would then be derided as either tokenism and/or racial stereotyping (the parking auntie, the valet, etc.). The story is about the family and social circle of a very rich, vaguely-Peranakan Chinese family in Singapore. Honestly I’d be surprised if, in real life, any of such a family (and any large degree of their inner social circle) were not Chinese by ethnicity... the thesis being pushed by the critiques appears to be fair that we shouldn’t be representing other cities or regions unless we can do justice to their respective cultures. I can’t think of a movie that was set in New York or London or Paris that could be said to have truly captured the multiculturalism of these cities. Movies are imperfect. They do what they can within the bounds of the story their given. If we want a more culturally accurate portrayal in Hollywood, we need to get a story that either addresses it or accommodates it, accurately turn it into a screenplay that can sell in at least some the biggest media markets (ie the US, Europe and China) and then fund it ourselves so we can set the direction"
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