Singapore & Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is the first major studio film since the Joy Luck Club 25 years ago to feature a uniquely Asian-American story with an all-Asian cast. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but personally for me, this is a tremendous achievement for all Asian-Americans and people of color. I laughed, I cried, I felt the intrinsic connection to certain elements in the film of dutiful obligation that are uniquely Asian.
I echo those sentiments and truly believe Jon, Kevin Kwan, and the colorful cast of Asian actors from around the world including Henry Golding, Constance Wu, Ronny Chieng, Michelle Yeoh, Jimmy O. Yang, Akwafina, Ken Jeong, and Gemma Chan have done a tremendous job carrying the torch of the bigger, broader, discussion of diversity and inclusion and shows how much representation matters. Beyond trailblazing firsts, its just a great, fun film with the beautiful backdrop of Singapore.
As someone who grew up first generation from Cupertino (which is where Rachel's extended family is from in the book), I often struggled with embracing two cultures as an ABC - American-Born Chinese. I was made fun of in my all-white grade school for bringing Chinese food for lunch, heard all the slant-eyed jokes, and other lame stereotypical racist remarks that I have compartmentalized and locked up in the back recesses of my memory. On one occasion around 3rd grade, I remember bringing my uneaten dried fried fish and seaweed sandwich home and told my mom that all I wanted from then on was ham and cheese sandwiches. From that moment on, that was all I got for years; 2 slices of bread with ham and a kraft american cheese square. It was a moment that stuck out in my memory because I just wanted to fit in and be 'American'. Looking back, I can't believe I chose nasty processed American Cheese over anything my mom made. High school was a little different as it was the first time I had a diverse group of friends, from African-American, White, Korean, Pakistani, Japanese, Filipino, we were like the United Colors of Benetton. That was when I started to embrace being Chinese, but it wasn’t until I went off to college and started traveling that I really appreciated my upbringing to the fullest...crazy family and all.
One of my first big trips while studying abroad in Australia included a few days in Singapore, which also happens to be where most of the film takes place. I loved the cultural melting pot of so many different influences and cultures and had a truly authentic Singaporean experience. (I stayed with family friends). I remembered lots of shopping and eating great food. It took almost two decades for me to return at the end of 2017. United had just started the longest non-stop flight from the US, from Los Angeles to Singapore, it spans 8,700 miles, and lasts over 17 hours. Although lots had changed, Singapore has never lost its charm.
Here are some of the highlights: