'Crazy Rich Asians' depicts only a slice of life in Singapore — and it does a huge injustice to the actual people who live there

Business Insider | 8/25/2018 | Foreign Policy
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As the first Hollywood film in a quarter of a century to feature an all-East Asian cast, Crazy Rich Asians has been heralded as a watershed moment for representation and diversity.

In a country where elderly people still collect cardboard on the streets to scrape together a few dollars, Crazy Rich Asians fails to depict the socio-economic condition of many living in Singapore.

Film - Housing - Estates - % - Country

The film also fails to feature the public housing estates in which 80% of the country's resident population live.

The film's producers, while well-versed in American racial politics and white dominance, failed to realize that in the Singaporean context of power and privilege, Chinese Singaporeans are the "white people" here.

Month - Singaporean - Prime - Minister - Goh

Earlier this month, former Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was asked by a 70-year-old resident if the government could cut its lawmakers' sky-high pay to fund pensions for the elderly.

Goh's response was the same one that Singapore has always trotted out to explain its generous salaries: Cutting ministers' pay would be "populist" and a bad move, because it would be hard to persuade high-flyers in the private sector to give up their top-dollar jobs to get into politics. "You are going to end up with very, very mediocre people, who can't even earn a million dollars outside to be our minister," he said.

Logic - Characters - Crazy - Rich - Asians

If we adopt this logic, then the characters of Crazy Rich Asians must be the cream of the crop in Singapore. They are, after all, crazy rich. That's the only Singapore we get to see on screen — and it's a sign of the direction Hollywood is taking its depiction of Asia.

Crazy Rich Asians only depicts a very select population of Singapore. Warner Bros.

Crazy - Rich - Asians - Novel - Author

Crazy Rich Asians, based on the novel by Singaporean-American author Kevin Kwan, premiered in Los Angeles to enormous fanfare. The film, which opened in Singapore...
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