18 Crazy Rich Asians
⚠️ There are spoilers for the movie Crazy Rich Asians in this episode.
Three missing things!
...argh! We forgot to mention some stuff while we were recording, so here ya go, in text form...
1. Saving Face
Can't believe we forgot to mention this movie! Like Crazy Rich Asians, the main characters in Saving Face are Asian...but two of the main characters are...a lesbian couple (!) Saving Face came out in 2004 and we were delighted with it: an indie film with heart, smarts and humor, starring Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec, and Lynn Chen. (Saving Face is on available on iTunes and Amazon)
2. Surprised by the music in Crazy Rich Asians
I guess we didn't expect even the music in Crazy Rich Asians to be so Asian, too. American and Western in style: jazz, pop, singer-songwriter. But sung in Chinese. For example, Madonna's "Material Girl." (!)
3. ominous opening statement, for a comedy
Here's the quote that opens the movie:
“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” – Napoleon
This quote seems to acknowledge the self-consciousness that the movie has about itself.
Which we can relate to, as you'll see below.
Here are brief notes on some (not all) of what we did remember to discuss in this episode:
We noticed our own self-consciousness about being Asian
Ironically, when we're surrounded by white, Western faces in the media (otherwise known as "normal life" as an Asian-American) we aren't so aware of our Asian-ness.
In that normal situation, we feel like we blend in more (though, not totally of course) ...compared to when we're watching an "Asian-American" movie.
Is that weird?
It's like being Asian is not a thing...until you go see an "Asian movie."
We felt Not Asian enough
Every character in this movie was bi-lingual.
Unless you count Hawaiian Pidgin English. (Which you probably should, since it's an actual language, though it doesn't have an official standardized spelling.)
Both of us are 4th generation Asian-Americans.
Our ancestors wanted us to assimilate, fit in, become "more American."
So we grew up speaking only English.
When confronted with Asian culture, we're very conscious of being not very good or very complete Asians.
Ancestors' mission accomplished!
Because we can't even understand the mother tongue, much less speak it.
I wonder if 4th generation Italian-Americans feel inadequate in their Italian-ness, if they're not able to speak Italian, for instance.
We also felt Not American enough
Because even though you might be able to erase the Asian language from your family...
you can’t erase your face.
We're grateful that our current politics and culture is discussing up front and out loud, what Being American means.
And we love that Being American is about
- sharing values and ideals about self-governance
- building communities that support the better angels of our nature, and
- struggling together to be, and to see, a more perfect union among humanity
Tribalism is human
In the effort to establish our identities and feel safe and protected, there's a tendency to set up an "us" vs. "them" kind of situation.
We want to feel like we're part of an in group.
Which means others must be the out group.
It can feel good, in a way, to have a certainty about "being in," and keeping others out.
Rising above tribalism is also human
It can also feel good to expand the circle of belonging to more people.
Being human hurts
Even if you're rich, really really good looking, and smart, and strong on the inside...
Being human still hurts.
You can't get away from that.
The beauty of life comes from hurting together.
Empathy, compassion, holding space for one another.
We are relational beings who thrive in community.
We can give others a sense of belonging
Everybody wants to belong, to be in the "in" group.
It's part of our evolutionary make-up; part of our survival-of-the-fittest instinct.
This means we have the power to give a lifeline to others.
We can offer a sense of belonging to another person.
It also means that we're vulnerable: to feeling left out, or feeling judged and ostracized.
Cultivate your own sense of belonging
Be a an engaged part of a group, a community.
And, give yourself the solitude to connect with a sense of belonging to yourself and to God, however you define it.
To feel valued
Not because of anything you may produce, or make, or do.
But because of who you already are.
That's what we wish for you.
I'm not leaving because I'm scared, or because I think I'm not enough – because maybe for the first time in my life, I know I am.
- Rachel Chu (main character in Crazy Rich Asians)