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For many Asian Americans, Crazy Rich Asians feels monumental in the same vein as Black Panther was for black people in America because it’s been 25 years since an all Asian cast has donned the silver screen in the Joy Luck Club.

Much like BP, many hope that CRA will exceed expectations at the box office because this will be the benchmark that other Asian American films will be compared to. However, to a much larger degree, this film may be used to argue whether or not other POC driven stories are worth making.

There have been numerous quality POC films made independently from “Real Women Have Curves” to “Fruitvale Station,” but Hollywood has largely shied away from investing in POC films unless they were framed in stereotypical fashion. Historically, black people have been portrayed in films as violent criminals in dramas, while Asian people have been relegated to martial arts roles in action flicks.

It must be acknowledged that CRA and BP stand on the shoulders of all the great POC films that preceded it, including POC indie films that have mainly slipped under the radar. But much like how Love, Simon wasn’t necessarily about being the first gay teen coming-of-age film, CRA isn’t concerned about being the first Asian American film. It’s about being acknowledged and represented in mainstream media.
On paper, a black superhero film and an Asian American rom-com don’t seem very revolutionary. Yet, here we are. BP has subverted criminal stereotypes and presented a hero of color and an antagonist that the audience empathizes with. CRA subverts the flashy kung fu master or timid accountant and supplants it with a couple going on a trip together.

In an era where the superheroes are the norm and remakes have taken precedence in many studios, Hollywood has abandoned mid-budget genres such as adult drama, comedy, and romance.

And this is where CRA can continue to open up paths for other POC films, not just by representation, but in genre revival.

Much like the hilarious and successful Girls Trip, CRA isn’t doing anything new in terms of rom-coms, but because of its diverse cast with a specific story and place, it feels fresh. However, the line between fresh and foreign seem to coincide rather closely in POC driven stories. A difficult white mother may be characterized as having a harsh personality, while a difficult POC mother can be stereotyped as being the typical POC mother.
One of the reasons for this kind of stereotyping goes back to why BP and CRA are so important: the lack of all kinds of representation in film.

The hope is that CRA will be profitable enough to spark demand for more Asian American films and other POC movies in all types of genres. And box office projections are indicating that it will be.

But what will happen when the inevitable happens. When a Hollywood POC movie reaches or exceeds expectations in quality, but not necessarily profitability? Will studios pull the plug? Will we get another chance?
I don’t know, but I do know that it is important we continue to support these films.

My hope is that CRA will live up to its name at the box office, but the greater hope is that Hollywood will green light POC movies not just because of its potential for return, but because we’re people too.

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