Crazy Rich Asians opened this past weekend and took in over $25 million over three days, easily placing it in the number one spot. According to the New York Times, it was the biggest opening weekend for any PG-13 romantic comedy in six years (since Think Like A Man, which featured a primarily black cast).
Kimberly Yam, HuffPost’s Asian Voices editor, tweeted a thread perfectly encapsulating why representation matters in American movies. The thread clearly resonated with tens of thousands of people, and quickly went viral.
Her tweets tell the story of how, growing up, her classmates’ mockery of her culture made her ashamed of being Chinese.
She wrote about seeing stereotypes of her culture (not just Chinese, but Asian in general) show up as Halloween costumes on kids in high school, and how that made her feel.
It wasn’t until she went to college at 17 and met other Asian people that she began to feel proud of who she was.
She spent several years refamiliarizing herself with her family’s culture and even got a tattoo of her family name.
She ends the thread with the release of Crazy Rich Asians, writing, “You’ve never seen a cast like this in Hollywood. Everyone is beautiful. You’re so happy you’re Chinese.”
The United States is far from all white, but so many of the movies and TV shows here would make you think otherwise. Kids (and adults!) of color need to see representations of themselves on screens big and small so they know they matter. White people need to see representations of other races so we realize we’re not the only ones who count in this country. The more frequently we see black and Asian people on screen and in magazines, the more we realize that we are a country made up of many different people.
People on Twitter wrote back to Yam, telling her just how much her words meant to them.
Others tweeted using the hashtag #representationmatters.
But not everyone was impressed with the depiction of Asians in the movie. At least one person tweeted about how South Asians were shown in Crazy Rich Asians.
While the stuff about the South Asians doesn’t sound good, it’s wonderful to see that people of color are getting to be the stars of Hollywood movies. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen much, much sooner.