Photo credit: @CrazyRichAsians Instagram page

The lack of diversity in Crazy Rich Asians

Singaporeans have mixed views about Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians after seeing its first trailer.

Amanda Wong

Published: 3 May 2018, 12:00 AM

The first trailer for Crazy Rich Asians has sparked several discussions about the lack of representation of Singapore’s ethnic diversity in the upcoming Hollywood movie.

Crazy Rich Asians is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by American author Kevin Kwan, who was born and raised in Singapore.

The first movie trailer has accumulated over 6 million views since its release on Apr 23.

As the movie is set in Singapore, some of the scenes were filmed in prominent landmarks, such as Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

While some Singaporeans celebrated the Hollywood movie, most had mixed views about how Singaporean minority races were absent from the trailer.

What’s going on?

Last April, movie studio Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they will be filming an adaption of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, Crazy Rich Asians. It features three elite Asian families preparing for a wedding in Singapore.

Slated for release on Aug 17, it features Singaporean actors Pierre Png and Fiona Xie, alongside American actress Constance Wu and Singapore-based TV presenter Henry Golding.

Many raved about the Hollywood adaptation at first, with the filmmakers declaring it to be a significant breakthrough for Asians due to its all Asian cast.

However, some viewers felt disappointed with the trailer as it did not feature the various ethnicities in Singapore, and were concerned if the upcoming film would have the same issue.

Polytechnic student Shabita Anabel, 19, said: “Everyone knows that we are a multi-racial society, but I didn’t see any of it in the trailer. I then realised that this film could be something Chinese Americans would be very proud of because it represents them the most.”


Crazy Rich Asians was seen as a step forward in representing minorities in Hollywood, although this seems to be limited to Chinese people.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Twitter


After watching the trailer, Muhammed Musaib, 19, found the lack of ethnic races in the trailer rather “upsetting”.
“With the movie inaccurately representing Singaporeans to be only Chinese, it feeds into the misconception that we may very well be from China,” said the third year polytechnic student.


Singaporean poet and playwright Alfian Sa’at was concerned about the way Asians were represented in the movie.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Facebook


Others felt that the focus should be on the progress Asians have made in Hollywood.

Liyana Batrisyia, 19, said: “I think people should take a chill pill and look at the big picture…the Asian Americans are becoming more prominent and this is a huge step for Asians – to be the stars in a Hollywood film,” said the polytechnic student.

However, a handful felt that the movie need not be an accurate representation of Singapore as it is a “Hollywood produced film that so happens to be set in Singapore”, rather than mainstream local films that tend to feature all four races.


A netizen felt that Hollywood films are not documentaries and need not be “accurate in its representation”.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Facebook


Law student Andy Leow felt that people should differentiate reality from literary works when it comes to movie adaptations.

Andy, 28, said: “There is always going to be never ending nit-picking. It doesn’t always have to be a correct representation of the population – it’s  a movie, a work of fiction, so judge it for what it is.”


What’s your take?
1. Do you think Crazy Rich Asians needs to accurately represent ethnic diversity in Singapore? Why?

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