Singaporean Critics Ask Who ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Really Represents

By Sameer Rao Aug 13, 2018

Much of the praise surrounding "Crazy Rich Asians," which opens in theaters on Wednesday (August 15), concerns how Asians in the United States and beyond will get to see themselves represented in the cast of a major Hollywood romantic comedy. A new report from The Associated Press juxtaposes this enthusiasm with a critique that the film’s focus on a Chinese-American woman’s experiences with Singapore’s predominantly Chinese economic elite excludes the city-state’s marginalized Asians.

"This movie is going global, and the idea of Singapore is that we don’t exist in it," Sangeetha Thanapal says. The anti-racist activist hails from Singapore’s Indian community, which she lists among the country’s Asian groups that not explicitly featured in the film’s depiction of the largely Chinese-descended country—and that are discriminated against in Singapore.

“Yes, it is a win for representation. In America,” writer Kirsten Han adds. “The lack of ethnic minorities, who do make up a significant part of the population, is just the same kind of Chinese-majority dominance that we would see in any other media in Singapore.”

"Crazy Rich Asians" star Constance Wu partially addressed these critiques via a tweet in late July:


…for those of you that don’t feel seen [by the film], I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have a story.

*Article has been updated to reflect that Sangeetha Thanapal is an anti-racist activist.