The Hollywood romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians is being greeted with unease in Singapore, where the tale of glamour and excess is set.
As the only major Hollywood film to feature an all-East Asian cast in 25 years since 1993’s the Joy Luck Club, it has been hailed as a sign that Asian-Americans will no longer be ignored by the movie industry.
The film has a successful first weekend earning an estimated US$22 million from 3,384 North American cinemas.
The director, Jon Chu, called it “more than just a movie, it’s a movement.”
It is due to premiere in Singapore on Wednesday and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has worked with the US public relations companies Edelman and Bullfrog & Baum to promise “a real first-hand, crazy insight into the best, rich travel experiences in the Lion City”.
Fiona Xie, who plays Kitty Pong, was billed as the cast member who could help publicise Singapore’s art, culture and craft cocktail scenes. She promoted Singapore’s National Gallery, the Newton Circus, and its “magical technicolour Avatar-like gardens By the bay”.
The STB promoted other cast members to showcase Singapore’s street food and fashion scenes.
But some Singaporean residents appear more sceptical about how their home is being portrayed to the world.
Based on a novel by Singaporean author Kevin Kwan, it centres around a Chinese-American economics scholar who flies to Singapore to attend a wedding with her boyfriend, only to find out that he comes from one of the Lion City’s wealthiest families.
The trailer was criticised for its lack of Singlish patois and Singaporean cast members said that they wished they had been able to speak more Singlish.
“When we watch American movies, I know what they sound like in America … But I just wish that somebody else watching us somewhere else would know our lingo and our slang words as well,” actress Selena Tan told the media.
Around 76 per cent of the Singaporean population is ethnic Chinese, 15 per cent ethnic Malay and 6.6 per cent Indian but city-state apparently appears mono-ethnic in the movie.
“In its representation of Singapore, I definitely had to constantly remind myself of the context in which this film was made – for Asian-Americans in America looking onto Singapore,” said Singaporean actor Shrey Bhargava. “I did yearn to see more minority Singaporeans in the film and Singapore’s multicultural diversity to be celebrated, especially given that [it] was marketed as a win for representation.”
A still from Crazy Rich Asians. Picture credit: YouTube