Why representation is important

Audrey Safir


With the release of the movie Crazy Rich Asians in August, the subject of representation in the media has come into the spotlight. The film is the first Hollywood blockbuster in over 25 years to feature an all Asian cast and a contemporary Asian-American story, the last being The Joy Luck Club, which was released in 1993. Making over $26 million its opening weekend in August, Crazy Rich Asians exemplifies the importance of representation.
Diversity is often hard to come by in Hollywood. That’s what makes movies like Crazy Rich Asians so influential; they give people an opportunity to see themselves and their cultures represented on the big screen, something that may have never happened before. “When I was growing up, I didn’t see many faces that look like mine or my family’s on screen. And it feels like this is overdue,” said Gemma Chan, who plays Astrid Leong-Teo.”The reason for me why it’s so important is because I feel the representation – or lack thereof – of not just Asians but other minorities in popular culture, in film, on TV, etc directly impacts how these minorities are treated in life, and vice versa. It directly affects whether they are normalised or whether they are other-ised in society.”
Crazy Rich Asians showcases the core of traditional Chinese culture and its values: putting family first and respecting elders, and contrasts it with American ideals. The success of Crazy Rich Asians in the box office just goes to show people’s appreciation for movies representing cultures from around the world. Plans have even been made for a potential sequel, but this is still the first step in reaching complete representation in the media. Star Constance Wu remarked,”I do want to make sure every time I talk about the success that we also pay tribute to the fact that there are other stories that we still haven’t heard, and there are still other people out there who don’t feel seen or understood or recognised, and this whole thing is all for naught if we don’t remember that and we don’t constantly strive to make people feel heard and seen and understood and valued.”