Happy August! Now that it has been nearly a year since the release of
Crazy Rich Asians, the first major Hollywood movie in years to have a majority Asian cast, we are reflecting on how the portrayal of Asian Americans in popular media has evolved over the years. Though imperfect,
Crazy Rich Asians -- and now
Always Be My Maybe,
The Farewell, and
To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and
Searching among others -- are welcome counterpoints to Hollywood's history of portraying Asians as caricatures, punchlines, or villains. They offer glimpses into the stories of Asian Americans from different, more authentic, walks of life: from a confused but determined single father, to a working class musician rekindling romance with a celebrity chef from a Vietnamese refugee family, and to wealthy Singaporean immigrants.
Each Asian American, as all Americans, has grappled with the question of where (not if) they fit into this country's fabric. As Asians form one of the most diverse racial categories in the US, there is no one answer, and it is promising that the media and popular culture are beginning to recognize this. Undoubtedly there is still room for improvement -- 'brown' Asians, low-income Asians, queer Asians, Pacific Islanders (the list goes on) still have not received representation in meaningful ways -- but we are optimistic about the progress and look forward to further change.