The Lost Generation Of Asian TV: From ‘ The Joy Luck Club ’ To ‘ Crazy Rich Asians ’
An entire generation in the US missed out on seeing Asian American families represented in film and television.
The ″ The Joy Luck Club ” came out in the movie theaters in 1993. Wayne Wang’s film, based on Amy Tan’s novel was monumental for those of Asian ancestry. Though plenty of Asian shows were abound elsewhere but not in the American culture. There had never been a Hollywood film featuring Asian American families before “ The Joy Luck Club ”. For the first time, Asian women saw themselves on screen and completely related to them. As in Waverly (played by Tamlyn Tomita) grappling with her mother’s high expectations. So many Asian daughters could relate to the powerful emotional moment from the scene when Waverly says to her mom (played by Tsai Chin), “You don’t know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look…because nothing I do can ever, ever please you.”
Fast forward to 2017. “ Crazy Rich Asians, ” directed by Jon M. Chu, completed filming this week. Based on the best-selling book by Kevin Kwan, the film has an all-Asian international cast featuring actors Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh. It took 23 years for a major Hollywood studio to greenlight another film featuring Asian families led by Asian women, despite “The Joy Luck Club” being a moderate box office success in the domestic box office. What’s really striking is that the same thing happened on network television. Twenty years separated Asian American family sitcoms “All-American Girl” (1994) and “Fresh off the Boat” (2015 to now), both with strong female leads. Independent films like “Saving Face” (2004) and “Advantageous” (2015) along with foreign films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) featured East Asian mothers and daughters, and one studio film, “The Namesake” (2006), featured an Indian-American family but such films were still far and few between for U.S. audiences.
Asians are the fastest growing racial group in the United States and the fastest growing voting block but they continue to be whitewashed in Hollywood films. Furthermore, current research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in television reveals that despite increased representation, AAPIs are missing from 70 percent of all shows. With the recent cancellation of “Dr. Ken”, the only remaining Asian American family-sitcoms remaining on television is ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and Disney’s “Andi Mack.” Asian Americans have taken to social media to protest their underrepresentation, using hashtags like #WhiteWashedOut. Given that Constance Wu is now the star of “ Crazy Rich Asians, ” there is hope. More hope that there will be strong support for this film and clamor for more Asian American representations to prevent future lost generations of not seeing themselves represented on the big screen and television.
I Believe The New Generation Of Asian Actors Will Start The Trend Of More Movie and TV Projects
Susan Z’s Conclusion:
Hollywood is not and probably never will be politically correct when it comes to non-white roles whether Asian, African-American, Latino or other ethnic actors. The bottom line will always be what draws the audience in and makes them a profit but a few steps forward is better than none.
Five of Swords:
This card is a one I call the wuss card and being taken advantage of. This sort of says it all of how Asian actors feel about their opportunities in Hollywood.
Ace of Cups:
This card is gaining one’s heart desire. This film is definitely a step in the right direction for the Asian acting community.
The Lovers: Inverted (Upside Down)
This card is about a loving relationship. Since pulled inverted, I believe it represents how Asian actors and actresses feel about their craft, love what they do but sometimes hate the compromises they must make in a white washed Hollywood industry.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.