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SOMETHING'S MISSING

The trailer for “Crazy Rich Asians” has some asking: Where are the brown faces?

crazy rich asians trailer
Screenshot
Groundbreaking.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

Now that the trailer for Crazy Rich Asians has finally dropped, it seems to all but confirm that the movie won’t be as diverse as many Asians had hoped.

While the film, an adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel by the same name, largely takes place in Singapore, some have pointed out that it doesn’t feel very Singaporean, and that it appears to only show ethnic Chinese people, who make up a portion of the city-state’s population. The lack of South Asians or anyone with dark skin has the internet suggesting new names for the movie: Crazy Rich East Asians and Crazy Rich East Light-Skinned Asians.

For starters, the hallmark Singaporean accent is missing throughout the two-and-a-half-minute trailer.

And then, there’s the issue of diversity. Singapore prides itself on being a multicultural society, with ethnic Chinese making up 74% of the population, Malays 15%, and Indians 7.4%. But keen-eyed observers have found only a few brown faces in the trailer—and those appear to be actors playing servants.

Alfian Sa’at, a Singaporean playwright and poet, shared a screenshot of the trailer on Facebook where two men with dark skin—who he calls “brown backdrop people”—are seen opening a car’s doors. He asks: “Does a win for representation mean replacing white people with white people wannabes—the nouveau white?”

The film’s lack of diversity—which follows the demographics represented in the book it was based upon—was apparent to many others as well, with one commentator asking an uncomfortable question on Twitter on behalf of South Asians and Southeast Asians: “Are we not Asian?”

Even before this trailer was released, the movie was generating controversy when it cast Henry Golding, a half-white, half-Asian actor, as the male lead. Some people felt the decision sent a clear message that Asian actors were not attractive enough to be a romantic lead in a Hollywood film.

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