crazy rich asians asian-american

When American-born Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) meets her boyfriend Nick’s mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) for the first time at their lush Singaporean mansion in Crazy Rich Asians, she enthusiastically lists off her accomplishments: lauded economics professor at NYU, talented, brilliant, probably played piano since elementary school. It’s a check list that any Asian-American parent would beam at, but to which Eleanor only coolly responds, “Pursuing one’s passion…how American.”

This fleeting confrontation toward the beginning of the film perfectly illustrates the divide between Asians and Asian-Americans that both communities still try to navigate today. And surprisingly, Crazy Rich Asians’ conflict between filial piety and passion gets to the heart of the muddled, ill-defined Asian-American identity.

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