Crazy Hypocritical

I’ve often written that the word Asian is misused, often for calculated political reasons. For instance, in the currently pending lawsuit against Harvard’s admissions affirmative action (AA) policies, the claim is discrimination against Asian-American applicants, yet the anti-AA movement has been mostly Chinese. Indeed, for the most part, Indian- and other South Asian-Americans have been conspicuously absent, in spite of similar demographics. It’s natural that the anti-AA people want the broader “Asian” umbrella, but this example shows that the term can be misleading.

Another interesting example, pointed out in The Economist‘s September 1 issue, is the movie Crazy Rich Asians. Many Asian-American activists, again mainly Chinese, have praised the film for having an “all-Asian” cast. They had complained for years, quite justifiably, that Hollywood has typically portrayed Asians in negative roles, say menial workers. Now, finally, an “Asian” movie is out, and enjoying high box office success.

Well, not quite, says Banyan of The Economist, writing on how some view the film in multi-ethnic Singapore, the setting of the film. The main characters are ethnic Chinese (though the male lead is half Malay, half white). The Economist, not a publication that plays up identity politics, writes:

For plenty of Asians, the film is more of an affront than a triumph…the film ignores all Asians other than the Chinese kind. One-quarter of Singapore’s population is not Chinese but of Malay or Indian descent. Yet when Malays feature, it is as valet-parking attendants, Indonesians as masseuses…Sikh guards [are portrayed as] buffoonish…What passes for victory in Hollywood can look like a glaring failure in Singapore.

Not sure how Banyan got wind of this, but it’s an important point.


8 thoughts on “Crazy Hypocritical

  1. Currently, the most offensive use of the word “Asian” is in the term “Asian grooming gang”. For those of you that don’t follow European events, “grooming gangs” are not radical hairdressers that re-wardrobe fashion faux pax offenders. Instead they are a sex crime phenomenon in the United Kingdom involving thousands of young women held captive in sex slave and prostitution rings.

    The report below found that 84% of ‘grooming gang’ offenders were (South) Asian, while they only make up 7% of the total UK population and that the majority of these offenders are of Pakistani origin. Because of political correctness, the term “Asian” is frequently used with this issue. Some make excuses that not all are Pakistani and a couple white Englishman have been involved. That is true. But the rest are overwhelming from South or Southwest Asian countries with cultures where women have little or no rights.

    Even the YouTube duo, “The Asian Capitalists” have complained about this term. Recommend checking them out if you enjoy political/social commentary mixed with humor:


  2. I find the government definition of “Asian” … confusing. My wife was born and raised on the continent of Asia, her ancestral people once terrorized the majority of the continent as they raided east and west from the central portions of the continent, but as she is a Turk, she is not considered Asian.

    The term “Asian” seems to apply only to those of the “East Coast” of the continent, while those from “Texas” or “California” are not considered Asian.

    But we see something similar with Africa as well, don’t we? I’ve not noticed that Egyptians who have immigrated to the US being considered “African-Americans”.



    When I was in public school (dob 1940) we were taught there were three basic races, white/Caucasian, black/Negro, and yellow/Asian, and that people on Indian Subcontinent were Caucasian.

    Apparently modern genetic statistics verifies the conclusion that people in India are white or that white, North African, and Indian people are in the same general genetic line. Black African people are from a different genetic branch from the prior homo-whatever genetic line.


  4. I thought the Sikh guards were portrayed as being people you don’t mess with; they were not dumb. Would those “crazy, rich Asians” hire anything less than the best? I’m pretty tired of people finding stereotypes hiding behind every bush. Or on every dark, dead-end road in Singapore.

    I enjoyed the movie.

    To your point, using “Asian” to describe ethnic Indians and ethnic Chinese together is a great disservice. My family spent the last 14 years in a high-tech bedroom community that was approximately 1/3 ethnic Chinese, 1/3 ethnic Indian, and 1/3 other. Two observations,

    1. The Chinese and the Indians are suspicious of each other,
    2. The Indians are suspicious of Indians who are of the wrong caste or who came from the wrong side of the Indian railroad tracks.

    Okay, a third observation: the Chinese, Koreans, Taiwanese, and Japanese are all pretty suspicious of each other.


    • Asians are suspicious of each other because their home countries are like my ancestral homeland Yugoslavia (I’m half Croatian) . A Dutch general described the problems there in the 1990s as:

      “Every group has been the victim of a mini-Holocaust and every group has perpetrated a mini-Holocaust”.

      We’re all saints and sinners.

      Incidentally, I once met a guy that was half Croatian and half Serbian. I asked him if he fought with himself and if so, who wins?


  5. Fresh Off the Boat is set to premiere on October 5 for a fifth season. According to Wikipedia, “It is the first American television sitcom starring an Asian-American family to air on American network primetime since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl, which aired for one season in 1994.”

    There is actor of Korean heritage and the sitcom was created by someone whose parents came to the US from Iran.

    Fresh Off The Boat is covered in Chinese-language news media, where the title is literally “Beginner New Immigrants” (from Wikipedia).

    Another show, Dr Ken, received very negative reviews and was canceled after two seasons.


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