It was announced yesterday that Crazy Rich Asians, the movie, will be released next summer, on August 17, 2018. The movie is based on the first book in Kevin Kwan’s series. Constance Wu leads an all-Asian cast in a story about obscenely wealthy Asians and their petty ass family dramas. But Crazy Rich Asians is also about Asian identity, a representation of how varied Asian identity can be – from a young academic born in America to an all-access socialite living in London to a real estate agent based in Singapore to an old matriarch practising traditional cultural customs with her own secrets and personal vendettas.
Back in June, Daniel Bell, a dean at China’s Shandong University, wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Why Anyone Can Be Chinese. Daniel is white. And he lives in China. And he insists he knows Chinese culture better than many Chinese. Which is why he wants to be able to identify as Chinese. It was subsequently pointed out to him why he might need to rethink his position. One of the many privileges of whiteness in art has been that it is generally accepted that whiteness can be anything. A white character can be a miner or a doctor and a mother and a lawyer or a poet or an orchestra conductor or a taxi driver – there are options. As many people of colour will tell you, those options, in the past – and probably still – are limited for those who aren’t white. Asian actors often tell stories about the roles they’re offered: nerds, gangsters, prostitutes, the doctor with the clipboard who tells the main characters what happened in surgery. The difference between Daniel Bell and a Chinese person is that he can walk into a room and most people won’t assume what he is, where he’s from, what he does. A Chinese person walks into a room and immediately their geographical origin is narrowed down to a certain region in the world. And from there, the boundaries about who they get to be become tighter and tighter and tighter. What’s exciting about a movie like Crazy Rich Asians is that we’ll see Asians expanding those boundaries of identity.
Now about that August 17th release date – as we’ve seen over recent years, August is no longer, necessarily, the month where movies go to die. I like this August opening for Crazy Rich Asians. And I really like this specific August date for Crazy Rich Asians.
August is the 8th month of the year. 8 is luckiest number in Chinese culture. Because phonetically, the word for “8” sounds like the word for “rich”. Break it down even further though. The movie will be released in the 8th month on the 17th day. 17 is 1 + 7 = 8. And then the year… 2018.
18. Phonetically the word for “18” sounds like the expression “will be rich”. This release date has rich 8s all over it!
I wonder if they consulted a feng shui master to set this opening.
Oh and one more thing? You know what other movie came out on August 17 thirty years ago?
Yours in gossip,