So recently I exchanged life in a big city for life in a regional centre. From multicultural, diverse Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, which is about as white and European as one would expect outside the capital cities. How white is it?
This is how some prominent Asian Australians felt after watching Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood film to feature a predominantly Asian cast in 25 years. The glitzy romantic comedy, based on Kevin Kwan's bestselling books, has smashed the box office and is currently the number one film in the US. In aftermath of the OscarsSoWhite campaign, which focused attention on the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood, it's not surprising Crazy Rich Asians is causing a buzz amongst Asian communities all around the world, including here in Australia.
It may have just opened in Australian cinemas yesterday, but judging by the buzz and box office success of Crazy Rich Asians in the United States, Australia is set to fall in love with the rom-com too. Without giving too much of the plot away, the film follows American-born Chinese Rachel as she visits Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young and discovers his family is both richer than god… and in a completely different social milieu than she first thought. Unlike so many Hollywood movies that are filmed on a set in Los Angeles, Crazy Rich Asians was actually mostly filmed on location — to stunning effect.
A recent episode of an Australian dating show featured an Asian man and it was quite refreshing to watch. However, it did not take long for internalized racism by some contestants to raise its ugly self-hating head and ruin an otherwise entertaining program. Those who dislike the contestant can simply turn the light off. Enter bachelor George, an adventurous vlogger from Sydney who was hoping to find a woman who he can take along on his trips around the world.
They started joking about their own experiences: the struggles and joys of being a first-generation immigrant. The concept was simple: Share jokes about the traits, subtle or otherwise, that characterized the Asian-Australian experience, from cultural clashes with parents and the sanctity of bubble milk tea, to the groan-worthy pickup lines from white men on dating apps. Are you from Asia?
I had huge expectations for so many reasons. This was the break through contemporary Hollywood movie, to feature an all Asian cast. The world declared it a monumental moment for Asian representation in the west.
When I was in my second year of university, a stranger approached a friend and me on the streets of Melbourne, asking to photograph us for his website about interracial couples. A little taken aback, we told him we weren't together but had friends that might fit the bill. He went on to explain that many of his friends were Asian men who thought Anglo-Australian women just weren't interested in dating them.
Welcome to Year13! Want to see your pretty face up here? Log in and update your profile and save all your Year13 faves. But the undeniable truth of it is race is a very real thing in this day and age.
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Some of my Anglo Australian friends keep asking me how I find Australia. I know what they want me to say — that's it's a fabulous country that offers a Fair Go for all, and a true melting pot of different cultures. And, with 19 per cent of Sydney's population today of Asian descent, and 18 per cent of Melbourne's, life for me as a woman with a Vietnamese background really shouldn't be much different to anyone else's. Everyone knows, you see, that Asians are either trying to smuggle food or drugs into the country or causing trouble by swimming when they don't actually know how.