Friday, August 3, 2018
Crazy Rich Asians is being celebrated as the first-in-a-generation film for Chinese-Americans, Chinese-Australians… pretty much every Chinese person who is living anywhere other than China – the Bananas, the FOBs, the conquered and the assimilated. We’re united in our love, but curiously not our understanding.
Ask around, and you’ll discover that some of us understand the Cantonese words, and some of us don’t. Some of us grew up with the dumpling-making sessions, many of us missed out. Some of us know the words to the songs, but it was alien to the rest of us.
And that game of mahjong at the end? To some of us, it was just white noise. To the rest of us, we could see that Constance Wu kept the front doors clean, that she kept to one colour, she drew her own winner, and we gasped when we realised what she was going to say long before she even said it. If you appreciate mahjong, you’ll know that scene had more depth and complexity than the poker game in Casino Royale.
The thing to learn here is that culture is a spectrum with many different grades. We’re all sitting at different places. Some of us lean more heavily to our Asian side, some of us towards our Western side. It’s evolving. It’s fluid.
That brings me to the people who insist multiculturalism isn’t possible. It’s a lie; a fallacy that comes from thinking about multiculturalism in binary terms. It’s not about which culture you identify with, whether you’ve assimilated, or where your allegiances lay.
We can be all of them – because culture is fluid.