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Title: Modeling Minorities and Model Majorities: Picturing Neoliberal Commodities in the film Crazy Rich Asians
Authors: Liu, Kai
Advisors: Nadal, Paul
Huang, Erin
Prichard, Franz
Department: East Asian Studies
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: The simple yet omnipresent question this thesis explores is, why are “Asians”, specifically the Chinese diaspora, aligned with wealth? The recent movie adaptation that premiered in August 2018 of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 fictional novel Crazy Rich Asians is based on his personal experience as a member of the elite class of rich Chinese Singaporeans. Kwan’s work signifies the growing perception of a palatial cosmopolitan “Asia” within a transgenerational and transnational network of wealthy, ethnically Chinese Singaporeans, people who command not just immense amounts of disposable income but also transnational social capital. The novel and film’s popularity and reactions amongst Asian-Americans indicate the demand for such an image: East Asians flaunting hordes of wealth and occupying an aristocratic social class. The production of the film Crazy Rich Asians (from this point onwards, “CRA”) argues a celebration for a life of excess and elitism for the Chinese-Singaporean. Such depictions of grandiose lifestyles, heteronormative romance, and the classic Asian trope of intergenerational conflict resonates immensely with the Asian-American population. This thesis attempts to make-legible concepts and theories like neoliberalism, “Asia”, “Asian-America” through contemporary examples that engage with and attempt to illustrate these terms. By looking at a film that is far reaching in the United States and in some Asian countries, we can unpack dominant ideologies of Asian-Americans. From there, we can undo the socialization of American capitalist logics we recognize motivates our own lives and apply it to our politics.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:East Asian Studies, 1951-2022

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