Rhea Wong Consulting



5 Lessons from Crazy Rich Asians

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  Crazy Rich Asians is coming out in theatres soon and I am PUMPED!  Asian representation on the big screen and the only all-Asian cast since the Joy Luck Club?  Yes prease!

Imma get my Asian homegirls rounded up and we're gonna buy out the theatre to show Hollywood that there is money in catering to Asian audiences.  I'm also superpsyched to see Asian people on screen who are not the geeky Long Duck Dong character or the ninja assassin or the dragon-lady China doll.

Anyway, for those of you who have been living under a rock, Crazy Rich Asians are--surprise!--about Crazy Rich Asians in Singapore and Hong Kong who live fabulous jet-setting designer-wearing lifestyles.  It's not just the lifestyles of the rich and famous--it's lifestyles of the obscenely, conspicuously wealthy.  I mean, people, there are private islands and masseuses on private jets en route to shopping sprees in Paris.

Though I'm not a fancy enough Asian to catch most of the designer names that author Kevin Kwan drops like it's hot, here are some takeaways for this sometimes-crazy non-rich Asian.

Money can't buy you class.

In a similar tradition of Edith Wharton or F. Scott Fitzgerald, we are brought into a world of wealth that Kevin Kwan both enjoys and skewers.  Truly, very few of the characters really come out well here and the message is that all the money in the world can't make you happy or a nicer person.  I mean, I would love the opportunity to find out and I wouldn't let gobs of money go to my head or change me, but you know I mean OTHER PEOPLE, right?  There are so many parts of the book dedicated to comparing and measuring one's wealth against other people and they all seem to be shallow and miserable.  So, the lesson here is be thankful you are not obscenely wealthy.  Now, isn't that better?

Food is love

Do you know any Asian person who is not totally obsessed with food?  We photograph it.  We discuss it.  We analyze it.  We plan whole vacations around it.  We talk about our next meal while we are eating a meal.There's probably some very deep stuff here about food being a substitute for love and approval and the great void we feel in our Asian souls because we don't go in for that white people stuff like hugs and saying "I love you."  What we say is, "Have more rice.  Did you eat enough?"  Well, if that's love, then, baby, load me up!  Enjoy all of the long and sexy descriptions of food throughout the books and movie.  Which reminds me that I need to smuggle in snacks to the movie (I am both prepared and frugal--also you know these theatres aren't going to have snacks like dried squid and wasabi peas.  Bish please.)

Handle your money

There is a wonderful scene in which all of the aunties dive for their phones to place trades with their brokers on the heels of a hot stock tip.  Let this be a lesson for my ladies--manage your money.  Understand the stock market and build a portfolio.  I've just started actively trading in addition to my 401K accounts and it's been immensely satisfying to buy stock in companies I love.  You don't need to take on massive risk or day trade, but you must create a long-term strategy to build wealth.  I know that you're planning on winning the lottery and/or cashing in on that inheritance from a distant, anonymous relative, but still....have a plan, why don't you?

Fine Asian brothers

I'm really sick of all my Asian brothers being relegated to dork status.  There are some fine Asian men out there, ladies, and it's about time they get some of the limelight.  As Ali Wong said, "It's like sleeping with a dolphin!"  Anyway, feast your eyes on this while I take some Executive Time.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Box Office

I think there is this persistent and unfounded myth about the "hidden" Asian.  It persists in politics, in education, and in mainstream media.  With the release of this movie and the messages going out over the Secret Asian Phone Lines to blow this mother up, I hope that it will make Hollywood and mainstream America wake up and smell the tea.  First, it's good business to  niche down and cater to a specific audience with significant buying power.  Secondly, don't give me some white-wash version of Asian roles because you think it'll be more commercially viable.  Which means that imma need Matt, Scarlett, Tilda and Emma to take a seat here.So, my people, run and get tickets for Monday.  Buy them for your Asian friends.  Buy them for your non-Asian friends.  Buy them for your mama, your grandma and your second grade teacher.  Make it count at the box office and smuggle in a bubble tea for me, will ya?