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The Joy Of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Is About More Than Just Racial Representation

Culture
Photo Via Warner Brothers.

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is in theaters August 15

The premise of Crazy Rich Asians wouldn't feel out of place in a Jane Austen novel. A young, Chinese-American economics professor from a working-class background is plucked out of her NYU lecture hall and whisked off by her Ken Doll boyfriend to meet his absurdly wealthy family in Singapore, and is subsequently immersed in a world of opulence, label fetishism, and Trump Tower-inspired bathrooms. But beneath the familiar premise is one that is rarely ever seen in American popular culture, one that addresses a dilemma well-known to the children of Asian immigrants, namely, the cost of straddling the divide between old and new worlds.

Aside from the headline-grabbing assertion that its very existence is a long overdue win for Asian representation in Hollywood (which, no shit), Crazy Rich Asians is notable due to its focus on a much-overlooked part of the East Asian diasporic experience: the curious way that traditional Confucian values butt heads with Western-instilled ideals of individualism and independence. And so, while this classic fish-out-water story is set in the exclusive Singaporean milieu of Asia’s notoriously flashy nouveau riche, it is one that any second-generation Asian will recognize.  

Within Crazy Rich Asians, this push-and-pull is probably best evidenced by the clash between Rachel Chu and Eleanor Young. The otherwise even-keeled Rachel—played by the equally unflappable Constance Wu—struggles to find her place amongst her boyfriend Nick Young’s (played by newcomer Henry Golding) unfathomably wealthy family of real estate developers. Meanwhile, Nick’s mother, Eleanor (a role flawlessly carried out by screen legend Michelle Yeoh), is on a mission to make sure that American Rachel, a woman of strong-willed self-determination and a career-oriented mindset, does not rub off on her son. 

And while a Westerner's automatic reaction would be to chalk up Eleanor’s derision toward Rachel to her classist attitudes and adherence to what are seen as "traditional Asian values," we learn that the underlying social dynamics behind Eleanor's reaction toward Rachel are a lot more complicated than they may initially appear. As with any mother, all Eleanor wants for Nick is happiness, and to many Asians, bred on staunch, family-oriented Confucian values, the promotion of the family's interests is the primary source of that. To respect one’s elders, to obey your parents, to unquestioningly carry on your family’s legacy, to eschew "selfish" decisions—these are all ideals that also carry a spiritual connotation, because familial relationships are seen as a “manifestation of the sacred.” The idea that your parents know best is practically mandated by the universe, so what's the easiest way to sabotage your own eventual happiness? Openly defy what your parents think is the right thing to do and, in turn, reject what is deemed best for your family as a whole in order to chase something you think you want. 

Over the past few decades, though, the rise of capitalist globalization (and its individualist tendencies) has completely upended Confucian tradition for many Asians, particularly those who’ve immigrated to Western countries. Now, “happiness” based upon familial ties is not as prioritized, and its existence is fraught, leading to inter-family relationships speckled by guilt and, in some cases, resentment. Thus, the young Asian-American experience is an especially polarized one; admittedly, as a second-generation Asian-American, I have a very specific experience of this, but have intimate knowledge of what it is like to grow up with relatively conservative, Confucian-influenced values while being immersed in American culture and its emphasis on the notions of individuality and autonomy. 

In an era of feminist rhetoric, this divide becomes even more fraught, as the things Rachel has grown to value as an American woman—her career, her independence, her ability to provide for herself—are things that tend to be interpreted as "selfish" within more traditionally minded Asian women. As a dutiful daughter, your primary responsibility is to maintain the home, to be the glue that holds the entire family structure together. And while this (frankly, sexist) idea isn't necessarily unique to Confucian-influenced cultures, it's undeniable that the Enlightenment-rooted philosophies of self-determination and individuality have changed the way East and West approach ideas of responsibility, especially when it comes to the role of women. To Asians, attempts to change course from what has proven to work over time—especially when jeopardizing something as important as the stability of your entire family—is so selfish, it almost comes off as callous. And as Eleanor herself points out over a family dumpling-making session, after her marriage to Nick's father, she gave up her own law career in order to prioritize her new family. So to think that Rachel has other ambitions is almost too irresponsible and self-involved to bear. 

Popular culture's consistent promotion of the "American dream” and individuality is so taken for granted by most of us that when it is pushed back against, as it is with the character of Eleanor, it feels truly revolutionary. But it's a familiar clash to countless young Asian-Americans, who know what it is to be made to feel “selfish” whenever they’re faced with choices that may not align with the harmonious order their family may believe is the path to happiness. And perhaps this is why so many young Asian-Americans, including me, have gravitated toward Crazy Rich Asians. It's not just about the representation, but it is also thanks to the fact that we finally have a movie that adequately depicts the highly familiar push-and-pull between our worlds, the old and the new. It’s a dynamic that’s often difficult to explain to our peers and colleagues, but it’s a very real thing, and now it's finally being portrayed on the big screen, in a blockbuster movie, for all to see—but most of all, for us to see. As I told my brother over the phone through tears, on my way out of the screening, “You’ll know exactly why this is the only movie you’ll have to see this year.”

Crazy Rich Asians is in theaters August 15.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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