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Brown Asians and Black people should not be asked to support a movie that does not support them.

By Sangeetha Thanapal [This piece is the second in a two-part critique of race in "Crazy Rich Asians", you can read the first one here.] Many are lauding “Crazy Rich Asians” as a step in the right direction for the representation of Asians in Hollywood. Some have even gone so far as to call it the “Asian ‘Black Panther’”, and its setting, Singapore, the “Chinese Wakanda.” The truth is that the movie is actually far from being a win for representation, largely because it perpetuates existing racist dynamics in Singapore. It simply is not the “Great Asian Hope” that it is being portrayed as. While it is being billed as an Asian movie, it is made up almost entirely of East Asians. The few Brown people featured in it are seen in service positions to the glamorous and wealthy Chinese characters. The dominance of East Asia in the worldwide imagination of who constitutes the idea of Asia is troubling, especially since Brown Asians make up a sizeable portion of the continent. The tendency to equate East Asia with all Asians wipes out the many differences between us. An East Asian-Brown Asian divide exists specifically because Brown Asians have been overlooked from the American definition of Asian for generations. There has been much criticism against such erasure, and this movie only propagates it by branding a Chinese cast as a movie for all Asians. It presents Brown Asians as a backdrop to East Asian opulence and success, reinforcing the notion that Brown people are inferior to East Asians, those in closer proximity to whiteness. It further entrenches the idea that East Asians are the only Asians that matter. This should not be the case, especially because East Asians buy into and promote the model minority myth, conveniently cutting out those who do not fit into this narrative. Commentators keep referring it to as the first movie with an all-Asian cast in over two decades. However, Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem With Apu” also had a predominantly Asian cast, but because Brown Asians are often ignored within the U.S., the movie was not praised the way Crazy Rich Asians is being. One might say that a documentary is different from a movie but then what about "Missisipi Masala" or even "Harold and Kumar"?
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Like most movies for and about women, “Wrinkle” is being dismissed as not as relevant or important as one that is being marketed to the masculine cinematic gaze.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a classic science fiction fantasy novel that has graced the hands of children for decades. The new movie, directed by Ava DuVernay, places a young, Black girl as the main protagonist and fills out the cast with people of color (POC). This is a huge deal, so why is it not spoken of with the same reverence as Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther”? The answer is sexism and misogynoir. “Black Panther” is an important film for diversity across various spectrums. It’s a blockbuster movie that features a majority Black cast with major names attached to it, the merchandising is aimed at Black children, it’s actually being advertised and supported by the studio. Its existence in the pop culture scene and what it means for representation in media cannot be understated. The same can be said for “Wrinkle”, but when support was called for in making its opening weekend just as spectacular as what is promised for “Black Panther”, many Black male “nerds” scoffed at the idea. Because to them, this film was not on the same level. Where are the memes? The think pieces? The promises to show up with your kids, family, neighbors, and everybody on opening weekend? “A Wrinkle In Time” is the newest film version of the story, there have been a few before but this one is unique because it has made the main character, Meg Murry (Storm Reid), a Black child. The first point of contention for many is that she is of mixed heritage, her father is white. Because she’s not “all Black” then that is given as a reason to dismiss the importance of this portrayal for Black and Brown girls. That is bullshit. The reason that this film is not getting the support from the culture that it should is because it’s a “girl movie,” a space in entertainment that is woefully under respected, especially when it centers on women of color, as this one does. This film is being marketed for female audiences and the first merchandise we’ve seen from it are actual Barbies. Like most movies for and about women, “Wrinkle” is being dismissed as not as relevant or important as one that is being marketed to the masculine cinematic gaze.
Related: ‘A WRINKLE IN TIME’ IS A GAME CHANGER FOR THE FILM INDUSTRY

Stop believing what other people have to say about Black women, and start believing what Black women have to say about ourselves.

This week, rumors about actor and heartthrob Michael B. Jordan's alleged new girlfriend — Latina Instagram model, Ashlyn Castro — began to take root. Almost immediately after, news of a boycott against "Black Panther" appeared, supposedly led by Black women (but we didn't get that memo). Not a boycott of Michael B. Jordan or any of his other upcoming projects. Just "Black Panther", which is currently everybody's favorite Black power emblem. In this narrative, Black women quickly became traitors to our race, thoughtless and trivial. Our imagined lack of support for "Black Panther" translated very easily into a lack of support for Black men altogether, and this was used as a justification for the misogynoir that ensued. First of all, the sheer ease and momentum with which this wildfire rumor spread is proof enough for me that some people simply cannot wait to talk shit about Black women. All they need is a reason to air their already long or deeply-held misogynoir, whether or not that reason is based in any truth. The "Black women are boycotting "Black Panther" because Michael B. Jordan is dating a non-Black woman" hoax of 2018 was a pathetic attempt to make Black women appear bitter and paint us as irrational and irresponsible, unfit to make decisions about the media we consume — an old song that also plays during conversations about Black women's love for "Scandal" and disdain for "Birth of a Nation". The beginnings of it rest on misogynoir as much as the public’s willingness to believe in it does. Created by a known troll account on Instagram, ground zero of the fake "Black Panther" boycott effortlessly built its narrative around a familiar stereotype: Black women become irrationally angry when Black men date people of other races, especially white and white-presenting women (I'm sorry this discussion is so cisnormative and heteronormative). This is a belief that continues to grow more and more, with less and less context in each evolution. Even Jordan Peele's "Get Out" dipped its toe in this flavor of misogynoir when Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) insisted to his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), that the most likely reason for Georgina’s (Betty Gabriel) apparent coldness towards him was because she did not like the fact that he was in a relationship with a white woman. He had no evidence to support this claim when Rose questioned it, except to flatly say, “It's a thing.”
Related: THERE’S AN OFFICIAL BLACK PANTHER JEWELRY LINE, AND IT’S DOPE AF

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