The popularity of Netflix's Crazy Rich Asians-inspired reality show "rides on the indulgence of old tropes, its tone deafness made worse in a pandemic era of anti-Asian racism," says Daphne K. Lee. She adds that Kane Lim's "simplistic, misleading assumption about Asians being pacifists is parallel to Western media attributing East Asia’s COVID-19 successes to Confucian values. A multitude of analysts have written about how COVID-19 policies are so effective in Asia because people barely question their government, not because of their knowledge and preparedness accumulated from several recent epidemics. This type of mindset also disregards a long history of resistance movements in different corners of Asia, reducing Asians to the stereotypes of being docile and passive. While the Bling Empire crew has reiterated excitement for broader representation and diversity on reality television, it speaks little for the Asian American community as a whole. Fans of the show are swooning over 'rich Asian culture' or wishing for a 'crazy rich Asian friend.' These unrealistic expectations are perpetuated by the blurring of wealth and culture in the series, which encapsulates neither genuine diversity nor reality. Given Asia being the world’s largest and most diverse continent, a universal Asian culture is fabricated by imagination. 'Rich Asian culture' sounds even more absurd. The umbrella term, 'Asian American,' too, was coined in the late 1960s to unite a multiethnic group — mostly Japanese and Chinese Americans — against discrimination and hate crimes. But even as new waves of Asian immigrants arrived in the United States, the Asian American label has remained largely associated with privileged East Asians. Bling Empire’s emphasis on a niche circle of Asian Americans reminds us that we’re the most economically divided racial group in the country. And although filming started in 2019, Netflix’s decision to release this feel-good show in 2021 ignores painful issues such as the blame we have unfairly received during the pandemic, a surge in violence against our community, and disproportionate losses among Filipino American healthcare workers. Asian Americans are consistently framed as the high-achieving model minority — somehow immune to economic hardships and racism — now also bearing the burden to be crazy and rich to appease a Hollywood that fetishizes Asians driving Lamborghinis."
TOPICS: Bling Empire, Netflix, Andrew Gray, Anna Shay, Kevin Kreider , Asian Americans and TV, Reality TV