01:34:10 am on
Monday 17 Jun 2024

Chasing the Ideal
AJ Robinson

One of my favourite films, at least of recent times, is Crazy Rich Asians. My wife Jo Ann can attest to how many times I watched it via our streaming service. Briefly, the film follows a native New Yorker, Rachel Chu, to Singapore to meet the family of her boyfriend.

A simple rom-com.

Crazy Rich Asians is a basic meat-and-potatoes romantic comedy or rom-com, which hits all the usual clichés. There is the disapproving mother, the quirky supportive friends and the conniving ex-girlfriend. The two lovers play out a from-different-worlds scenario. There’s the race to the airport to propose and win the heart of the girl, at the last minute.

There’s nothing new to see, but the presentation is excellent. The leading players are delightful. The supporting cast includes some major talent. The unusual friends of the leads truly define the concept of quirky and are hilarious.

As the title implies, the cast is mostly Asian. As I recall, the few white folk shown are in the opening scenes and that’s it. Crazy Rich Asians was a bold move by Hollywood.

Yes, I know, Tinsel Town boasts of diversity and inclusion. If you look at its record of accomplishment, when it comes to non-white-centric films, the claim doesn’t hold much water. Still, we should celebrate Crazy Rich Asians and hope for more of the same in the future.

Many people did not praise Crazy Rich Asians. I’m not talking about a bunch of dumb yahoo racists. Oh, I’m sure they hated it and didn’t go see it. They’re just not the people who seemed the most vocal in their criticism.

No, the distinction for unexpected criticism, of the film, goes to ostensible liberals. Yes, a great many people complained the Asian actors were not the right sort of Asians to be playing the parts. The story takes place primarily in Singapore, but many roles went to Chinese-American actors, the cast spoke British and American English instead of Singaporean English and there were almost no actors representing the other ethnic groups that make up the citizenry of the country, including Malay, Indian and Eurasian, among others. A brief scene takes place in the Newton Food Centre and criticized for a lack of diversity.

Now, please understand, I agree, completely, that whenever possible, a story should be an accurate representation of its time, place and cast. The film Argo took much heat for focusing on the efforts of the CIA to get the embassy Americans out of Iran, glossing over the significant contributions of the Canadians. The Great Escape gave too much screen time to the Americans, who, in the real escape, were minor players among the British and Canadian escapees.

Let’s be reasonable and realistic. This is what happens when you tell a story. The ingredients are far from perfect. In my writing, especially the memoir of my parents and my time travel novel, I tried to be accurate.

Sometimes ya gotta speculate.

I didn’t know all that my parents said and did. My mother is alive, but she couldn’t give me all the details I needed. In researching Colonial America during the Revolutionary War, I did my best to get names and dates and places, manners of speaking, how people engaged with each other, especially the colonials and the Wampanoag, as close to realty as I could, but I know I fell short of the ideal.

I didn’t let perfect be the enemy of the possible. In the film Tomb Raider, the lead character, portrayed by an American actor, Angelina Jolie, was an Englishwoman; her friend, portrayed by an English actor, was an American. I don’t recall anyone complaining about that casting.

As I see it, this is the issue with the Democrats, today. It’s why I fret over their efforts to hold Trump and his minions accountable for their criminal acts. The Democrats have the best intentions, but they let the little details get in the way, which we’ve seen in the past.

Blacks protested Bernie Sanders in the last presidential election. Many liberals didn’t vote for Hillary because she wasn’t liberal enough, she was too liberal, they didn’t like her or they didn’t agree with her on certain issues. What was the result? Yeah, the Great Orange sits in the Oval Office.

You don’t see this on the other side. Without a doubt, Trump is the least moral and religious occupant of the presidency, ever, and, yet, evangelicals embrace him as if he’s the Second Coming. In fact, some call him that, which is scary.

Trump is their candidate. He gives them a voice, for, perhaps, the first time. They hope to get things from him: conservative judges in the federal courts and on the Supreme Court. They want a rollback of gay rights, civil rights, women’s right and the biggie, Rose v. Wade.

To win, to get their way, they are willing to compromise their beliefs, even those most dearly held. The ends justify the means. The perfect is not the enemy of the possible.

Are they hypocrites? Absolutely, but who is living in the White House? Which political party is getting their agenda put forward?

Chasing the ideal.

As with Crazy Rich Asians, I wish that our stories, films and, most especially, our government could be perfect, but can’t we learn to take things in a systematic process? Someday, maybe soon, an American film will portray an Asian, African or South American country and culture correctly. Until then, can’t we simply enjoy this film for what it is: a good first step? Can’t we also learn to accept our Democrat Congressmen and women, and most especially our Democrat presidential candidates for what they are: good steps forward? You really want more of the same from the Orange and his minions.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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