The 1882 Foundation hosted its monthly Talk Story event on October 28, 2018 at the Chinatown I Street Conferencing Center, this time discussing the hit book and movie Crazy Rich Asians. The event featured Mohkeed Wong, Singapore book author/food blogger, and Amelia Tseng, Folk Life researcher and American University assistant professor. Stan Lou, 1882 Foundation’s Talk Story Director, also joined the discussion. The panel discussed the history of Singapore led by Mohkeed, giving a timeline of how Singaporean old money and new money came to be.
Mohkeed made sure to paint a more realistic picture of Singapore, including the cultural/ethnic diversity and wealth representations. She discussed the representations of Indian-Singaporeans in Crazy Rich Asians. Mohkeed was disappointed with the film relegating Indian-Singaporeans to security guards of the crazy rich individuals in the movie. In doing so, it frames Indian-Singaporeans as second-class citizens and takes away their agency. Both Mokheed and Professor Tseng commented on the realities of Singaporean wealth among citizens. This was depicted through one of the Crazy Rich Asians trailer parodies.
The Talk Story closed off with a discussion of the Mahjong scene at the end of the movie led by Stan Lou. One of the aspects discussed was the give and take nature of mahjong and how Eleanor and Rachel embody those aspects. Throughout the game, Eleanor wins by use the tiles others discard while Rachel on the other hand creates her own opportunities. Translated into real life, Eleanor did not really have anything going for her if she hadn’t met Phillip Young, Nick’s dad. Rachel on the other hand is a professor at NYU and would be fine on her own without Nick.
It was great to see community members come together and discuss what is functionally the Asian film of the century. I enjoyed the discussion regarding the mahjong scene the most. There was so much to dissect, and points were brought up that I haven’t thought of before, even as an avid mahjong player.
For a live stream of the Crazy Rich Asians Talk Story click here.
For an article discussing the mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asians click here.
For information about the November Talk Story click here.