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Are you Kaki Lang?

August 21, 2018

 

Guess who just watched Crazy Rich Asians? 

 

The movie is frothy perfection. Beautiful settings, beautiful actors, beautifully Asian story about family disapproval vs Love. It's all about kaki lang (our own people) and those who just... aren't. 

 

Stories about outsiders and insiders certainly strike a chord in these days when everyone wants to define their identity and delineate the lines between Us and Them. Crazy Rich Asians (the movie - I've not read the book) makes it clear that the boundary isn't really a line, it's really more of a schmeared out blur that overlaps into the other. We all have similarities and differences. I like to think that we are all the little strokes in an Impressionist painting. All of us are self-contained, and overlapping, and together we form a complete picture.

 

I'm not Asian-American and I certainly am not crazy rich, though if there's a Cai Shen Ye out there wanting to change that fact, please do so. The story that resonated with me was Rachel Chu's identity as an only child with a single parent. (My own Prince Charming isn't as fantastically rich as Nick Young, but he is just as supportive and loving, and for that I am thankful.) My peers had both parents. I was always aware how my family was different - in so many ways - and later, when I identified as a bisexual woman, I became even more aware that I was not quite like my friends.

 

Yet, if I look at me objectively, I have far more similarities with my peers. I also have plenty of privilege. I am Chinese, and I am fluent in Chinese, which in my country makes me the dominant culture. I am university-educated; there are more doors open to me than to many other people who have not attended tertiary education. I know my way around the Internet and I know how to find my communities. Some people do not have access to these.

 

So am I an outsider or insider? Whether I am kaki lang is determined by other people. In the same vein, I decide if someone is in my tribe or not. Hence, for me, the main takeaway of this fluffy, feel-good movie is that all of us have to decide: Who are your people? How wide will you throw open your doors?

 

PS: I love Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her kickass line of dialogue right at the end. If there isn't a sequel with her and Charlie (Harry Shum Jr, I adore and worship you, you looked stunning), I may just write a few dozen angry letters to the Powers That Be.

 from Harry Shum Jr's Instagram

 

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