Hollywood Is Finally Objectifying Asian Men, And We Couldn't Be Happier About It
Perhaps you’ve heard: Warner Brothers’ Crazy Rich Asians is a really, really big hit. In fact, it’s now only the third 2018 release to top the domestic box office for three straight weekends after Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
In addition to being maybe the best studio-released romantic comedy in a decade, it’s also, in no uncertain terms, a game-changer, a watershed moment in Hollywood. This is a turning point for Asian representation in popular entertainment.
It’s also the first time in Hollywood history that Asian men are being treated as sex objects, objects of desire, onscreen. It’s about damn time.
For as long as one can remember, Asian men have almost entirely been relegated to asexual sidekicks, or worse, punchlines. That’s all about to change, largely thanks to this record-setting blockbuster.
Crazy Rich Asians stars 31-year-old Malaysia-born Henry Golding. He’s almost impossibly attractive and charming, and he has multiple, gleefully gratuitous shirtless scenes in the film, including one where he changes his dress shirt in front of a window, the light from which perfectly frames his tight, smooth stomach, some of the sexiest abs you’ve seen in a long time. It’s a moment that already feels kind of iconic.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The picture is full of attractive men in various states of undress; one of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie is a similarly gratuitous, lingering, steamy look at 44-year-old super-fit Pierre Png taking a shower. We get a little glimpse of his butt, his front just out of sight. It’s gratuitous and technically unnecessary to forwarding the plot. It’s also a moment you remember, the difference between a good rom-com and a really special one, one where you can tell the people who made it really care about what they’re doing. Women, and to a lesser extent non-Asian men, have been sex objects onscreen for ages. Crazy Rich Asians evens the playing field, and delights us in the process.
And of course none of this would amount to much if these weren’t interesting, carefully developed characters. They are.
Crazy Rich Asians is directed by Jon M. Chu. He helped to crowdfund a short film two years back called It’s Asian Men!, about this very topic, the lack of Asian male representation in the mainstream. The short film is cute— and pretty sexy, too. Watch here.
Crazy Rich Asians is not the only wide release right now that features hot Asian guys without clothes. It’s worth mentioning that another August release, the stupid action thriller Mile 22 starring Mark Wahlberg, has one good scene.
It’s a scene where Indonesian actor Iko Uwais, a gorgeous specimen and martial arts virtuoso, kills a bunch of people in closed quarters with his bare hands, wearing nothing but tight black boxer-briefs. It’s a cool action scene and also I maybe got wood watching his muscular, graceful body move.
Also worth mentioning is that Sony’s cyber-thriller Searching, a critical and commercial success, is the first Hollywood suspense film to feature an Asian male lead— the always-adorable and quite talented John Cho.
Let’s not say that Asian men are having a moment; the 2010 census showed that Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S, so this is not a moment. Let’s just celebrate much-needed diversity and enjoy the eye candy.
Crazy Rich Asians is now playing in theaters. And it’s really, really good so you should go see it.