“Crazy Rich Asians”, a Rom-Com with a Deeper Meaning

The film “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) directed by Jon M. Chu is one of the highest grossing romantic-comedy films of all time and is the first film in 25 years to have an all Asian cast in Hollywood. This rom-com was adapted from a novel also titled “Crazy Rich Asians” written by Kevin Kwan. “Crazy Rich Asians” not only broke box-office records, it also increased representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood.

The film centers around Rachel and Nick, a young couple living in New York. Nick and Rachel have been dating for quite some time, and Nick invites Rachel to go with him to his best friend’s wedding in his home of Singapore. As Rachel and Nick leave on their trip to Singapore, Rachel (who was born and raised as a part of the middle-class) begins to realize Nick’s secret; his family is insanely wealthy.

When the couple arrives in Singapore, Rachel learns that Nick is one of the most “eligible bachelors” in all of Singapore, and women are fighting to be with Nick. Rachel, who has never once been in the spotlight, gets to know Nick’s elite and eccentric family, as well as learn the ways of extremely wealthy socialites.

The comedic elements of the film are not solely represented through one-liners and jokes, but rather a much deeper social meaning. The film focuses around a female protagonist, who, in the end of the film, is the one person to make the biggest choice that determines her and Nick’s future as a couple. Rachel is the one who is given the choice whether or not to marry Nick, as marrying Nick would force him to break off ties with his mother, who disapproves of their relationship. Rachel loves Nick, but also wants for him to be able to have a relationship with his mother.

These power dynamics are very interesting and quite ironic, as the middle-class woman is the one who is making this major decision for an extremely wealthy man.

This irregular shift in power dynamics is very comedic, because in today’s world, all too often, money equals power, but in this instance it didn’t. In addition to money, Nick is also a man, and it is a “norm” in society for the man to make major choices in a relationship. The woman of normal economic status was the one making the decision that would impact Nick’s entire family with either choice she made.

Rachel made the decision to not marry Nick out of love for him, as she did not want him to lose contact with his family. But, in the end, Nick proposes to Rachel with his mother’s ring, and reveals that she has given them her blessing to marry.

The comedic element of irony is quite present in this film, and it is used to reveal the roles of gender and class, and how our views of them impact our perception of the world. Personally, I found it quite comedic that Rachel was the one to make the choice, when Nick and his family are of elite social status and great wealth.

I now realized after more closely analyzing the comedy in this film that it has a much deeper and socially rooted meaning, as it discusses the issues of gender and wealth, and how we view people according to these factors.

“How do we Treat Teachers in The United States?”: The Bigger Question Presented by Key and Peele

We are all too familiar with major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and many others. I think that almost every American could name at least three major league American athletes, but can Americans name three important and extremely influential famous educators? The answer is most likely no.

Key and Peele’s sketch on Comedy Central’s YouTube page titled “TeachingCenter” centers around a fictional teaching report television program, and has a similar structure to that of ESPN’s SportsCenter. The satire details the news for teachers in the United States, such as the teaching draft, teachers taking offers from new schools with $80 million contracts, teaching highlights and even listing the school rankings at the bottom of the screen.

This sketch is both brilliantly written and performed, as it almost identically mimics the structure of ESPN’s SportsCenter. This sketch is quite comedic because the announcers (Key and Peele) are talking about teaching as if it is a professional sport, where athletes are nationally praised for their athleticism and are paid millions and millions of dollars to play.

I also really enjoyed this parody in that it highlights a bigger issue in the United States, how we respect and praise our very own teachers. Teachers open so many educational and life doors for students, and a good teacher can be the difference between a student succeeding, or falling between the cracks in life. Many teachers make salaries that they can barely live on, while professional athletes boast their luxury cars, private jets, and million dollar mansions.

This satire truly puts into perspective what we see as important as Americans. Teachers, who work tirelessly to set students up for a bright future are put in a much lower place in society than professional athletes.

I found this sketch both very comedic and powerful, because it gave me a good laugh, and it made me think about the importance of education to the American people.

“English Rose, ” A Love Poem

The song, “English Rose” by Ed Sheeran appears on his album, Multiply: Wembly Edition. The first time I heard this song, I immediately fell in love with both its musical and lyrical elements, and it has been my favorite song for almost two years.

This song is most certainly poetry in every way, through its flowing metaphors, rhythm, diction, imagery, rhymes and deep emotion that helps the listener understand the strong love and longing Sheeran is expressing through his music.

In this song, Sheeran is describing being on tour and playing shows in Tennessee, across the sea from his home in England.

I spend my days, just traveling and playing shows

But my heart still beats, for my home and my English Rose

In these particular lines of the song, the metaphor “English Rose” Sheeran is describing is his love interest, an English woman back at his home in England. The term “English Rose” is often used to describe a very beautiful English woman, as well as a type of beautiful and vibrant rose, and this is whom Sheeran is describing his longing for throughout this song. Sheeran is also describing, through powerful diction and imagery, how he loves to perform and tour with his music, but that his heart really belongs with his love interest back at home.

In addition to the metaphors in these lines of the song, the words “shows” and “Rose” rhyme, which is another poetic element that adds rhythm to the lyrics of the song.

I told my dad, on the phone it’s amazing
From the street to the craziest places I’ve seen

but I’d long to be
In the arms of my true love
Like he loves my mother, he understands me

In this section of the song, Sheeran is describing how he discussed, with his father, his feelings of longing towards the woman he loves. His father describes his love for Sheeran’s mother, and is able to understand the pain Sheeran feels in not being able to be with the one he loves. Sheeran uses the imagery of yearning to be in the arms of his “true love”, which helps the listener to understand the deep desire he feels to be with his “English Rose.”

The use of multiple poetic devices as well as the strong and deep emotion and desire conveyed in this song make it poetry in every sense, as it made me, and so many other listeners, feel these deep feelings along with Sheeran in this beautiful song.

English Roses!

Beloved and The Middle Passage

In class one day, we discussed that passage in which Beloved talks about where she came from. Beloved doesn’t name a specific location of her origin, but rather gives the reader a detailed description.

Beloved described the place that she came from as “dark” and “hot. Nothing to breathe down there and no room to move in” and that “A lot of people is down there. Some is dead.”

This description sparked much discussion and interpretation among the class. Some commonly agreed upon ideas within the classroom were Hell, a coffin, and a womb.

Then, Mr. Heidkamp gave a suggestion that nobody in the class had brought up, that Beloved was describing her journey through The Middle Passage.

The Middle Passage is the route slaves took from Western Africa to North America, where they would be sold into slavery. The Middle Passage was described by some slaves as the worst form of punishment, and in most slave autobiographies, this middle passage through the Atlantic Ocean isn’t even mentioned.

About 50% of Africans forced onto these slave ships died in The Middle Passage due to little to no food, water or shelter, as well as disease. Many debates in the colonies and later on, the states, involved whether these slave ships should be “tightly” or “loosely” packed with slaves.

The extreme dehumanization and of these people on The Middle Passage speaks to the horrors of slavery, and the disgusting actions the European colonists in North America.

Beloved expressed her dislike, and possibly even fear, of the place that she came from earlier on in the novel. It made me think a lot about this Middle Passage, and the other horrors that people faced due to the abuse of European power and force.

After I left that day in class, I heavily reflected on the emotional and physical impact of this passage, and how if a person was able to survive it, they would still be left with the horrible emotional trauma of the gruesome journey.

Woman at War and Maternity

The movie Woman at War tells the story of a woman named Halla, who is a social activist fighting to end climate change in Iceland. Halla’s strong passion for protecting the environment has led her to extreme actions, as she has repeatedly turned off and even completely destroyed power lines that power the city.

In the midst of Halla’s extreme political activism, she received a call that her application for adoption has been approved, and there is a young girl from the Ukraine named Nika who is in need of a new home.

This news did not stop Halla from continuing to fight for the environment, and she was eventually arrested for her crimes.

After her arrest, Halla’s sister had agreed to be the new mother of Nika, and had planned to go to the Ukraine and bring her back to Iceland.

But, during a prison visit, Halla’s sister was telling her about her plan to move to the Ukraine when she gets Nika. Halla’s sister chooses to switch places with Halla in order for her to become the mother of Nika, which is something she has always wanted.

Halla then makes the journey to the Ukraine, and is able to adopt Nika and start her new life in the Ukraine.

Halla is depicted as an independent, resilient and determined woman, and is a strong, influential female protagonist.

In society, women who become mothers are often told to “settle down” and only focus on raising their children in the home. For Halla, this reality of motherhood is quite the opposite.

Even immediately after she leaves the orphanage with Nika, the bus they are on breaks down and they are forced to walk through extremely high levels of water.

Halla’s strength and aspirations will most certainly not “slow down” as she begins to parent Nika. Halla represents an independent woman who will be both a loving mother towards her child, as well as an activist that will keep on working persistently to change the world they live in.

Imprisonment vs Existentialism

After reading The Stranger and thoroughly discussing Meursault’s style of narration throughout the novel in class, I think most can conclude that Meursault has many traits of that of an existentialist.

After murdering the Arab in Part I of the novel, Meursault is taken to prison, where he must stay as he awaits his trial.

Throughout the entirety of Part I, it very clear that Meursault feels almost essentially nothing, and the reader lives the story through almost solely his observations and concrete events.

But as you dive deeper into Part II, we begin to get into Meursault’s brain and thinking process. For example, Meursault has the desire to smoke cigarettes while in prison, and “couldn’t understand why they [prison guards] had taken them away when he didn’t hurt anybody. Later on he realized that too was part of the punishment” (Camus 78).

Through the example of Meursault’s desire for cigarettes, the reader is able to see the his seemingly indestructible existentialist ideals deteriorate as he is in isolation and has lost essentially all of his freedom.

Existentialist ideals focus around that all of our learning comes through our experiences. While in the company of others and having freedom in doing whatever he pleased, Meursault was able to hang onto his existentialist ideals firmly. But as soon as this freedom was taken from him when he went to prison, we being to see the cracks in Meursault’s character as he is isolated from other people and the free world.

Existentialist base their entire off of freedom, and once this is taken from them, their character often changes and their normal dis attached tendencies seem to slowly fade away, as in the case of Meursault.

Works Cited:

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Connection Between “The Cariboo Cafe” and Current Events

The Cariboo Cafe by Helena Maria Viramontes is a short story that follows three different perspectives, that of two young children named Sonya and Macky, The Cariboo Cafe cook, and an unnamed mother. All three sections of the story share the common connection of the characters ending up at The Cariboo Cafe for a variety of reasons, the most important reason being the influence of society.

In class, we discussed how the true protagonist of The Cariboo Cafe is not a specific character, but rather the society and system as a whole.

The Cariboo Cafe was written in 1984, and during this time was the Central American crisis. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala broke out into civil wars and communist revolutions that created violence and made it extremely dangerous to live in these places.

As a result of this violence, many Central Americans began to seek refuge in the United States for safety, like Sonya and Macky in The Cariboo Cafe.

Today, many people from Mexico and Central American countries are immigrating into the United States for safety and more opportunity, like Sonya and Macky and the unnamed woman in The Cariboo Cafe.

In The Cariboo Cafe, the cook seems to have closed minded opinions about these immigrants, referring to them as “illegals” and “weirdos” (Viramontes 2981).

Today, President Trump has said similar comments about Mexican immigrants, referring to them as “bad hombres” and “rapists” (Ross, Washington Post).

These closed minded and racist ideals from both the cook and President Trump reveal the consistency of American ignorance and how it hasn’t changed in the many decades between these two events.

It shows that Americans need to learn acceptance and empathy towards those who are immigrating to the United States to escape violence and to better themselves and their families.

Works Cited:

“The Cariboo Cafe”, A short story by Maria Helena Viramontes

Ross, Janell. “From Mexican Rapists to Bad Hombres, the Trump Campaign in Two Moments.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Apr. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/20/from-mexican-rapists-to-bad-hombres-the-trump-campaign-in-two-moments/.