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Crazy Rich Asians - Movie Review From Asian Men Panel

With Baldwin Chiu, Kirk Akahoshi, Dan Horner and Long Le

Published on: Sep 28, 2018

Joining the Asian men’s panel for the review of the number one ranking movie Crazy Rich Asians are Baldwin Chiu, Kirk Akahoshi, Dan Horner, and Long Le. They talk about how the movie impacted Asian-Americans and how different the Asian-American view is compared to the Asians who still live in their own country. To recap, the plot of the movie follows Rachel Chu, an Asian-American woman who accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young, to Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding. This is the first time Rachel will meet Nick’s family. Like most Asian-Americans, she does not expect much. What happened during this trip will open her eyes, test her heart, and challenge her identity. Join the insightful and deep discussion as Baldwin, Kirk, Dan, and Long bring out the unique perspective of the Asian men about this movie.

Crazy Rich Asians: Movie Review From Asian Men Panel with Baldwin Chiu, Kirk Akahoshi, Dan Horner, and Long Le

Kimchi: We have another special episode for you. This episode, we will have a discussion with the Asian men’s panel. The focus of this special episode is about the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, which is ranking number one in America. We are going to talk about how this movie impacted us as Asian-Americans and how different our view is compared to the Asians who still live in their own country. If you have not read the interview with the Asian women’s panel, I encourage you to do so. The discussion was insightful and deep. We are going to do our best to bring out the unique perspective of the Asian men about this movie.

To recap, the plot of the movie Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel Chu, an Asian-American woman who accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young, to Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding. This is the first time Rachel will meet Nick’s family. Like most Asian-Americans, she does not expect much. What happened during this trip will open her eyes, test her heart and challenge her identity. We’re not going to reveal too much about a movie, but we are going to talk about a few scenes in this movie. Let’s welcome our men’s panel. Please introduce yourself, your name, your ethnicity, generation, marital status, occupation and your age. Let’s start out with Kirk.

Kirk: I’m Kirk Akahoshi. I’m a Japanese-American. I’m also a fourth-generation Japanese-American. That means my great grandparents came over from Japan. I am married. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and executive coach. I lead men’s retreats and sacred circles. I am 43 years old.

Kimchi: Thank you. How about you, Dan?

Dan: My name is Dan Horner and I live in Tucson, Arizona. I’m an event producer in the self-help, healing, alternative health and wellness and spirituality space. I’ve been doing that for about eight years. I’m single. I’m 44 years old. I’m happy to be here. It’s an honor to be here with you, Kimchi, and with all the other fine men on this panel, including Kirk, who’s one of my heroes.

Kimchi: Thank you. Long?

Long: My name is Long. My ethnicity is Vietnamese. I’m the second generation here. I am single. My occupation is a business development consultant. I’m 39 years old. I’m happy to be here to be a part of this panel with everyone else.

Kimchi: Thank you. Baldwin?

Baldwin: First, I’ve got to say, it is awesome to see three good-looking men on this panel. Thank you, guys, for being here. My name is Baldwin Chiu. I am Chinese-American. I guess I had to put an asterisk by that because I would say I am the fifth generation. I’m the producer of the film, Finding Cleveland, which is about the discovery of the early Chinese in Mississippi. We discovered my great grandfather was buried in Mississippi. The fifth-generation thing is strange because the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented my family to be born here consecutively. My daughter is a sixth generation of Americans in our family in America, but we were not consecutive because the Chinese Exclusion Act didn’t allow us to be born here. That’s a whole other story. I am married. I am 44 years old. I’m a film producer, hip-hop artist, beatboxer and I do engineering on the side.

Kimchi: Thank you. The first question is how many times did you see the movie? Dan?

Dan: I’ve only seen it the one time and I will definitely be going to see it again a second and probably a third time, depending on which of my white friends want to go with me.

Kimchi: There will be a translator later on.

Dan: Sure, why not.

Baldwin: The good thing is you don’t need a translator because it is in English. I only saw it once as well, but I’ve wanted to see it a second time. I haven’t had the chance to do it, but I definitely will be seeing it again.

Long: I got the opportunity to see it twice. One time with my friends in Las Vegas and one time with my friends in San Diego, where I am a current resident.

Kirk: I’ve also only seen it once, but I’m also looking forward to seeing it a second time, especially after this interview. As I’ve been reading more and more articles, I have a much finer eye for the second viewing. That’s going to be very interesting for me.

Kimchi: For this panel, only Long saw it twice. Did the movie get better or do you feel less emotional the second time?

Long: I saw it from a different perspective the second time and I still did feel the emotional connection to it. I looked at it from a deeper perspective from that. Watching it the second time, there was a lot of comedy. It was the things that I completely missed. Seeing that on a deeper level was very interesting.


Crazy Rich Asians: Being an Asian, I fight a lot with my parents because they want a certain structure.

Kimchi: What’s your most memorable scene? The scene that made you feel sad, made you feel happy, made you feel angry or made you laugh out loud?

Long: The scene that stood out the most for me was when Nick was willing to give up everything for Rachel. That was an important scene for me because being an Asian, I fight a lot with my parents because they want a certain structure. They want certain things for me. Having that dichotomy, living in America and seeing that, I’ve done a lot of things that I fought against my parents. Me and my parents kept on clashing all the time where I got to the point where my father disowned me. Now our relationship is awesome, but there are many times that I clashed because of the cultural differences and what they want. For me to be able to accept it and sometimes hold my breath and just do to make them happy, seeing that was liberating.

Kimchi: Which scene was that? I don’t remember.

Long: It was near towards the end where Rachel came up to the mom and said, “He asked me to marry him and he’s willing to give up everything to come back and live with me.” She said, “I told him no.” That was towards the end when she talked to the mother when they were playing Mahjong. It was the proposal and everything during that time.

Dan: There were two scenes that I thought were memorable for me. One, I’m not exactly sure why and then the other one I definitely know why. The first one is the very first scene of the movie where they come into the hotel and they’re not welcomed there. I’ve only had minor league experience, nothing quite that bad in my time here since the 1970s. It certainly has happened. The thing is they nailed many subtleties of this movie throughout the entire movie that I hope we talk about more throughout the entire interview. The one that they nailed for me, like they grabbed me right away, was when she bought the hotel and fired the staff. At first, I thought, “What a typical scene. It’s a normal Hollywood scene where someone’s getting put down on.”

When she bought the hotel and fired the staff, it nailed me so badly because I’ve had those exact same thoughts. I don’t know how many times in my life where I was like, “I’m going to buy this place and fire all of you a-holes.” It grabbed me strongly and was like, “You got me there.” The second one was when they were making the food together as a family. That’s the one where I’m not sure why that grabbed me, but I got emotional during that scene. I’m Korean-American and it’s not even that it was Korean food, but it reminded me enough of Korean food. It’s Asian cultural food that I never thought I would see that happening in a film. It’s not that I even thought about it. It’s that I never even thought that that might ever happen. It never even occurred to me that might happen. When I saw it, it was the conspicuous absence of something that I’d never observed before. I thought it was moving for me.

Kimchi: Are you talking about making the dumpling together?

Dan: Yes, making the dumplings as a family especially. She talked about the cultural significance of that and that we don’t keep those cultural practices alive. That they might go away.

Baldwin: The most memorable scene for me would be when Rachel found out the truth about her father when the mom revealed it. It was one of those things where I wasn’t expecting that because it was laid out really well to where you didn’t expect that to be the answer. At least for me, maybe some of you guys could foresee it. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought, “That’s typical of a mother’s love.” I’ve experienced that too, not that my parents were separated. The fact my mom would hide things from me, so I wouldn’t get hurt, to try to protect me or to shelter us in a way. Whereas most Americans that are non-Asian, the parents would be a little more like, “Just say it.” They tell you bluntly in your face if you’re doing something wrong. They don’t mind letting you know. Maybe it’s the whole saving face or not losing face thing but it impacted me because I was like, “There was a dark secret in the family,” and Asians try to hide that darkness in the past, at least my family did. That part got me.

Kirk: Since Dan said two, so I get two. Thanks, Dan. The two that I want to talk about that I guess are different from what you are seeing, just to give it a little fuller picture, I like the dinner scene at Awkwafina’s house with Ken Jeong. One of the kids didn’t want to eat the chicken and he said, “There are starving kids in America.” That made me laugh good. Much of the American cultural perspective on foreign countries is so much that way. Anybody outside of America is poor, suffering or second class. To have that turned around, it was like, “Thank you. Let’s show the perspective of how Americans must look like in a comedic way.”

The other favorite scene was the Mahjong scene. I knew it was a powerful scene and I didn’t know much about Mahjong. That intrigued me to go and look at the research or what people were talking about and the different layers about that scene. That makes for good storytelling. It’s not so much in your face, but you have to know many different cultural contexts like why was the bamboo ones the ones tossed aside? How that’s related to being a banana? How Rachel could have won, but she knows all about strategy and letting Nick’s mom win. It was a complex scene, very subtle and made you want to learn more about the culture and the game. That’s why it was one of my favorites as well.

Kimchi: What was your favorite scene and why?

Baldwin: Kirk just took mine, when he was talking about the Mahjong scene. For all of the reasons he said, I don’t need to repeat it, but I thought it was well-crafted. I thought it was shot well. I don’t play Mahjong a lot, but I’ve played it a little bit and I learned a little bit of it. I’ve seen the old ladies play it in the halls and stuff like that. I love that part. I love the fact that it went full circle the way the story was told because the film started with her in the classroom talking about game strategy. They didn’t lose. It became a full circle and it came back to that’s how they ended the movie with her doing something that she’s great at, which was the game strategy. It related to the life strategy and heart strategy. It was powerful. I know people that didn’t even understand Mahjong, never seen the game before. The way he shot it and the way the acting was done, people knew that she could have won. It was one of the things that you didn’t have to understand the game, but once you understand the game, that’s even more exciting when you understand.

Long: I would have to agree with both Kirk and Baldwin on the Mahjong. That’s probably my favorite scene. The strategy, it was understanding how it comes back down. Rachel was able to not only a win it through strategy, but at the same time throw it back in her face and saying, “This is how life is. Whether you decide which direction you go, it’s not a win-win situation for you. You’ve got to decide which direction you want to go,” and then she walked away being proud of what she did and stood for herself, being proud of walking away with her mom. That was one of my favorite scenes. That was probably my favorite scene, ultimately.

Dan: I agree with what Baldwin said about the scene with the secrets of the family. Until you said that, I didn’t quite get that. I was like, “That’s a thing for me too. That’s another thing that hit home for me.” What I loved about that scene was she was probably a lower-class citizen before she left China and then she came and her daughter made it big. She’s a professor at NYU and she’s marrying this guy, Nick Young, in the movie. The film was a great marriage of second-generation Asians and Asian culture or Singaporean culture specifically. They did a great literal and figurative marriage of second generations and Asian culture. What I loved was that the mother had come over and she had these dark secrets or whatever and she wasn’t of the highest class of society. Her daughter had made it big in the United States and then could come back, and her own daughter who would marry the most eligible bachelor in Singapore. It put the American flavor on it, the second-generation flavor and I appreciate that aspect of the film.

Kirk: I would say that what struck me the most right off the bat was it was validating to see good-looking Asians, especially Asian-American or Asian men, because there are not many scenes in other movies where we’re that good-looking. Second of all, we had American and British accents. That is a long time coming. Me being a fourth-generation Japanese-American, it was like, “Thank you,” because many times it’s always portrayed that we’re foreign. We’re not from America. We’re not from other places. We’re always from the Orient. We’re always going to have that. Throughout it was like, “Thank you.” That was the most impressionable part for me.

Baldwin: I thought that was funny because when you mentioned that, the Ken Jeong scene where he allowed Americans to watch the scene. If you didn’t know who Ken Jeong was, you probably thought he did have an accent. He was like, “I’m just playing. I’m an American. I have no accent.” I thought it was funny because I’m thinking in the context of an American that does not know who Ken Jeong is. They probably expected him to speak that way. Now they see that’s just stereotype, that’s wrong.

Kimchi: For me, my favorite scene was also during the Mahjong playing. It’s not about Mahjong, but about Rachel’s comment. She told the mom that if Nick follows her without the parent’s approval, Nick won’t be happy. If Nick obeys the parents and leaves her, then Nick will resent the family forever. That’s impactful for me because I see that happening all the time from the Asian family. They force the children to leave the guy or leave the girl because of the family status. What did you learn about yourself after watching this movie? Are you proud to be an Asian-American?

Dan: It did bring a lot of pride to see the film. It made me prouder to be an Asian-American. Never having seen a film like this in American cinema, there was a conspicuous absence of something. I don’t know that I could’ve put my finger on it before the film, but this film broke ground. It made me realize how little I’ve seen someone that looks like me in major media, whether it is television or film. Ken Jeong, his first major roles, he’s the jester, he’s the comedian. A lot of the Asian roles he has have been like this guy who’s like Revenge Of The Nerds where it’s this clueless guy who doesn’t know what’s going on. Ken Jeong, he plays this whacked out gangster guy, but he’s not the lead character. This film broke ground and it made me realize the subconscious effect of never having seen that. It made me proud on that front that we’ve broken this invisible glass ceiling that I didn’t even know was there in a sense.

Kirk: I would probably echo what you’re saying, Dan. For me, what is our Asian-American identity? There are not many role models that we see. It was like, “I can be Bruce Lee or I can be Long Duk Dong.” Those are two extremes, but there’s nothing in the middle. For the younger generations to see, “There are all these different types of male and female characters. It’s not so typecast.” That was refreshing. Number one, that’s important. Anytime I meet somebody who had ties with Hollywood, I’d ask, “How come there are no Asian leading men or women?” Over and over I kept on hearing, “They’re not bankable. Nobody would go see that.” That’s BS. I didn’t feel that way, but I’m not in Hollywood. I don’t have any control. It’s just my opinion. Having this movie do well for many weeks and breaking records, it’s like, “Finally, see.” Get out of your prejudice. We are bankable. I wish Hollywood wasn’t so much more money-oriented but it’s okay, so be it. At least it shows that people are going to go see stories and actors who are of Asian descent.

Dan: I want to say one more thing on the tail end of that is something that hits close to home for me. When I was a kid in the 1970s, my dad, who was white said to my mother, “This kid, he’s a showman. He’s an actor. He’s a performer.” I was always putting on these shows as a little kid and entertaining my family. My dad said, “We should get him into acting classes.” My mother was experiencing the racism that was happening in the ‘70s. My mother, fresh off the boat, first generation who was experiencing some pretty strong racism at the time, she said, “We don’t want to let him become an actor because they’re never going to let him be the lead role. He’s always going to be this side character if he gets anything at all.”

I didn’t know that until I was an adult. My dad told me that story when I was an adult. Even this possibility was squashed before it could even be given any room to breathe. Later as an adult, I did do some community theater. I’m on stage a lot as an event producer. I emcee all my events. I am this performer. One of the things that moved me was to see those folks that now they’re going to have future roles. They can be big stars. It did touch me to see that. I was super proud that is at least being broken to some extent. It hit home.

Crazy Rich Asians: Get out of your prejudice. Asians are bankable. At least it shows that people are going to go see stories and actors who are of Asian descent.

Long: What I learned is that it’s okay for me to have arguments with my parents and be felt I’m in a guilt trip because my mom was putting me in a guilt trip to do what my mom truly wants me to do. Reality is I got to do what’s best for me. Watching that and knowing that I’m not the only one that’s going through the same challenges, it was refreshing. It was an eye-opener because I used to spite myself going, “I should listen to my mom because my mom is using this guilt trip of I don’t love her if I don’t do this.” It’s a comfort where it’s like, “It’s okay. I’ve got to do what’s best for me. I’ve got to be able to live my life and not live what my parents expect me to be.”

Baldwin: I am proud to be an American and to be Asian-American. What the film did was make me learn more about myself. Even though I already knew that I always had this passion to do something different in the entertainment industry, to break some grounds or to encourage grounds to be broken for people that look like us, what this film helped me do is it gave me an understanding that I can take it to the next level. I’ve had these conversations with people in the past in entertainment who said, the bottom line says, “We don’t want Asians.” I’ve talked to those people before. I feel what I’ve learned is now I have another opportunity to go back to these same people and be like, “Let’s continue our conversation. I’m not going to beat you on the head. Let’s talk about this again. Let’s see if your perspective has changed.”

I want more of this and I want to be a part of something where I can bring more people in, whether it be myself or somebody else, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re fairly represented. I’ve been speaking to a lot of executives over the summer. One of the things that have been common is about the authenticity of films. The viewers know when they’ve been scammed, that’s why films don’t do well. A lot of times, we would see films that are not authentic about who we are. Our community is going to slam it and we’re not going to enjoy it. We’re going to have this negative impact and those impact us for longer than one generation. That might prevent us from trying to make a difference. Now we see something that is authentic. The secret of great filmmaking is authenticity. Your viewers are smarter than that. Now we’ve shown them something authentic. We’ve shown them that we can be on screen and we can teach the world about who we are. Not like those two extremes like Kirk was talking about. We can be in the middle and we can fit into your narrative in some way, somehow, whether it’s yours. All of us can fit into that narrative and all of us can be normalized in everyday conversation.

Kimchi: From watching this movie, has it reminded you of some past wounds from the family members?

Baldwin: I’m in the entertainment industry and my dad was like, “You should never do stuff like that.” We’re Americans. We believe in the American dream that we can do anything but then our parents are like, “You can’t do everything. You can only do a doctor, lawyer, engineer and businessman.” It opened up some wounds, but the good thing is I was able to talk to my parents and I was like, “I saw the movie. You guys should see it. Go on a date. Just watch the movie. You’ll like it.” I didn’t think they would because I felt if my dad saw the film it would be like, “You’re just encouraging me to encourage him to do something.” He went and watched it. He and my mom liked it. There are points in the film where I was hoping they would watch it and see how I and my father didn’t get along because I was never good enough because I’m American. That was a big line in the movie about, “You will never be enough.” She was like, “Why, because I’m not rich?” “No, because you’re American, that’s why you’re not good enough.” I felt that’s how I was growing up. I wasn’t Asian but I wasn’t American but to me, I’m American, to my dad I wasn’t. Those wounds opened up and I’m hoping that he now sees what the importance was for a film like this to finally come back out.

Kimchi: It touched my heart too when Grace talked to Rachel. Grace said, “You will never be enough.” For most of us, as Asian women, we feel that we are not good enough. In general, women always feel that we are not good enough. How does it work for men? Do men ever feel that you are good enough or you would never be enough?

Long: I’m glad Baldwin brought that up because it’s one of the things that I never thought about what he shared. I always felt I was never good enough for my dad’s connection. That was the big dichotomy between me and my dad. My dad came from a military background, very structured. Myself over here in America, I’m very free. I want to do things on my own and we have different mindsets. My dad wanted me to get a job where I wanted to be an entrepreneur. We kept on clashing heads, butting. I’ve always felt I was never good enough for his connection. I didn’t realize that until I lost over $400,000. That was when I took a look back at my life and figure out my patterns. I realized that everything that I did was because I was trying to prove to my dad I was good enough for his connection. When I realized that, I took a stand for connection. That’s what I stand for now. My relationship with him to this day is awesome because my dad hugs me. He tells me he loves me out of nowhere. It would have never been that way if I never realized that. I always felt I was never good enough for my dad’s connection. That was one of the things that touched me. I never made that connection until Baldwin brought it up. That’s what I got out of my experience on that.

Kirk: I’m fortunate to have wonderful and loving parents. I still have deep wounds of not good enough, not from my parents but culturally, this intergenerational trauma. During World War II, they were all put in the internment camps so there’s this deep wounding. Even though my whole family was born and raised in America and we’re American citizens, that because of the war that we’re all put in internment camps. Coming out of that, this starts to affect me as well. That’s impacted me about, “I don’t feel good enough.” Before I got married, I would date interracially and that would come up. I know that sometimes I would be dating somebody and then they would say, “You’re the first Asian that I’ve ever dated.”

It’s always, “I’m not good enough.” I would talk to some of my friends like, “I like her,” and they’re like, “Really? Do you think you have a chance?” It’s that reminder, “I’m not good enough because I’m Asian.” If I wasn’t, I probably would be good enough because I have everything else. I have the good grades. I have good friends. I’ve got all these other things but because of my culture, I’m not good enough. That’s propelled me too also professionally. It’s like, “I can’t be a therapist. I have to be a really good therapist.” I went and got trained in four different modalities because it’s like, “I don’t feel good enough. I’ve got to keep earning these credentials.” It’s been my own personal work to start to let that go just to be, “No, Kirk. I am good enough. I don’t need these other things to make me feel that way.” On a more cultural level, that’s where I feel the wounding of not good enough.

Dan: I definitely feel culturally I’ve gotten wounded in not being good enough. Most of you guys grew up on the West Coast, which I’m sure it wasn’t the most fantastic treatment of Asians. I grew up in a suburban white town on the East Coast. At one point the KKK used to recruit there every couple of years. There would be guys going around trying to recruit new folks. I certainly got a lot of racism in school. I was definitely treated like a second-class citizen. I couldn’t be the best at sports. I could be the best at academics. I was the funny guy in class. I had all sorts of things going for me, but I always felt I was treated like a second-class citizen where I was not going to be voted into being the team captain. I was not going to be the president of the student body. It wasn’t even an option because no one was going to see me in that position or vote for me in that way. I definitely had that. It’s something that I have worked on internally for several years. I feel I’m finally landing into a place where I don’t even think about whether I’m good enough or not anymore. I just do what I’ve got to do. I’m sure there’s still some there that I’m working on, but it’s about 10% of what used to be. I can say for sure.

Baldwin: That’s a great point you bring up, Dan. The wounds from the friends probably hurt more than the wounds from the family, although the family is hurt pretty bad. The friend ones hurt more because they’re the ones you grew up with, they’re your peers. Just that your family is family, you can move out anyway. I remember many of the comments like, “It’s getting a little nippy here, don’t you think?” I was the captain of the football team, I was the quarterback and they would still make comments like that. I remember one of the top linebackers on our team he was like, “Chiu, I never thought you would end up being our quarterback.” I was like, “Where’s that coming from?” No one blinked when I was the president of the Honor Society. They were like, “We expect you to be the president of the Honor Society, but we don’t expect you to be on the basketball team, definitely not on the football team and definitely not a quarterback.”

It was always hurtful to hear racist comments. I was born in San Francisco, so I didn’t get as much racism there, but then I moved to the suburbs of Sacramento. I went from highly Asian population to hardly any Asian population. I remember in third grade I got beat up in the recess by ten kids because as soon as I walked into class, they’re like, “You’re like Bruce Lee. You know karate. We’re going to test you during recess,” and they did. That was traumatic. They wouldn’t mess with me now, but that was traumatic in third grade.

Kimchi: In a way, that’s a blessing. It reminds you to take some karate lessons.

Long: I’m the same way. When I was in elementary school, I went to an all-white Hispanic school down next to the border. There weren’t any Asians because my parents wanted to keep me away from the Vietnamese. They moved into an area where there are no Vietnamese because of the gangsters and everything. They want me to grow up as a good child. I went to an all-white and performing arts school. I was the only Asian, so I was being picked on left and right where I got into fights there and where I came home beat up and went to the principal. My parents said, “You’re going into taekwondo.” I got my black belt when I was ten-and-a-half. I stood up to my bully and then that was the last time they picked on me. That’s how I grew up. Even though I wasn’t in the white suburbs, I went to an all-Hispanic and white school. I was still being picked on because I was the only one that’s the minority.

Crazy Rich Asians: One stereotype that broke was to have Asian leading men and all those handsome guys that were well-spoken, smart, and doing great things in the world.

Kimchi: Only Kirk and Baldwin are married. Dan and Long are still single. My question is when you saw the interaction between these married couples in the movie, like Eleanor and Phillip, which we did not see, Phillip is Nick’s father, Eleanor is Nick’s mom, Astrid and Michael, their wealthy cousin, and Eddie and Fiona, what does it remind you of, that interaction in their marriage? The way they show in the movie, Phillip, who is Nick’s father, was traveling offshore somewhere to do business and let the mom stay home and took care of everything. Astrid is very wealthy and she loved jewelry. She buys it and then she hides it from her husband. Eddie and Fiona, Eddie is the show-off and he likes stuff, and Fiona didn’t care much. What does it remind you of?

Baldwin: This reminds me how different everyone is. We can look the same, we can come from similar backgrounds, but the outcome is always different because we are all individuals. Hollywood tends to forget that about Asians, they think we’re all the same. That was the great part of this film. It was showing couples that may appear the same on the outside but like in America, like in the rest of the world, it doesn’t matter if we look the same. Inside, we’re all different. We all have different perspectives. We all have different things that influenced us differently and affect our decision-making. You can have three totally different types of marriages even though it might seem like they should all be pretty much the same. That’s why I thought of that. That’s why I thought it was good. Hollywood needs to see that about our community, is that we may all look the same. We might even have similar backgrounds of going to college or whatever, academia but we are all different. That’s the important thing to remember in a relationship and in the way we’re portrayed in Hollywood.

Dan: That is what the film did is it broke all these cultural stereotypes. I don’t know how many times people have been like, “He’s Chinese or Japanese,” and I’m neither one. It’s the difference between French and English or English and German or French and German. It’s a completely different culture. In this film, they had Astrid. Asian women are typically characterized in films as being quiet. They put their head down and say, “Yes.” They’re the obedient, passive types. You had Astrid in there who was this mogul. She has her fashion line, she’s beautiful, she was kicking ass and she was powerful. That was one stereotype that I saw broke and just to have Asian leading men and all those handsome guys on there who were well-spoken, smart and doing great things in the world. They have these different characters, some were funny, some were living the party life, and some were serious about work and business. To see all those different characters, to break that cultural norm of like, “Aren’t you all the same?” It warmed my heart to see that. Thanks a lot for bringing that up.

Kirk: I totally agree with Dan, same with Baldwin. It was refreshing to see different relationship dynamics. These are real dynamics that easily show up with jealousy, with working too much, with secrecy, by not communicating. These are real relationships. Does it matter what class or where we come from, that we’re all going to have these different relationships challenges?

Long: I love the fact of how it breaks all the cultural stereotypes. It makes me think about humanity. It doesn’t matter what race you are, whether it’s Asian, whether it’s black, whether it’s Hispanics, we’re all humans. It’s all about humanity. We all have our different flaws and we all have our strengths. We can’t put each other in a box to be able to elevate each other. It’s all about how we speak to each other and how we elevate each other to elevate humanity in general, to love each other to grow rather than picking on each other, bringing hate, putting ourselves in a box where you’re a certain culture, you’re a certain race, you’re a certain gender. This is how you should be. It’s about how we treat each other, raise humanity and taking that to a different level.

Kimchi: Do you believe that wealth could undermine or damage the relationship between the couple because one of them would feel that they are not good enough or they’re not worthy?

Long: I don’t believe that wealth will undermine. The way I see things is that you have challenges and issues that you have within yourself. If you don’t work through those, money is not going to do anything different. The money will treat a bad person with bad intentions in the same way as it would treat a good person with good intentions. Money doesn’t discriminate. The one thing is it’s all about your character. It’s about who you are. It’s about working through the challenges that you have within you. If you don’t go through those challenges and work through those challenges, you’re always going to carry that with you.

Baldwin: It can but it’s because of what wealth or least a difference in wealth in a relationship, what it does is it heightens the problems that already exist there. Somehow our culture, society, or the way people treat money and wealth. It does something to us psychologically, I believe that it heightened something that’s already there. Let’s say you’re all the same level and you have problems. You feel you can work it out a little bit more because you feel you’re more on an equal playing field. Let’s say you have problems already and then you have one that’s uber-wealthy and one that’s not. Now you’re talking about that disparity is getting bigger and bigger. Unless you have strong communication, unless you’ve got strong ways of understanding where people’s insecurities might be, then you’re going to have a problem. You have to work a lot harder about those types of relationships and recognize that those disparities get heightened.

Kirk: In therapy, when you’re doing couples therapy, the three biggest crises are the conflicts of money, sex and children. I don’t think necessarily wealth, but money in general. With any couple, money creates such a value system. It’s important for couples to talk about what their values around money, about spending and saving. Otherwise, no matter how much money you have, you’re going to have conflicts.

Kimchi: For Asian women, we tend to marry up. We marry the man who has more than us, either they are richer than us, smarter than us, or whatever. Just better, so we marry up. For men, they marry down because they don’t want the wife to exceed them in terms of wealth, the smart or the brain and things like that. Most of the time when the woman is richer or smarter than the man, it damages the man’s ego. That could add to the relationship. 

Baldwin: What Kirk says jives with what everyone is saying here is that it’s your value system. If money is your determination of value, then yes. There’s something that Phil Cooke says. He’s a writer and a film producer. He works a lot in the entertainment industry. He’s an author. One of the things he said in his book is, “Your value is determined by your ability to solve somebody’s problem.” Rather than having our value in how much money we make or how sexual you are or if you have a family and you’ve got kids or how many kids do you want, those are the three things Kirk was saying is the most important things in a family makeup. If those are your value system, then maybe you might have a problem. If your value system within your family, within your marriage is, “How can I make you better? How can I become better because of you? How can we grow our family so that my child is better and we’re solving people’s problems? I’m solving your problem. You’re solving mine. I’m solving my child’s. We’d go out and we’d collect it. We try to solve the problems of other people realizing that we’re not the center of attention.” That’s the only way you can overcome large disparities of wealth or the other two topics that Kirk was talking about as well.

Kirk: It’s interesting culturally too. As women’s salaries start to increase, it’s making a huge cultural shift and it’s for the good. Kimchi, what you’re saying before those women were probably marrying up because men, for decades or centuries, were the breadwinners. Now there are a lot of women who now are the bread earners. Our cultural values are shifting. I’m hearing a lot of my female friends that are dating men that don’t make as much and that they’re wondering that it doesn’t feel good for them. There are all different expressions. I’ve heard what’s happening culturally in Japan how women are making more money and they have a lot of independence. They’re like, “Why do we need men? We don’t need them anymore.” There are not a lot of relationships and their population is dropping. I definitely believe that there should be equality as far as economically in income between men and women. This is good because it’s then having us have a conversation about our values and about our roles. Now, something new has to emerge.

Crazy Rich Asians: For decades or centuries, men were the breadwinners. Now there are a lot of women who now are the bread earners. Our cultural values are shifting.

Kimchi: That’s one of the reasons that more women choose to stay single. When they are pretty well off, they have a good job or they inherit wealth from the family, they choose to stay single and not marry. It’s because of the perception of why would they need to cook, clean and serve the men? That’s happening a lot in Asia, Japan, Taiwan, even in America too. You see more and more single women.

Long: With the internet and all these social media sites and the connection is broken. What I’m seeing is that people aren’t connecting anymore. I’m not just talking about females and males and relationships where there’s a gap with wealth or anything. It’s just connections in general. Many people are taking social media for granted, where a short, simple text is good enough. Reality is it should be more about connecting in person, having that emotional connection with people and being connected because that’s what humanity is all about. If you’re on an isolated island, you’re going to be bored and that’s not being human. Overall, the connection of people is getting spread out and getting diminished that people aren’t connecting anymore.

This is the reason why females are deciding to say, “I’m going to be single,” and so are males. It’s because we’re not going out there and connecting with people. Money comes in different currencies. Currencies come in different forms. It could be energy. It could be the love, the emotions and the friendship. There are many different ways and it’s just not about the money and the finances, but we’re not connecting anymore. That’s the biggest challenge is being able to connect with people. Going deeper than just being in the shallow and talking about shallow stuff and about how’s the weather and things like that. It’s about going deep.

Baldwin: For me and my wife, we’ve been married for over ten years, coming up on eleven. For all of our relationship, she was full-time in the entertainment industry. I was working in the entertainment, but I was the one that said, “I got to pay the bills.” I worked. I was pretty successful in doing engineering. I was the breadwinner. In the back of my mind, I was like, “This should shift because my wife is brilliant. She’s this amazing, artistic person that if she wasn’t Asian then she probably would have done something huge.” I was like, “We’re waiting for this shift.” I let go of my job so that we can work full-time entertainment. My wife is the one that’s getting more gigs now. It’s not the same disparate separation as when I was an engineer and she was working entertainment. She’s directing her film. She’s got more meetings. She’s working a lot more than I am. I’m like, “I’ll sit back and I’ll let you do that. I spent all day doing the dishes, cleaning and everything else. I had a great time doing that.” I was a little late because she got home just in time from the editor to able to take my daughter. I’m feeling like, “This is awesome that we get to flip this a little bit. Maybe we can flip it even more so. She can get that next audition or something to get it. Maybe we come up together.”

The reason why we’ve never cared about the disparity, the change, the differences is that our goal is greater than the money that we’re making. We need money to survive, but our goal is greater than that. I feel our goal is we are in the entertainment community because we’ve always since before we’ve met, wanted to create some change. We wanted to see us represented in a positive way, in a fair way, and in a way that normalizes their conversation. Now, our goal is to educate people in schools and museums and stuff like that. I feel the tension is off of us. We may be occasionally on stage or whatever being seen, but we don’t want the attention on us. We want the attention ultimately on our entire community. We want that in all different aspects and that’s what keeps us grounded as far as where our value system is monetary.

Kimchi: If the director wanted to cast you for the next Crazy Rich Asians, which role would you like to be in and why? Now is your chance.

Baldwin: I want to be Awkwafina’s guy friend. It could be whatever relationship you want. I want to be hooked up with Awkwafina. I want to be the hardworking, crazy, poor American that’s working in entertainment and working in the music industry. I and Awkwafina would totally get along because we don’t care about money, but what we care about is a love for hip-hop and proper representation within our culture. We would have all these crazy, funny dynamics between someone that’s wealthy, somebody that’s not wealthy. They come together for the same common goal of humor, getting along and trying to create some positive change.

Long: If I was to pick the cast on that, I would truly probably want to be in Nick’s shoes and be the main character. There are a lot of things that can be exposed. That can open up the doors to a lot of things to elevate and raise humanity not only from an Asian perspective but also from different other perspectives. Being in that role to be able to break the stereotypes and be able to know that other people are going through the same things is a position that I want to be to be able to elevate humanity.

Kirk: I loved Awkwafina’s role. That was liberating because my personality, my culture, being very refined, doing the right thing, saying the right things and be in that role just to let that other side of myself out. Being outlandish, dressing however I want and saying however I want, that would be so much fun to do. I do this privately and I’m trying to do that more publicly. That would be fun. Long, I liked your answer as well, being in the lead role of Nick’s character. What I would like to bring to the role is emotion and bringing in a spectrum of being touched, being moved, crying, anger in different ways. I want to see more expressions of men and masculinity and not just this hardness. Nick is a little one-dimensional for me. He’s good looking and has everything together. I want to see more struggles in his expression, in his emotions. Just to give one Asian man and men in general to see the scope of the different ways that we can express ourselves.

Dan: Nick was the secondary role to Rachel in the film. Having a film that focused on Nick or where the lead character was a male and less complex would be great to see. However, I’m going to change my vote and I want to be in Baldwin’s posse. He’d play that character. You broke my mind open with that whole role. I didn’t know we were talking about the second film. I want to be in Baldwin’s posse with Kirk, and we’ll be his two sidekicks. He’ll be laying down the wrap on the streets. Maybe some sunglasses and we’re raising hell on the streets. That’s what I vote for. I hope when John Chu reads this, we all get jobs and I’ll see you guys on the set.

Kimchi: In less than five words, how would you sum up this movie?

Kirk: Go see this movie.

Baldwin: I would say to sum up the movie is we’re not all the same.

Long: To sum it up would be breaking barriers.

Dan: I would say you’ll have a good time. It was a fun film. It was well-made. It was true to all the subtleties in Asian culture. They’ve got many little things right down to the matriarchal grandmother’s interactions with the daughter, to the food. They’ve got many subtleties right and it was authentic, that’s important. It was a great film. For anyone that didn’t catch any of those subtleties, it was a fun film. With the lines like the kids starving in America, it was fun all around. It was feel-good without being cheesy Hollywood. They put together a great storyline. I guess the book was already written, but the storyline was great. The shooting was great. The cinematography was fantastic. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll have a good time and that’s why it’s doing well.

That’s all the time that we have. Thank you, Kirk, Dan, Baldwin and Long for being on the Asian men’s panel and participating in this discussion. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoyed it too. For our listeners, what is your takeaway from this episode? Let us know your thoughts. If you enjoy reading this, please subscribe, review, rank and share this podcast. Share it on your social media and tell a friend. We appreciate your support.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Quotes

"Try to solve other people's problems. Realizing that you’re not the center of attention is the only way you can overcome large disparities."

"The reason why we've never cared about the disparity and differences is that our goal is greater than the money that we're making."

"The three biggest crises are the conflicts of money, sex, and children."

"The reason why females and males decide to be single is because we're not going out there and connecting with people."

"There should be equality as far as economically in income between men and women."

"Your value is determined by your ability to solve somebody's problem." - Phil Cooke


About Baldwin Chiu

Baldwin Chiu, aka: ONLY WON (pronounced like Only One) is the producer of the award-winning documentary film, “Finding Cleveland” about the little-known history of the early Chinese in Mississippi during segregation and the Chinese Exclusion Act. He is also an actor and a socially conscious Hip-Hop artist, known as “Only Won”, who raps about unconventional subjects like Dim Sum, God, & Thermodynamics. He has millions of views online with music videos like “I Wanna Be an Engineer”, “Cantonese Boy” and “12 Days of DIM SUM”. His music has also been featured in major films and hit video games. On the side, he is a professionally licensed engineer and has been a spokesperson for the White House engineering campaign “Stay With It” since 2012 where he uses creativity, hip-hop, videos and motivational speaking to encourage students to pursue STEM topics in school.
www.OnlyWon.com www.FindingCleveland.com
Twitter/Facebook/Youtube @OnlyWon
Instagram @OnlyWonMC

About kirk Akahoshi

Kirk Akahoshi is a licensed psychotherapist and executive life coach in San Francisco. He primarily works with men through one-on-one work, sacred circles, and wilderness retreats. He is ranked as one of the best coaches by Expert.com and also voted “Best of Yelp”. Kirk is a California native and has worked in Japan for 3 years, New York for 4 years, and traveled to over 25 countries. He continues to study and deepen his personal and professional life in psychology, spirituality, and self-development work.

About Dan Honer

Dan Horner has been a US Naval Officer, Wall St. Broker, Commercial Real Estate Agent and an Event Producer in the Alternative Health and Wellness and Spirituality space which he currently still does.

About Long Le

Long Le is a loyal, award achieving, a strategic business development consultant. With over 20+ years in Management & Leadership Development, he has been recognized with many accolades including the High Achiever Award, Highest Guest Experience Award, and Trip Crown Sales Award. Long has opened successful restaurants and stores with companies like Panda Express to the large big-box retail store such as Target. He developed many Leaders including 10% of Panda Express’s management team, in San Diego. He supported the development of many small businesses from Real Estate and Financial Brokers to large companies like Aflac and Triple-A.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Long loves learning, exciting activities, contributing to others success and meeting new people. He is a polite and a respectful San Diego native that graduated from SDSU with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Psychology. Long enjoys animals, hikes, shooting sports, problem-solving and living life. His values are integrity, loyalty, respect/win-win, relationships, and freedom. His vision is to connect the world, by transforming people’s personal and professional life from dead stuck to alive and inspired!

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