Why Crazy Rich Asians could have been more problematic in China

Warner Bros breathed a sigh of relief recently when it was confirmed that regulators would not block the launch of Crazy Rich Asians in China. Why would a film like this have caused concern in the first place? I can think of one reason.

In Capital In The 21st Century, French economist Thomas Piketty writes of the way fiction can shine a light on how a society perceives itself. Just as Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice and Victor Hugo's Les Miserables cast into brilliant relief the inequality in Europe in the 19th century, author Kevin Kwan's novel Crazy Rich Asians highlights a similar theme in Asia in the 21st. In telling the stories of women and men of modest backgrounds who try to secure economic and social betterment, all three works pose a common question: Is social mobility a myth?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline 'Why Crazy Rich Asians could have been more problematic in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe