If what characterizes Asian American radical politics in 2020 is an articulation of the difference between, and interrelatedness of, the Asian diasporic elite and the migrant poor, the 2018 Asian American films Crazy Rich Asians and Searching achieved mainstream success by celebrating the emergence of the former. The media paratexts of Crazy Rich Asians used race-consciousness as putative resistance, engendering “messianic visibility”—an over-investment in cinematic identification as possessing transformative, even curative, political and personal potential for liberal cisheteronormativity. Meanwhile, Searching's marketing as a film not about race was a significant talking point in the U.S. press. Its colormuteness functioned to normalize the entanglement of Asian diasporic elites in the ranks of Silicon Valley's digital empire. The films’ lack of friction in relation to surveillance capitalism and neoliberal empire ultimately highlights the contradictions of race and/as resistance in the present moment.
The Bourgeois Cinema of Boba Liberalism
Melissa Phruksachart is LSA Collegiate Fellow in the Department of Film, Television, and Media at the University of Michigan. She received a PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research and teaching centers upon the cultural politics of Asian American film, television, and media; women of color and transnational feminist epistemologies; and the political economy of diversity and multiculturalism. Her work can be found in Camera Obscura, Amerasia Journal, and Feminist Media Studies.
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Melissa Phruksachart; The Bourgeois Cinema of Boba Liberalism. Film Quarterly 1 March 2020; 73 (3): 59–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2020.73.3.59
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