Oscar Night!

Oscars 2009 - Slumdog Millionaire Cast

Slumdog Millionaire Cast- Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto, Dev Patel at the Oscars (2009)

 The new face of America’s global cinema.

The Academy Awards aren’t generally a big night for Asian Americans — after all, there haven’t been many noteworthy Asian American wins, and little recognition given overall within the community. This year, with the dominance of Slumdog Millionaire, it was exciting to see Asian faces light up the screen. Despite the fact that the movie can hardly be considered “Asian American,” given its British crew and Indian locale, we’re crossing our fingers that its impact will nevertheless be felt throughout the Asian American entertainment world.

Some of the major arguments used by studios against casting Asian Americans in lead roles is that they are unheard of, or that mainstream audiences won’t come to see Asian actors. While we strongly disagree with the implication that Asian Americans aren’t part of “mainstream audiences”, or that there aren’t enough Asian Americans going to movie theaters to warrant Asian American faces or narratives (um, hello, the spending power of Asian Americans is predicted to be $528 billion this year…do you think they don’t spend that on media?), we now have a terrific counterargument for both claims. Slumdog has shown that mainstream audiences will devotedly pour into the theaters to see actors they have never heard of, and stories that take place a world away. As long as the storytelling is strong and the narrative is compelling, there is always room to expand our image of what an actor, or a mainstream film, should look like.

While the film is still potentially problematic for its glorification of third-world poverty and what may or may not be exploitation of its child actors, we gleefully applaud the recognition of a film that opens our doors to a new idea of what American cinema could be.

Posted on http://manaa.blogspot.com