Asian Representation in Hollywood and how EEAAO was impactful
Everything Everywhere All At Once (EEAAO) is a movie that has been seen everywhere recently following it’s release in early 2022, long before its various wins in the Oscars; yielding an extreme impact to Asian representation in Western media. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, distributed by A24, this movie follows a Evelyn Wang and her abrupt confrontation with the various multiverses presented to her. This movie experimented and used vivid colours, bizarre objects, and a catchy plot to get their audiences attention which most certainly worked. EEAAO is estimated to be the most awarded film of all time, winning 7 Oscars and approximately being awarded more than 300 nominations and honors. Now its easy to beg the question, why was it so successful?
Other than being an extremely beautifully produced film which was able to encompass its meaning in a playful and never seen before manner, many people were able to relate to the Wang family. This movie hit close to home for many Asian Americans and immigrants as it encapsulates the complex and raw relationships of Evelyn with her daughter Joy as well as her husband Waymond. We follow Evelyn throughout the film and see how she regrets all of the major decisions she made, constantly stressed and going on a downward spiral. Perfectly said by Nerd Initiative, “From seeing Evelyn leaving China to come to America with Waymond to struggling to build a close relationship with Joy, to losing love for Waymond for his weakness of being too kind, to her tough relationship with her father which is where the intergenerational trauma that exists, I was sobbing. Evelyn’s journey was reflective of my own mom’s experiences and the emotions I have seen or heard from her.” We see Evelyns struggle and pressure she feels to be an immigrant mother as well as the effects it has on her daughter, this whole narrative and the open conversations this movie provides is the first to do so in Hollywood; leading many to be ecstatic for its success and impact on the industry.
We also see a great amount of representation in the casting with the main characters being Michelle Yeoh who is Malaysian and most supporting actors being Asian American. Forcing the industry to change and implement proper diversity casting for future works, something that wasn’t always possible. There have always been controversies surrounding casting white actors for Asian roles like Emma Stone in “Aloha” and Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell”, both Asian characters. This has been a recurring problem as long as the industry begun.
Due to fears of the Chinese “overstaying” their welcome in the USA once they immigrated in the 1800’s, a huge intolerance begun towards them. Especially in media, the Chinese were ridiculed and excluded, as well as having them play harmful stereotypes; being labelled as heroin addicts and degenerates. They even went as far as no longer casting them in movies because it wasn’t seen as profitable. One evident example is Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s where the white actor went as far as drastically changing his appearance and engaging in grand caricatures. Many other examples can be named such as Katharine Hepburn in “Dragon Seed”, Christopher Lee in “The Face of Fu Manchu”, and Peter Ustinov in “Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon”.
Times have changed and the industry has been proven wrong, as they believed POC stories would not generate box office hits and yet it brough 140 million USD worldwide and a plethora of awards. Everything Everywhere All At Once helped concretize the fact that representation matters and is equally as important to prioritise POC-led movies. They even establish a greater possibility of less biased casting for future films. EEAO helps breaks the stigma that was used against Asians for decades.