In a rare occasion in which we turn to the magazine writer himself rather than his article, let’s take some time to appreciate Variety’s Peter Debruge who recently wrote a seemingly a run-of-mill review of the new film, 21 and Over starring Justin Chon, Miles Teller, and Skylar Austin.
But, notice his ever-so-slight pointing out of the “unfortunate Chinese stereotype” portrayed in the film and the way in which Debruge takes the time to point out the specific ethnicities of “Korean-American […] Justin Chon” and “Cambodia-born Francois Chau.”
The criticism usually goes, the casting of Asians for films are careless because there is the tendency to group all Asians together and cast different ethnicities because of their racial appearance. This may then prompt stereotypes that all Asians are the same, or that all Asians must fit within a certain paradigm (like the conservative freshly-turned 21-year-old Jeff Chang in this particular film). And maybe Mr. Debruge is just a really detail-oriented man who wasn’t thinking about all this stuff when writing his article. But, let’s just say he did because God knows we need more writers like him to point Hollywood out on their shi*.
Perhaps these little parenthetical notes don’t mean anything to the average reader, but to the keen eyes of Generasian staff, they do and we certainly appreciate it. We don’t know who you are, Peter Debruge, but thanks anyway.
On another note, our editor Patrick attended the screening of 21 and Over last night and stuck around for the Q&A with the main cast. And I quote, from an exciting text message thread we shared after the screening:
"Some Asian guy was grilling Justin on how the movie is racist"
"[Justin Chon] said his character is not good at studying so it is going against stereotypes."
Not sure if we buy your argument, Mr. Chon, or maybe we do. We’re not going to take any sides here, so maybe you should see for yourself. As Mr. Debruge puts it, it’s a big bag of “dumb-fun.”