But this isn't just about glossy magazine covers. The last time a major studio released a film featuring a largely east Asian American cast was 1993's Joy Luck Club. That was 25 years ago. As Vanity Fair notes, these movies rarely get made.
Author Michael Lewis successfully sold the film rights of his book Flash Boys but production on the film stalled.
"There were e-mails back and forth about how impossible it was to make a movie with an Asian lead. The problem was Brad Katsuyama,” Michael Lewis told Vanity Fair. “They don’t think there’s a well enough known Asian male actor. Which I think is crazy.”
If you buy into the Hollywood urban legend that audiences only want to watch white casts, then guess again. A UCLA study found that television series and films that more accurately reflect America's diversity actually perform better than their white-washed counterparts.
"Reports in this series have repeatedly found that films and television shows with casts attuned to America’s diversity tend to register the highest global box office figures and viewer ratings. The industry appears to have finally embraced the idea that America’s increasingly diverse audiences demand film and television content populated with characters whose experiences resonate with their own, who look like them, and with whom they can relate.”
While these covers should fill any American with joy, we can't let this be a fleeting moment.
The success of films like Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther, and Moonlight can be easily dismissed by Hollywood decision makers as anomalies, especially when diverse movies like Ghostbusters, The Last Jedi, or A Wrinkle In Time aren't instant runaway hits or garner critical acclaim. Movies with nonwhite people, women, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community, deserve the same amount of chances movies without them get.
What the success of nonwhite movies shows is that Hollywood often underestimates the progressiveness of their audiences. This is one of a few times where I will say white people deserve a little more credit when it comes to a desire for diverse perspectives. Moreover, if Hollywood intends to keep raking in billions of dollars of revenue once the comic franchise fever dies down, they're going to have to respect the spending power and needs of every American.
Until then, we will rally around every morsel or nugget we get because we never know when the next one is coming. So go see Crazy Rich Asians this weekend!