Pakistani American comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani was nominated for an Oscar alongside his wife, Emily V. Gordon, for The Big Sick in the ‘Original Screenplay’ category.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 23, 2018
The Big Sick is a semi-autobiographical romantic-comedy based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. It follows Pakistani-born Kumail (Nanjiani), an aspiring stand up comedian in New York City, and graduate student Emily (Kazan), who encounters Nanjiani during one of his stand up sets. The film explores the nuances of dating through the intersectional lenses of race and culture. “Meeting the parents” is intertwined with Muslim traditions and White American values, making the Big Sick a tribute to the complexities of contemporary interracial relationships.
Geo Television emphasized the importance of a “Pakistani comedian in post-9/11 America.” The film was released in the US “at a time when there’s a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment, there’s a lot of Islamaphobia,” Nanjiani explained in an earlier Geo TV interview.
“By depicting a Muslim family as like normal people, that’s a big political statement,” Nanjiani told Reuters. Through their film, Nanjiani also aimed to normalize interracial relationships, expressing, “Really, it’s just a love story.”
Since their nomination this morning, the couple has received a plethora of support from fans on Twitter, the Tribune reported. In response to their success, the pair plans to celebrate with pastries, The Wrap reported. “We like to celebrate with pastries. That’s a big celebration for us. Like a big disgusting meal and pastries,” said Gordon.
However, despite the success of The Big Sick, the media demands more. Since #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that took social media by storm in 2016, many are keen to report the continual marginalization of minorities by the Academy. Following the release of the 2018 Oscar Nomination list, the Huffington Post wrote “There Are Literally No Asians or Latinos Nominated For Acting Oscars This Year.” In addition, the Huffington Post bemoaned the Oscars’ snub of Vietnamese American Hong Chau whose performance in Downsizing has amassed multiple best supporting actress nominations.
The Academy has historically overlooked Asian and Latino actors, the Huffington Post emphasized. This year is no different. Hollywood continues to have a representation problem.
Nanjiani explains why diversity in the media matters. “It’s important for kids to see themselves in the stuff they watch. But more than that, I think it’s important that people from different points of view are behind the camera telling the stories, writing them, directing them,” Nanjiani told Reuters. As Geo TV reported, The Big Sick along with Get Out and Wonder Woman are starting to challenge the White, male-dominance of Hollywood. The support of these films demonstrates that mainstream US audiences are “willing to pay to see films with minority leads,” paving the expectation for greater representation in Hollywood in films to come.
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our Facebook page and our Twitter feed, Please consider interning, joining our staff or submitting a story for consideration.