In 2007 I took a trip to Singapore for an IBM brand strategy project I was working on and remember not loving it there. I was living in NYC at the time so thought nothing could compare. I jokingly referred to the island city-state off southern Malaysia as "Singa-snore." It wasn't for me with all its rules (No spitting. No gum on the street.) - which they even joke about on the tacky tourist t-shirts at the airport. I was from NYC - I was a rule breaker, not a rule follower.
The only part of Singapore I remember liking was Little India - with all its Hindu temples and authentic Indian food everywhere youwent. But all that's changed after seeing Crazy Rich Asians last night.
If you haven't seen it yet (and it's topping the box office currently), it squarely fits in the rom-com genre. But besides the central romantic relationship in the movie, it's actually a love story about Singapore. It romanticises the food, the architecture, the nature and (some of) the people. I was salivating over the hawker food market scene even though I was painfully full from having dinner just before the movie. When the main character mentions some vendors are Michelin-rated chefs, it puts your local food truck to shame.
When I visited in 2007, the Marina Bay Sands was probably just a hole in the ground. Now, I'm obsessed with the idea of swimming at the top in its infinity pool:
Who knows what kind of set-up there was between Singapore's tourism body, film industry and the producers of the movie, but they must all be pretty pleased with the result and likely boon for visitors. The best part is, you won't leave the theatre thinking you have to be 'crazy rich' to enjoy Singapore - but you would be crazy to not be more curious and excited about Singapore than you were before you walked in.
In that way, Crazy Rich Asians definitely counts as RADvertising for Singapore.