Pari Dukovic's Seemingly Unlikely Man of the Year for GQ
Henry Golding didn’t expect to be one of GQ’s Men of the Year. When the Crazy Rich Asians star started the year, he was following the typical grind of a Hollywood actor, trying to break out of the roster of auditioning talent and make an impression on directors and producers. He couldn’t know that his movie that released this summer would be the biggest rom-com release of the last decade and turning from a Malaysian TV host to an international leading man. That shock of career lines up perfectly with Pari Dukovic’s signature shock of color that makes his work so eminently recognizable. The power in Pari’s work comes not only from a technical mastery but also the energy injected through the host of hues he employs, and for Golding it adds a level of timelessness. Which is not ironic – it’s fitting.
We shouldn’t talk around what’s made Crazy Rich Asians such a phenomenon. Sure, it’s based on a best-selling book series, had a great script, and was directly deftly with an incredible cast. But it’s also the proof to American audiences that Asian stories are worth telling (and to American studios that Asian actors can lead huge films). As we wait for Hollywood to catch up, we must grapple with the fact that our culture has systematically left Asian voices and faces out of our canon. The images that Pari created with GQ for this year’s Men of the Year story with Golding are immediately contemporary, but carry with them references and a feeling of the 60s and 70s, a time of huge image making that was focused on white faces. In a way, Pari is helping us all to catch up. As we move forward into a culture that represents all people, Pari gets to play with retro aesthetics and reconfigure our collective archive to include those who should have been included from the start.