Well, lovers of the Zoo, do we have a lot to talk about.
But before we even begin, lemme start by saying this:
Listen y’all. I shall never forget where I was when the review embargo on Iron Fist was lifted on March 8th, 2017 and everyone within a 250-mile radius with a pen and a computer ripped it a new asshole.
In fact, I was in my bed, wiping the sleep boogers from my eyes when—all of a sudden at 9:50 am the Fire Nation attacked my phone blew the hell up.
And this is all that I saw:
Which again, brought me to this point:
Of course, I could spend this entire post laughing my ass off, but that’s not the point. Nah.
Let’s talk about how most these critical reviews of Iron Fist are coming from White critics and mainstream outlets.
This is rather notable for several reasons:
1. How about that canon now?
The biggest defense that Dougs™ and Chets™ could offer with regards to Great Value Oliver Queen™ being cast as Danny Rand was canon.
Which was often times followed by red-in-the-face fanboys screaming that Danny was White and that he should remain White and that there was nothing wrong with him being White and that you were a fucking SJW racist if you didn’t think so.
So, imagine the look on my face this morning when many of these same reviews pointed out that Marvel’s staunch refusal to deviate from canon in this instance was one of the things that did the show in.
By all intents and purposes, Canon Correct Danny™ has been called boring, uninspiring, unrealistic, inauthentic, and offensive.
Y’all already know how I feel about canon and how I believe its just a way for nerdy racists to assert their perceived dominance over fans and femmes of color. But still, even if I were to strip that element away from it, here’s the thing:
Canon gets stale and canon can have oppressive and problematic roots (as Iron Fist does).
But you know what else canon can do? Well…it can change.
And if you’re no Doug™ or Chet™, you should be encouraging it to change, not blindly adhering to it like it is the be all end all to every nerdy thing over. I mean, where’s the fun in that if we can’t shake things up?
2. If White critics are leading the dragging of the equally White Iron Fist, how are Doug™ and Chet™ supposed to blame PC culture and reverse racism now?
I’ve been following the great #AAIronFist debate for about two or three years now. Keith Chow put the Twitterverse onto it in 2014 and ever since then, the concept has refused to fade into the shadows.
With good reason. As it would have added so much more to the show.
Of course, the legion of Dougs™ and Chets™ did not see it that way. They saw it as an attack on their livelihoods and all they held dear and harassed the fuck out of you if you didn’t agree with them. I’ve been called everything but a child of Black Jesus™ fucking with Iron Fist stans these last couple of years. I have been called racist (lol) and bigoted (EL OH EL) and have had my comic knowledge clocked at every turn (because fake geek girls, amirite?)
All this is all because I (and AAPI folx greater and smarter than me) dared to entertain the idea that Iron Fist would be more inclusive with an Asian/Asian-American lead.
So, imagine the sheer vindication BGN Twitter and Asian Twitter felt yesterday when critical tweets upon critical tweets rolled out, highlighting how out of place Shrimp Noodle Head Timberlake™ was in the show and how it contributed to the “inauthenticity” of the series.
Prior to this, every criticism of Iron Fist’s racist and trope-y pitfalls was met with cries of reverse racism and PC culture…obviously because said comments were coming from people of color themselves. But now that the chief detractors in this case are respected and seasoned [White] critics…does that defense still hold up?
No. No it doesn’t.
On the contrary, this merely exposes the fact that “reverse racism” and “PC culture” are farces and are terms that merely exist for insecure White men to wield against people of color when we say something they don’t like.
3. As delighted and amused as I am, this is a reminder that criticism or dissent of any kind in this country is not counted as legitimate unless it is cosigned by a White person.
To be clear, dissent from any marginalized group is never legitimized until it is consigned by a member of the oppressing class.
But in this case, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?
While it’s nice to see critics catching on to what fans of color have been saying since the idea to adapt Iron Fist into a TV show was in the ether, it has been very interesting to see who finally came around to the idea that maybe, just maybe, going with White Savior Danny Rand™ wasn’t a good idea. It’s fascinating to see who jumped on this particular bandwagon as soon as the critics finally gave the okie doke.
Mind you, these are the same people who told us, people of color, that we were overreacting. That we should be giving this tired trope “a chance”. That the team behind Iron Fist was somehow gonna use this offensive ass trope to “subvert” the show.
But now that the reviews are in, suddenly everyone “gets it”. Everyone is now a seasoned student on why cultural appropriation is bad and why #AAIronFist might have been the answer after all.
Naturally, this is all because no one gave a damn until these same criticisms came out of a White person’s mouth. This caused these criticisms to suddenly become more “logical”.
And as per usual, the lived experiences of marginalized folx (AAPI folx in this case) once again came second to the “logic” of White folx.
That said, despite the hypocrisy, there is an upside. As I mentioned before, one of the premier criticisms of Iron Fist is how the White Savior trope that manifests itself in Danny Rand and takes the viewer (the critic in this case) out of the show.
This trend is very different from past run-ins with Whitewashing and appropriation in regards to the Asian/AAPI narratives and cultures.
Doctor Strange and Ghost In The Shell were the biggest examples from the past year. Most articles and/or reviews that discussed the castings of Tilda Swinton (as the Ancient One) and Scarlett Johansson (as The Major) either dismissed the criticism of their involvement in these productions as “outrage culture” or claimed that their status as [White] women somehow excused the racism stemming from their casting (this is not shocking since everyone and their mama always rushes to cape for White women).
To put it simply: the real concerns of AAPI folx on particular were dismissed as “outrage culture” and rendered unimportant.
The Great Wall was slightly different in that a. no one likes Matt Damon (I don’t even think Matt Damon likes Matt Damon) and b. White fanboys really thought they had achieved checkmate status when they discovered that The Great Wall was being director by a Chinese director and defended the donkey’s ass of a film by saying that it was technically not appropriation or that Zhang Yimou’s involvement eliminated the White Savior factor.
While this was eventually proven to be false, that didn’t stop plenty of folx from caping for Matt and the film, once again dismissing legitimate criticisms from AAPI folx as “outrage culture”.
Still. Considering these gross examples of narrative colonialism and Columbusing, it is very important that the miscasting of Danny as a boho-weak™, Tae-Bo fighting, Artisanal cheese-making White boy has taken center stage in most of these reviews.
While it is slow (too slow in my opinion), it does appear that there is a shift happening. Of course, there is the question what exactly is causing this shift.
Is it that “outrage culture” is suddenly becoming en vogue to “well-meaning” White folx who wanna show off their rebellious streak (read: RESIST!)? Or does it have more to do with the fact that the powers that be are finally realizing that people of color (and other marginalized folx) are not gonna sit on our asses while our stories are stolen from right under us and shat on right before their eyes?
The world may never know.
But as for me? I’ll take “people of color are done taking your shit” for 300, Alex.
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