As “South Park” predicted, leaving Twitter today is akin to death, and when a celebrity of any stature leaves the platform, various outlets must dig into the reasons. This weekend, “Iron Fist” lead Finn Jones left the notorious strangers-yelling-at-strangers platform after he was criticized for being a white man to take a white man’s role. You see, some had demanded that an Asian actor be cast for the role despite conflicts with the character’s backstory, because diversity.
— Dominic Patten (@DeadlineDominic) March 7, 2017
“Iron Fist” is Marvel’s latest Netflix endeavor, and this isn’t the first time Marvel has dealt with cries of racism for casting calls. On last year’s “Doctor Strange,” Tilda Swinton was cast in the role of The Ancient One, a Tibetan monk character from the comics. Swinton is not, in fact, Tibetan. She received a lot of social media and woke press backlash for taking the role, with charges of “white-washing.” Fortunately for Tilda, The Ancient One is a traditionally male character, so she at least got kudos for sex-swapping.
Jones is a white male, the most problematic breed of human, and was cast in a lead role in a new show. So naturally, as with any casting decision for major franchises today, he faced the usual complaints. Finn is playing Danny Rand, who is also known as Iron Fist, and the character is “problematic” for the social-justice-warrior crowd in a number of ways.
First off, his backstory is “white man goes to the Orient to master the martial arts and become a hero.” He’s also a corporatist in the vein of Tony Stark, and like Stark is just another straight white male. Prior to casting, the SJW activist types that litter the comics landscape were calling for an Asian actor to play the role. When the role eventually went to Jones, hand-wringing commenced. Surely the people hurling complaints at the show will end up watching it, just like they all turned out to see “Doctor Strange,” which made $232 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo—hardly a failure.
This past weekend, Jones got into it with Asyi Kinney, the creative director for Geeks of Color, who pried into the actor’s levels of wokeness. They were, obviously, not up to snuff (and they never are). Finn didn’t understand why his casting was problematic, and after his exchange with Kinney he left Twitter. She demanded he admit the role would have been better if an Asian were cast in it.
Iron Fist is such an ancillary character that, frankly, it doesn’t matter what race he is, so Marvel could have cast an Asian actor in the role. But they didn’t, for whatever reasons, and racism likely isn’t one. The character is originally a white man, for pete’s sake.
Besides, once an actor is cast, it’s too late to attack the actor who accepted the part. Is Finn supposed to admit he shouldn’t play a part that he’s accepted? Tilda is supposed to say, “You know what, my work is bankrupt”? Finn can take a role on a surefire Netflix hit that will also have him starring in Netflix’s soon-released “The Defenders” show, or pass on the role, paycheck, and massive popularity boost just to appease random people on the Internet? Come on.
Next Finn left Twitter, declaring “I’m currently in the middle of filming and I need to stay focused on bringing to life this character without judgment, so I decided to remove myself from Twitter for the time being.” His self-imposed exile lasted barely a weekend. He came back citing Riz Ahmed’s claim that not having enough representation in movies and TV shows makes people turn into ISIS.
One reason SJWs are so ridiculous is their tendency to eat their own. Clearly Finn is just as big a progressive as you could ever hope for, but it seems no matter how much you bend the knee to the cause, if you’re a white male you’ll never quite regret your skin color enough.
Reviews of the show have just begun to come out. The main criticism Anjelica Oswald could muster was “one interaction between Colleen and Danny that sticks in my mind and highlights the biggest problem with the series — casting a white lead.” She even goes on to admit that the show “is filled with diverse and talented stars, but there was a chance to take the story further, and Marvel failed to do so when choosing to stick with the white guy as the lead.”
This will mark the first time Marvel really feels a critical wringer. Unfortunately, most of the noise will likely be focused on casting a white guy to play a white guy rather than Marvel’s constant failings in pacing and retreads of the same old “hero origin,” muddied motivations, confusing villain machinations, and overly melodramatic performances.
If the woke activists and critics want to actually cause change, they should stop focusing on characters’ races and make the case that it’s simply a bad show. Harping on scenes one’s hypersensitivity has made problematic is not a compelling argument.
Perhaps discuss how the show fails to present an interesting character arc and retreads ground audiences have seen umpteen times. Talk about how the action is poorly shot, the villains are just more faceless ninja guys without clear motivations, and the show falls apart under the weight of dealing with continuity and setup. These criticisms would make viewers actually not tune in. The other just make people want to watch out of spite.