This is not a “hot take” (The phrase makes me shudder, because it implies thoughtlessness and chasing social media metrics). Having written about the Iron Fist trailer, it would be remiss to ignore, or fail to mention, more of the impact online talk and discussion about Iron Fist has had on viewers of diverse backgrounds, specifically Asian American audiences, and Asian audiences worldwide.
This post is selected sections from a report of what happened written by E. Alex Yung for Vulture.com, and a reblog of Asyiqin Haron’s writing from Geeks of Colour – Why Iron Fist Danny Rand Should Be Asian-American. This post is intended to promote inclusive, diverse film and writing by sharing writing from diverse creators.
Well, we can’t all be woke white bros. Finn Jones, the star of Netflix and Marvel’s upcoming superhero production Iron Fist, quit Twitter this weekend after getting into a debate about race and representation with Asyiqin Haron, the creative director of Geeks of Color. The whole thing started when Jones tweeted out Riz Ahmed’s speech to the Parliament about representation with an Upworthy-esque headline: “Representation is important. and here’s why.” The tweet raised eyebrows because Jones didn’t seem to recognize the irony that his upcoming role as Danny Rand in Iron Fist is yet another story of white exceptionalism: White guy goes to Asia, learns a martial art, and is better than the people he learned it from. Hi-ya!
While the character in the comic book is also white, the casting around Iron Fist stirred controversy because it seemed like a missed opportunity to cast an Asian person in the role rather than rehash a tired narrative. (In fact, actor Lewis Tan, who is on the show, has said that he was also up for the part.) Haron, who has previously written about why Iron Fist should be Chinese-American, engaged in a conversation about race and representation with Jones on Twitter. When Jones wrote that the show was “the most diverse” one out of the Marvel-Netflix bunch, she replied, “That’s great and all but you do see why Danny Rand being white is problematic right?”
The full report from Yung at the Vulture also contains screen caps of the relevant tweets.
Asyiqin Haron’s article: Why Iron Fist Danny Rand Should Be Asian-American discusses several key points: Asian audience don’t need to see more white saviours, it would bring more depth to the character, Asian characters knowing martial arts is not [necessarily] a stereotype, and white versions of Iron Fist already exist in the source material.
That’s two articles, and there are many others. Checking on the #AAIronfist hashtag on twitter also gives an insight into how Iron Fist has impacted Asian American audiences, and Asian audiences worldwide.