What do you think of people saying Iron Fist is racist? I honestly don't understand where it's coming from, since Danny is white in the comic books, I would call it being faithful to the original. I really just wanted to understand, but I've asked a few other people here on tumblr and everybody has been really aggressive about it.
First, I should state that I am white, so my opinion and perspective on this subject is limited and should be taken with a grain of salt.
I think to describe the show simply as “racist” is unhelpful when explaining the nuance of problematic elements in a show, which there are many.
Is Iron Fist perfect? No. Are there problems and issues with diversity and cultural appropriation? Absolutely. But it takes some parsing to understand just where the problems are in the show.
People saying casting Finn Jones as Danny Rand is “whitewashing” is incorrect. The comic book character is a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man. However. The origins of Iron Fist in the comics is absolutely whitewashing and cultural appropriation. The character took elements of Chinese culture, the popularity of kung fu in the 70′s specifically, and gave them to a white person. To say the Iron Fist character origins were whitewashed in order to make him more alluring to a white audience is absolutely true. To say casting Finn Jones in the role of Danny Rand is whitewashing is not true.
This post explains it better than I can.
Some folks have stated that Claire Temple and Colleen Wing’s character arcs were overshadowed by their roles of “helping the White man on his journey.” That is another criticism that needs to be explored (especially because these criticisms were made by women of color). I personally thought Colleen and Claire were strong characters, but I did notice Colleen’s independence and fierceness seemed to diminish after she was made the love interest. And Claire’s character may have been pushed to the side in ways I can’t see, because again, I’m white.
So if you want to say Iron Fist is “racist” in that most White-led TV shows today lack diversity and fully developed characters of color, you can definitely make that argument because it’s certainly a pervasive problem in today’s media. But I think the statement can and should be explored with more detail, rather than a blanket statement. And to dismiss the show as being completely unwatchable because of it isn’t entirely fair or warranted. But I’m white, so I don’t get to decide what is and isn’t racist in media.
After the bullshit that was casting Scarlett Johansson as Major in Ghost in the Shell, I can see why people are tired of white folks being cast in Asian roles. It’s a problem, and it’s been a problem for decades. And I admit, seeing a white person cast as Danny Rand was a disappointment to me too at first. But considering how much of a dumbass Danny is for most of the show, I’ve come to the realization that it’s probably best he was cast as a white guy. (As @aquahogcodes said in their post here, Asians deserve better characterization.)
Of course, that begs the question, is bad representation worse than no representation at all? I don’t know, and I’m definitely not the person equipped to tackle that question.
I think dismissing the show as racist also hurts the actors involved. Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple’s actor) is an outspoken activist in her personal life, and she’s one of the few celebrities I look to as a role model. Madame Gao is just fucking awesome, and how often do you see an older woman of color in a mainstream show? And Colleen Wing. Her fight scenes would actually get my blood pumping, and I enjoyed them much more than Danny’s. I loved all three of them so much, and can’t wait to see them in Defenders.
In conclusion, I think Iron Fist gets way more hate than it deserves despite it having some legitimate issues and problems. And despite elements of the show being problematic, it doesn’t make you a bad person for watching it. I love Iron Fist. But I can enjoy it while also acknowledging it’s not perfect and it has a lot of problems that I can hope will be addressed in future seasons.
I hope that answered your question, anon!