23 March 2017 | tone_e2000
Stop being offended on my behalf
Cultural appropriation: a phrase that is never too far from a press review of Iron Fist. It's also what I'm focusing on here, rather than the questions about this show's pacing and editing (for the record, I think it's great).
Should a white man be playing the Iron Fist? That's the big question on the lips of many a film critic. And the answer, in my humble opinion, is 'Sure, why not?' After all, the character was white in the first place.
Is that 'cultural appropriation'? I guess so. But what's it's not is a problem, and I say that as a person of East Asian descent. There is simply nothing wrong with white people doing kung-fu, just as there's nothing wrong with a white person rapping or, indeed, a Chinese person wearing a baseball cap, while eating a Big Mac and singing Sweet Home Alabama.
Yet critics are making out that Iron Fist is like some kind of throwback to Yellow Peril characters like Fu Manchu, but it's nothing of the sort. There's a simple reason why that was offensive and why Iron Fist isn't.
Iron Fist features a white man playing a white man, whereas Fu Manchu was a Chinese man played by a white man, complete with 'slitty eye' makeup.
In spite of this obvious truth, a lot of people suggest that an Asian person would have been better suited to the role. Why? Another chop-socky Chinaman is not what the Asian community needs in terms of media representation. We need more Asian people just being people. An example that springs to mind is Glenn in The Walking Dead. He's great because he's just a regular guy, who also happens to be Asian.
But the critics continue to pile on the criticism when it comes to Iron Fist. I wonder, though, how many of those same critics heaped praise on Kill Bill, which is far more guilty of borrowing from East Asian culture than Iron Fist.
Call Iron Fist what you like. Say it's badly written or boring. That's fine. I disagree, but each to their own. Just stop getting offended about something that's not offensive - and if you aren't Asian, perhaps stop and think about what Asians actually care about.