A Penny For Your Thoughts on Netflix & Marvel’s Tired White Saviour Trope

It took a whole weekend. Four 2litre Coke Zeros. The constant reminding myself that I promised Widro the entire series recapped. But I FINALLY made it through the virtual tire fire that was Netflix and Marvel’s Iron Fist.

See, on it’s own, on the surface, it’s a mediocre to okay show with a mostly good cast and a painfully wooden lead that relies on sad tired dated racist tropes like the White Kung Fu Saviour who Asian People are in Awe of, Yellow fever, etc. . If it didn’t have the Marvel tag on it and wasn’t part of a larger tv universe, you could either overlook the litany of problematic diet racism and hatewatch it as a curiousity or an exercise in “who the fuck greenlit this shit?” or just ignore it entirely.

But it DOES have the Marvel tag on it. And compared to the near perfect excellence that has preceded it, it’s middling mediocrity stands out like a Klansmen in the audience at the Apollo. There’s just no bloody way you can overlook the uncomfortable broken problematic bullshit. It’s like family dinner and your redneck cousin lets the n word slip in conversation and everyone wants to pretend it didn’t happen but you just can’t.

The discomfort is made all the more glaring by having it follow the nigh perfect epic that was Luke Cage. Daredevil and Jessica Jones were both great, well written, well acted shows that were mostly well paced and had character development and captivating plots that kept your interest, but Luke Cage was, quite honestly, one of the single greatest things to happen to television in decades. It was diverse, unapologetically black, beautifully written and clearly written by black people who understood what they were expressing rather than a typical “white tv writer’s idea of what black peoples’ lives are like”. Luke cage got more black people on tv in fleshed out speaking roles in 13 episodes than NBC, ABC and CBS have in the last decade. Luke Cage was ethnic, representative, and amazing, and was about as close to utter perfection as TV can be. So Iron Fist had a HUGE act to follow. And it failed. It not only couldn’t follow Luke Cage at all, it wandered off the road and fell into a ditch whining about how it got brown on it’s outfit.

Following Luke Cage only makes all the diet racist tropes, problematic themes, wooden acting from the boring lead, awkward out of place romantic subplot, and mind-numbingly boring pacing with boring poorly choreographed fight scenes stick out like a pimple smack in the middle of your face. There’s no way to enjoy it or even watch it without either falling asleep or feeling uncomfortable. So much of it made my skin crawl, and not at the parts or in the way they wanted it to.

I can hope and pray that the Defenders will regain Marvel and Netflix’s momentum and get them back to form, but really, Iron Fist is your awkward kinda racist cousin who tells made up stories about all the people he can beat up while the rest of the family are all active marines who’ve survived mortar fire. If you could punch a tv show in the dick this would be it.

Please please please, don’t waste the viewing time. It’s 13 hours of your life you’ll never get back. Instead go watch Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or Daredevil again.

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