What a gift this month is! We have not one but two racist and/or whitewashed media adaptations being released — Iron Fist and Ghost in the Shell — and they’re both getting terrible press.
What a shame. We shall sip our tea and nibble at a dark, bittersweet pie and try not to disturb others with our cackles of laughter.
Gosh, that’s two consecutive Variety links. Here’s their actual review:
Not one element of this plodding piece works. The action scenes lack spark, snap, and originality. None of the flat, by-the-numbers characters makes any lasting impression. And as origin stories go, the tale of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), at least as rendered by this creative team, is about as exciting as a slice of Velveeta cheese left out in the sun too long.
Sure, this is a show where a white male character explains how to punch to an Asian-American, female head of her own dojo, in her own dojo — wait, let me be painfully specific. A white male character explains his martial art — which was made up by white men in the 1970s as a nonspecifically Asian but definitionally more powerful technique than those invented by actual Asian cultures — to an Asian-American, female expert in actual martial arts developed by actual Asian cultures.
Rather than being a man who found enlightenment through tragedy and disassociation from his upbringing, Danny comes across like a spoiled frat boy who took a comparative religion class and spends a few months picking up coeds by telling them he’s totally into meditation and tai chi now.
And then there’s half-Chinese, half-Japanese badass Colleen Wing (Game of Thrones’ Jessica Henwick), fellow martial-arts expert and Danny’s would-be partner in his fight against the Hand. Colleen is tough and intelligent, and Henwick gives her a grit that makes Colleen more watchable than her bland counterpart. But the series repeatedly undermines her in the name of establishing Danny as special. In the first episode, Danny breaks into unsubtitled Mandarin upon learning she’s a martial artist, apparently assuming Asian women he casually meets on the street are happy to speak Mandarin with a white stranger. Two episodes later, he mansplains kung-fu to her, all to better illustrate how she needs his protection. At no point does Colleen call him out for this. Instead, she reacts with little more than gentle bemusement toward his better handle on language and his skills as a fighter, when she ought to be kicking him to the curb.
The AV Club’s reviews of Iron Fist so far range from “scathing” to “lukewarm”, but here’s a title that sums it up: Iron Fist raises the question, is Danny Rand the Donald Trump of superheroes?
It must be difficult, being the face of a series that’s both racist and creatively bankrupt. Unfortunately, Finn Jones handled it even worse than Scarlett “I would never play a person of a different race” Johansson:
If, after all this, you still have some lingering interest in the Netflix Marvel Universe, io9 is here for you:
Or you could watch it with Chinese subtitles on, for hilarity:
Delicious schadenfreude pie: 99% of ‘Iron Fist’s’ Negative Reviews Are Coming From White Critics. That Matters
MEANWHILE, GHOST IN THE SHELL. It comes out next week, and the marketing is ramping up.
The Age is usually about five months behind the rest of the world when it comes to entertainment coverage, but here’s an excellent overview of the Ghost in the Shell controversy masquerading as an extremely unenthusiastic set visit and interview.
I (Steph) thought I had reviews saved but I don’t, so have some threads about why I can’t wait for it to fail instead (click through to read the threads on twitter):
Stand by for when we have more terrible reviews to laugh at, and for when it’s time to get more angry about the Death Note remake, in which Japanese characters are reimagined as white Americans and of course that’s fine.
(Isn’t it great how that trailer dropped today, when we already had this post ready to go? Hollywood racism: you could set your watch by it.)