I wasn't going to write about Netflix's Iron Fist and what I feel is wrong with it. I was going to watch the thing out of a sense of completion and grumble privately. I've been told and told how it gets better. But we're at episode 10...and everything about the show demonstrates that those who need to be adapting to the very real and diverse world, aren't bothering.
Dear writers, if you're going to tell a story about a spoiled, rich, white boy being the hero, make damned sure he doesn't get away with shit without consequences. Stop having shit magically be okay for them while they run over the rights, privacy, and well-being of others--all in the guise of being the Good Guy™. Just stop. Good intensions do not make it okay, even the bible tells you that. The fantasy that being a powerful, rich, white dude resolves the worlds' problems is harmful and dangerous. If it's a phase, phase him into maturity the moment he hits the real world because realistically he's going to hit a wall. To do otherwise sets a bad expectation. (see toxic masculinity)
Next, let's move to how Danny shows up in a magical place filled with magical people and decides of his own accord that he wants the big prize. Why? He deserves it. Why? He wants it. It's power. Does he understand what that power is for? Nope. Clearly not. The fact that it's the Prize is all that matters. Does he actually do the work to get the prize? Now, here's where I absolutely stop believing what Danny says due to two little known literary devices called "Show Don't Tell" and "Unreliable Narrator". Danny says he did the work. Danny says he has control of his mind, body, and emotions. Danny says he has self-discipline. He demonstrates exactly zero of these things. He never even practices, outside of waving his limbs around for five minutes every few weeks. (As opposed to Colleen and Claire.) In fact, he discusses his training in terms of abuse. Thus, he appears to have been awarded the prize because Little Rich-Orphan-White-Boy™. Does he accept the responsibility that goes with the prize he wants? Nope. In fact, he steals the prize away and takes it home to America, leaving the temple and everyone in it in danger. He wanted it because it was pretty and shiny. He had no understanding of the thing nor the function of that thing within the culture in question. He took it out of its context regardless of whether he had a right to do so. That's classic imperialism. Straight up.
Now, let's examine the magical monks and how they are portrayed. First, they're stupid. They have this great, powerful prize. They train warriors to protect the monastery from the Big Bad™. They spend fifteen years training some asshole to be the Iron Fist and then hand him the power before he actually understands what the fucking thing is or how it should be used. Then they act surprised when he wanders off with it. Holy crap, is that stupid.
Also, Danny tells everyone that the monks were abusive. As a martial arts student this goes against everything I've ever been taught, read, or witnessed regarding bushido. Can the training be demanding? Sure. Have individuals abused the philosophy behind the art? Every practice has the potential for that, even Christianity. We know this. However, these monks are supposedly Good Guys™. As a result, Danny's claims give the story an outsider's perspective: there is no love within martial arts nor within Buddhism. (The monks are monks, after all. This implies a religious order.) Danny's perspective isn't even questioned by Colleen Wing which it should've been. We have only one perspective no matter the background of the character. That says the writers of the show are outsiders. It implies a certain savagery within that culture. You know what? That shit pisses me off.
Need more proof? Stop and think about how martial arts masters are portrayed within the Netflix/Marvel world. First, we're introduced to Stick: a blind, inscrutable, smirking, sadistic asshole who trained Daredevil. Then The Hand--even worse, undead, smirking, sadistic assholes. Also: inscrutable. Electra? Trained by inscrutable, sadistic assholes. Then we have those monks that raised Danny: immortal, inscrutable, sadistic assholes. Colleen Wing? Trained by what appears to be another inscrutable, sadistic asshole. See the pattern? Zen Buddhism (most often associated with bushido and most often viewed as inexplicable) isn't the only form of Buddhism. For fuck's sake, can we stop portraying non-Christian religions as the great evil already? Buddhism is one of the big three religious practices around the world, damn it. I don't know how much more legitimate it can be.
Grow up, Marvel. You know that schtick about how with great power comes great responsibility? Isn't that one of yours? It's okay to have white dude heroes, but stop being lazy when you do. It's not interesting any more. I don't know that it ever was. At worst, it's causing real harm by encouraging the idea that it's okay to be that fucking thoughtless.
 Dane tells me that this is a set up for The Defenders which, based upon everything I'm hearing, is something I really, really want to see.
 As if the last election wasn't demonstration enough. However, apparently not even the left has learned the lesson. (see discussions about the next presidential election and qualified women candidates. Oy. [sigh])
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.