‘Iron Fist’ Co-Creator Doesn’t Care How You Feel About Whitewashing (Nor Does He Care If Iron Fist Were Asian)
Part of the conversation about Netflix‘s Iron Fist show has been around the matter of whitewashing, or the “white saviour” trope; it’s the classic story of how a rich white kid encounters an Asian culture and takes from it in order to fight for truth, justice, and the rest back at his skyscraper penthouse. Well, Iron Fist’s comic book co-creator Roy Thomas has heard your criticisms and he’s got a message. “I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have.” Wow. That’s some hard-boiled honesty for you from a legend of the comic book world. Would you like to hear more?
“Yeah, someone made me vaguely aware of that. I try not to think about it too much,” said Thomas in a new interview with The Inverse. “I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.”
Yup, Iron Fist co-start Jessica Henwick has already reacted to that.
Oriental is a term used to describe rugs, not people.
— Jessica Henwick 🐒 (@JHenwick) March 21, 2017
But like Thomas’ language, the writer wants everyone to know that when he helped create Iron Fist in the 1970s, it was a very different time. “It’s very easy to second-guess anything. You can argue about Tarzan, you can argue about almost any character who came up then is bound to be not quite PC by some later standard or other. Okay, so you can make some adjustments,” he said. “He wasn’t intended to stand for any race. He was just a man who was indoctrinated into a certain thing.”
And before you take exception with the word “indoctrinated,” Thomas added, “I just think some people have too much time on their hands, I guess. They have an infinite capacity for righteous indignation. By and large, that tends to be misplaced quite often because if you’re becoming all upset over things that are just stories, and if you don’t like it, instead of trying to change somebody else’s story, go out and make up your own character and do a good job of it.”
Really though, who cares? Right, Thomas? “On the other hand, if they had decided to make Iron Fist an Asian, that would have been fine with me, too,” he said. “I wouldn’t have cared. I didn’t consider myself the safeguard of some kind of Caucasian literary standard or anything like that. But I would have found it easier to write about a Caucasian, so that’s one reason I probably did it. If somebody had suggested, ‘You want to make it so he’s Asian?’ Well, we could have done that too.”
Well, now that that’s clear, Thomas said it all doesn’t really matter anyway because the whole damn thing is fictional. “Now if something is really racist or degrading to a sex or race, an ethnic group or something like that, that’s something else, but Iron Fist isn’t that and never has been,” he added. “It’s all about a fictitious race, a fictitious place like a Shangri-La, and one person who happens to be its emissary. There’s no reason why he can’t be Caucasian.”
So glad we sorted that out.
Iron Fist is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.
Source: Geek Tyrant