A Carp On Dry Land

The impending release of Netflix’s Iron Fist show combined with some seriously tone-deaf and whiter than white comments from its star Finn Jones have led to a resurgence of the discussions around #AAIronFist. Created by Keith Chow of Nerds of Colour after the announcement of the show (not as a backlash to 45’s election as Finn Jones would like you to believe, oddly enough AAPI’s have wanted better representation for far longer than 5 months) to lobby for an Asian/Asian American Danny Rand it was ultimately ignored by the creators as they went for the traditional rich white boy hero we always get. For the record, it wasn’t because we hate canon or white boys it was because:

The conversation would pick up again in small bursts as announcements were made and cast photos were released but now that the first 6 episodes have been seen by critics and the negative reviews are flowing and the embargo on interviews has been lifted the hashtag has been quite active again with lots of people new to the discourse flooding in to defend Jones and his casting for two primary reasons.

  • Danny Rand is canonically white in the comics (nevermind that he was created to be a white washed Gary Stu Bruce Lee)
  • In order to be a fish out of water amongst Asians Danny CAN’T be Asian.

The first is ridiculous. Comics changes canon constantly. Characters can have 3 different origin stories and readers have to keep up with different multiverses and timelines but a bad decision from the 70s can’t be redone? Please.

But the second people seem particularly earnest about and it’s just as ridiculous. Asia is a big continent with many languages, cultures, histories and religions and that argument is saying that a Japanese Buddhist from the country is the same as a Filipino Muslim who grew up in Manila. It acts like China alone doesn’t have multiple languages and regions. And this is just sourcelanders, when you get into Asians who grew up in the diaspora, either immigrated young or born here, you have a whole other level of feeling out of place in Asia.

Why is the idea that to be a fish out of water you have to look physically different than the people around you so pervasive? Everyone has felt like that for brief and sustained moments. Have you ever:

  • Been the new kid at a school
  • Gone to a different religion’s church and not known the rituals and songs everyone performed so smoothly
  • Visited relatives or friends in a different part of the country, North Easterner to the South, Midwesterner to the West
  • Gone to a friend’s big family gathering as an only child with very few relatives
  • Been the only English major surrounded by STEM majors
  • Been a country kid who moved to the big city or vice versa
  • Been the only sober person in the group
  • Moved to a new place
  • Started a new job
  • Met a significant other’s family
  • Tried to connect with your family’s cultural roots

Think about how you felt in those situations and then examine why you think Danny Rand has to be white in order to feel like a fish out of water. Then go ahead and read some of the excellent conversations happening by AAPI including the one that kickstarted it all. No one is creating backlash just for the heck of it Finn Jones.

Spoilers Vs. Spoiling

The internet is rife with people ready to spout spoilers on any subject of choosing. Assholes who don’t care that there are people who want to go into a movie or start a book without knowing anything about it, they just have to proclaim their knowledge to the world, taking pleasure in affecting others experiences.

But while people think of spoilers in the “Snape kills Dumbledore” sense, big events, specific plot points, there’s dozens of ways to spoil a work for someone without even meaning to. Every piece of information about a work skews how view the work, takes away from the impact of seeing the work as a whole piece because consciously or subconsciously you’re waiting for that moment. It happens in trailers for movies all the time (for all that Age of Ultron was a mess of a movie I’m glad I didn’t see a lot of the trailers and got to be as surprised by Clint Barton’s family as the rest of The Avengers were) and there’s a reason I don’t like to read reviews of the things I’m interested in until afterwards (I do enjoy reading them afterwards. I get a lot of satisfaction when views line up with mine and I like seeing things from a different perspective once I’ve had the opportunity to form my own opinions).

This is obviously a specific level of spoiler avoidance and most of it is on me to keep away from the information but still a lot of people like to express their opinions on things in ways they believe are non-spoilery without realizing the impact they have. Because every piece of information skews experiences. If you’re livetweeting a show and someone sees that 15min into the show suddenly there’s a huge burst of OMGWTF tweets they’re going to be watching expecting that moment (which is why please always tag/announce your livetweets for easy muting!) and it doesn’t matter that they don’t know what the specific moment is, it’s enough to know that there’s something.

This isn’t a plea for no spoilers ever just shut your mouth and don’t say anything until you know everyone has seen it. That’s ridiculous and extreme. But this is a plea to be mindful of how your words can affect someone else’s experience. People who are assholes and don’t care about spoiling things for others, they aren’t going to change. But for those who think they’re being non-spoilery, an example of how experiences can be skewed.

I just finished the book Bloodline by Claudia Gray and I adored it to bits (spoilers for Bloodline follow. Specifically character development. Go read the book if you haven’t.) Continue reading