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Matt Reed
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 2:40am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

It was reported this week that ::gasp!:: a white actor was cast as Danny Rand aka Iron Fist in Netflix's upcoming series of the same name.  Twitter instantly went berserk.  You can read the story here.  

I've defended the casting, many times and often exhaustively, as being true to the original character.  But I've gotten pissed on by people who want to presume that White is default, that it's no more important than drywall waiting to be painted, that it has no import on the character at all.  To be fair, I've also encountered many people saying that the casting is fair given Danny Rand has always been white, so the uproar is superficial at best.  But the spearhead has been by someone who I guess is a person who has recently written for Marvel (don't know, don't read new Marvel books) and her comments are here.  

So what are your thoughts?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 6:50am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Danny Rand is a blonde, blue eyed White guy.

Now, I grant that this is not important to the character. His backstory/upbringing could have happened with just about any race, creed or color. Only it didn't.

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Shawn Kane
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 7:16am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Based on many interactions I've had online, fans of this generation want to feel "represented". Apparently, they can't enjoy something unless they see themselves. I've been told that the reason I didn't like the Human Torch played by a black man is because I'm a white guy and I'm always represented. Power Man and Iron Fist was one of my favorite comics as a kid, the racial make up of the characters didn't mean as much to me because I just thought they were cool. Changing the gender or the race of the character matters to me because the character as I knew them is now different. If Chris Rock were to be cast as Luke Cage, would I be wrong for thinking that it's bad casting? He may be able to play the part but physically, he doesn't resemble the character. 
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Dave Phelps
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 8:40am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Wait, casting an Asian as a martial artist is supposed to increase diversity now? I clearly need to get caught up on my memos.
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Just hope they stick to his origin complete with dragon tattoo.

-C!
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 10:07am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Iron Fist has a great origin story; family ,betrayal, harsh wilderness, mystical city. Please get this right !
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John Byrne
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 10:16am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Wait, casting an Asian as a martial artist is supposed to increase diversity now? I clearly need to get caught up on my memos.

Decades ago, a Black comedian -- was it Richard Pryor? -- did a bit about stereotypes. A White man asks a Black man why Black people complain about so many stereotypes, but he, the White man, has never heard a Black man complain about the stereotype that all Black men have enormous penises.

"Oh," says the Black man, smiling, "that's OUR stereotype!"

So now we can modify this, and imagine people demanding "diversity" as long as it's THEIR diversity!

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 1:01pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Marvel has an asian martial arts expert in Shang-Chi. It has a white martial arts expert in Iron Fist. Both are there to be used as required. If you want to tell a tale with an asian martial artist, therefore, use Shang-Chi, and don't pick Iron First.

Whomever you choose, whether it be the Black Panther, Shang-Chi, Iron Fist, you have a responsibility to be true to the character on the page.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 1:46pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I prefer that Danny Rand be true to the page and be a blond guy.

That being said, Iron Fist's background does have issues with
Orientalism, Asian fetishization, and the White Savior trope, and the
backlash against the backlash seems to be oblivious to that. It'd be like
if Power Man were still stuck back in his blaxploitation roots, but he was
white and out-Shafted all the black folk. I mean it'd be less of an issue if
Asians had better representation, but when it's somehow
groundbreaking in 2015 that a sitcom is centered on an Asian-
American family with FRESH OFF THE BOAT, having a series about a
mystic Kung-Fu place where the best martial artist is a white dude is
kind of meh.

I'll reiterate that I don't think the solution is necessarily changing Danny
Rand's race, especially when the proposed alternative is ostensibly
stereotypical in making the martial artist superhero Asian, but there are
more issues here than adding diversity for the sake of diversity.
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Bill Guerra
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 3:55pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

This is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. Iron Fist is a white character; he's always been white. A white actor was cast to play him. I fail to see the problem.

Social media makes it much too easy for people to complain about everything.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 5:47pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

This is about some relative non-entity of a comics writer looking for attention. She's got it.
Her next crusade: If it is still in character for Miss Piggy to give karate chops with a HIIII-YAAA!. then the character will need to be redesigned to look less like a 'European' pig. 
Then she'll go after all the tasteless 'bad driver' jokes.
Confucious say...'Two wrongs not make right...but two rights make U-turn,'



Edited by Brian O'Neill on 27 February 2016 at 5:47pm
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 27 February 2016 at 6:23pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

As a Chinese American I find this embarrassing. It's 2016. Blacks are at risk being shot by cops for driving / walking for being Black. Mexicans may be wondering which side of Trump's Wall they will be facing, North or South? We Asians are facing soul searing dilemmas too: where do we buy our next million dollar McMansion? How will we ever get our kids into Harvard? And why oh why does Iron Fist have be played by a White actor?
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 9:33am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I find it embarrassing that many think Iron Fist should be anything other than what he is; how he was created.... a white, blonde male character who trained in the martial arts in a mystical city.

(Must be all those folk who thought a black Johnny Storm was a great idea!)

-C!
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Thom Price
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 10:11am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

The idea that 'white' is an unimportant, default setting for characters is often implied in these arguments, but I've never seen it so explicitly stated as here.

"With characters like Storm and Luke Cage, who are both black, the color of their skin is essential to their characters."

"I don't buy that Danny Rand's whiteness is as integral to his character as Storm or Luke Cage's black skin"

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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 10:43am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

"With characters like Storm and Luke Cage, who are both black, the color of their skin is essential to their characters."

Neither of those is true. Storm could as easily have been a White girl whose parents were killed and who eventually wandered out into the African veldt. Remember, as her origin "evolved" she was not even African born.

Luke Cage being Black is unimportant to his origin. Like Storm he could as easily have been White -- "Cool Hand Luke"?

What matters is creator intent. Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, both White, wanted Storm to be Black -- albeit with white hair and blue eyes! Archie Goodwin, also White, wanted Luke Cage to be Black. Unlike the "casting" of most characters who are White, these were deliberate, conscious choices.* (As it was Roy Thomas' deliberate choice to make Iron Fist White.)

With all the noise in recent years about "creator's rights," it seems this is one vital part of those "rights" that is being repeatedly shoved aside.

______________________

* The majority of White characters, from Superman and Batman, to the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern, to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were created at times when consideration of other races and ethnicities was nonexistent -- unless they showed up as comedy relief "darkies", dour "Indians" or the "Yellow Peril." DC stepped a couple of paces ahead of the pack by giving Hal Jordan in Inuit confidant, tho in later years it was decided that calling him "Pieface" was racist. (Still not sure how!) Over at Marvel Stan and Jack integrated the American Armed Forces years before it actually happened, by making Gabe Jones a member of the Howling Commandoes in WW2. But mostly, people wrote what they knew, and since most of the writers and artists were White, White is what the characters were.

That doesn't make it appropriate, tho, to turn the whole thing into a minstrel show, slathering a coat of black paint on White characters without any consideration of their established backgrounds.

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Tim Cousar
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 12:13pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Attention: "Blond" is male. "Blonde" is female.

Carry on.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 12:43pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Yes and no. English doesn't have a whole lot of words with genders, unlike, say, French. And while it is not uncommon in England to use "blond" and "blonde" as male and female, it has been almost completely abandoned this side of the Pond. Mostly, "blonde" is an affectation.

Which is why I use it!

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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

DC stepped a couple of paces ahead of the pack by giving Hal Jordan in Inuit
confidant, tho in later years it was decided that calling him "Pieface" was
racist. (Still not sure how!)

I don't know the original writer's intent, but can share that the term was one
of the racial insults routinely directed towards an Asian girl who transferred to
my elementary school when I was a kid.

Growing up, a number of close friends were Asian and "Blasian," and they
considered the term offensive as well. I learned that one day while we were
watching a (Bugs Bunny?) cartoon in which an Asian character's face turned
into a pie when he smiled.

Again, I don't know the creator of the comic book character's intent, and
recognize that one small group can't speak for an entire race; however, these
people (none of whom read comics) considered the term a racial insult.


Edited by Wallace Sellars on 28 February 2016 at 2:34pm
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 3:35pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"Decades ago, a Black comedian -- was it Richard Pryor? -- did a bit about stereotypes."

--

Eddie Murphy had a bit once that was similar but different enough that your story was probably a different comedian. In a small comedy club, he started listing several popular negative Black stereotypes, to the uncomfortable laughter of the audience. And then he added "we have big dicks", with audience groans as the reaction. To which he retorted "hey, if you're going to believe the myths, believe them all!"
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 3:40pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

A reference to the 'roundness' of the face...'as round as an Eskimo Pie':
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 3:48pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Asians (and Inuits) tend to have less prominent brow and nose ridges
as well as higher cheekbones than Caucasians, giving them "flatter and
rounder" faces. Hence, the term "pieface" as a racial slur.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 4:44pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

To my eight year old self, having a round face was about having a round face. I knew plenty of kids at school who had round faces. Me, for instance!

Would not have occurred to me there was anything Inuit about it.

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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

As racial slurs go, being likened to 'pie' is up there with being identified as a 'harp'. If it's the worst thing that ever happens to you, you've lived a good life.
'Like unto a visage of PIE...'
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 28 February 2016 at 6:38pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I'm glad that even as a child I realized it would have been foolish for me
to tell that girl to stop crying since she was "only" being called a
dessert.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 29 February 2016 at 1:22am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

If Tom Kalmaku had never been created, I never would have seen or heard of the term 'Pieface'. I've still never seen the term used in any context unrelated to Green Lantern, or to discussions of 'inappropriate' content in comics...whether as one of 'endearment' in the non-PC Silver Age, or as Tom's fill in the blank word for 'Don't call me...' afterwards.
I still wonder if the term existed before the frozen dessert mentioned earler was first marketed.


Edited by Brian O'Neill on 29 February 2016 at 1:23am
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