Editor’s Note: Ranier Maningding is a copywriter and mastermind behind the social justice page “The Love Life of an Asian Guy“. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own
On a scale from Rob Schneider to Bruce Lee, Netflix’s “Iron Fist” has received an endless flurry of piss-poor reviews, making it the “Deuce Bigalow” of the Marvel Universe. Marvel fanboys, however, seem to “love” the show despite its reverse-treasure trove of horrible screenwriting and Finn Jones’ “I trained martial arts at the dojo of Ronald Mcdonald.”
What happened, Marvel? I thought a hot-shot actor like Finn Jones was the key to success? Are you telling me that white main characters/actors aren’t the key to successful TV shows?!
Welp, we told you so. We told you that an Asian-American Danny Rand would have been a better, more complex storyline that would explore the disconnect that Asian-Americans feel with native Asians. We also told you that another white savior story about a white man who can kung fu better than actual Asians was steeped in Orientalism and cultural appropriation.
We told you that the source material itself was racist, but of course, like preteens quick to belt out “you don’t understand my passion for Minecraft, dad!” Marvel fans argued that if Danny Rand was white in the original source material, he must be white in the Netflix adaptation. How could Iron Fist be racist if Danny Rand was originally white? I mean, it’s not like the co-creator of Iron Fist, Roy Thomas, is a racist, right?
Not so fast, senpai.
“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.” — Roy Thomas, Inverse
- No, Roy, you don’t know where our concerns are coming from or else you wouldn’t have minimized the issue of cultural appropriation. Then again, you are the appropriator in question so I guess you’re just covering your ass, right?
- Bro, we can/do worry about things beyond the cultural appropriation of Iron Fist. Hell, I can hit the gym, listen to The Weeknd, drink gatorade, and worry about Iron Fist at the same time. Something something walking and chewing gum, amirite?
- Oriental? ORIENTAL? Jesus Christ. I get that you’re 76-years-old and you grew up in a time where racists hid behind white bedsheets and not anonymous Twitter profiles, but you are never too old to be a piece of shit. Congrats, Roy Thomas, now you’re an old, racist piece of shit.
Roy Thomas’ refusal to acknowledge cultural appropriation and his use of “Oriental”, an antiquated racial slur, raises an important question: why are Marvel fanboys still defending the source material as “not racist” when the co-founder is?
The reality is, many writers from as early as the 1800s created racist stories because they themselves were racist. Remember that cutesy Disney movie “The Jungle Book” from 1967? That was written by famed white supremacist Rudyard Kipling who originally wrote “The Jungle Book” in 1894, a tale drenched in racist, pro-imperialist themes that mirrored the British colonization of India. Did I mention Rudyard Kipling also wrote the poem “The White Man’s Burden”? Ya know, the one he used to justify United States’ colonization of the Philippines?
Yes. That one.
Sax Rohmer was another racist writer who contributed to one of the most damaging, racist, anti-Asian caricatures to exist: Dr. Fu Manchu. A caricature of the emasculated Asian man and the threat of Asian foreigners via Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu was an evil Asian villain who was always plotting to a.) rape white American women or b.) destroy the United States. In 1936, Sax Rohmer’s books were banned by the Germans (they may have assumed he was Jewish) yet he argued with disappointment that he was “a good Irishman” and that his writing did not conflict with Nazi ideals.
So where does Roy Thomas fit in? He may not be at Rudyard Kipling levels of racism, but it’s important to call him out for his deliberate use of Oriental, as a white man, and the dismissal of cultural appropriation. What? So you can borrow all the aesthetics and elements of Asian culture but you can’t be bothered to respect Asian people?
The results are in aaaanddd Roy Thomas… YOU. ARE. A. RACIST! Thomas released Iron Fist in 1974. He’s had 42 years to acknowledge that he benefited and profited off cultural appropriation, but all he can say is, “Don’t you have something better to do?” Go fist yourself, Roy. If Roy Thomas is a racist then Iron Fist is his racist, culturally appropriative brainchild.
By now you’re probably asking, “Can I still enjoy Iron Fist?” Sure! Do whatever you want! You can love that crappy show, have the hots for Colleen Wing and Lewis Tan, and still hold the show and its creator accountable for racism. No one can stop you from liking a TV show, but you should stop yourself from deflecting the inherent racism of Iron Fist. Something something walking and chewing gum, amirite?
You can do that, or you can join Roy Thomas and fist yourself. Your choice, grasshopper.