by theblerdgurl | Originally posted on Medium

Yesterday, Finn Jones, the actor playing Danny Rand on the Netflix debut of Marvel’s live action version of Iron Fist abruptly quit twitter. He wasn’t being harrassed, he wasn’t threatened, there was no controversy. In fact, to most observers, he simply seemed to be having a conversation. This raised more than a few eyebrows, especially since the show is set to debut in less than two weeks on March 17.

On Sunday night, Jones appears to have gotten into a discussion on twitter with Asyiqin Haron, a 21 year old artist from Singapore who also happens to be the creative director for Geeks of Color, (Heron’s comments are from her own personal twitter account and she was not representing GOC or tweeting from their account when she made them).

I reached out to Haron and asked her permission to use her tweets and screenshots and hear what really happened.

Apparently, Finn made a rather ironic comment on the recent speech that Star Wars Actor Riz Ahmed made to Parliament last week about the necessity for diversity in casting and a stunned Haron answered in kind.

The message of Finn’s tweet is to be commended, the messenger, however is not appreciated in this case. Since the announcement that Jones would be taking on the role of Danny Rand in Netflix’s Marvel’s Iron Fist, the Game of Thrones alum has been hit with a wave of criticism, mostly from Asian and POC comic book fans who were none too pleased with Marvel’s casting decision. A point that mainstream media has missed again, is that the trope of “the white male chosen one” and Rand’s character in particular is actually looked upon as racist by many Northeast and Southeast Asians. The things is, this is not new. Posts, articles, think pieces and even artwork have been bandied about the web on this topic for quite some time. The furor escalated however, when Lewis Tan was cast as Zhou Cheng, Iron Fist’s nemesis.

Not only had the actor originally auditioned for the role of Iron Fist (a race-bended version that was welcome by many fans), but the fact that he was instead cast as the baddie, didn’t sit well with many. On top of the fact that he is a trained stuntman and would have KILLED the role.

But I digress…

Finn decided to respond to Haron and what followed was a thread where he tells her that although Rand’s character has not been changed, he asks that she should watch the show without passing judgement, because there are plenty of diverse characters to chose from. Including Colleen Wing played by Jessica Henwick. Haron then counters that it’s his casting that she and many other Asians have a problem with, but Finn doesn’t appear to understand that. Read a portion of the conversation below:

screenshot from Asyiqin Haron

screenshot from Asyiqin Haron

Jones then goes on to explain why Haron, (a young Asian woman who is clearly not seeing herself or her ethnic group reflected in the media enough) should change her thinking and instead consider that the show is more intelligent and thought provoking if we leave it as is.

screenshot from Asyiqin Haron

To see all of the tweets click here.

In other words, “Instead of complaining, why don’t you look at all of the diverse characters in the show that we’ve created for you and not worry about the white male lead. His flaws mean he’s not perfect, therefore the diverse characters we do have look even better right?”

Wrong.

Jones clearly missed the point, which is that by changing Danny’s character to Asian, Marvel would have had an opportunity to change the “white-male-savior-chosen-one” trope around for once and make an interesting origin story for an Asian American actor. Apparently, the fanboys who dropped into Haron’s timeline after the twitter exchange attacking her (Asian men included) don’t understand that. This whole issue speaks of a larger problem with diversity and inclusion BEHIND the camera and in the writers’ room. Here’s more from twitter on the subject:

Look, I’m realistic, (I’m also not Asian), I understand that you can’t please everyone and that every character cannot be written to satisfy everyone’s needs. But you simply cannot ask a group of people who do not represent the ethnic minority that they are writing about, to create a character that will be acceptable to said ethnic group.

For more on my thoughts about this. Click here.

Finn never responded after that and that seemed to be the end of it, but then about two hours later, Finn’s account was deleted from twitter.

As of this writing, neither Finn Jones nor Marvel have released a statement explaining his abrupt departure, but it seems that he has reinstated his account. But why did he leave?

The recent white washing of Asian characters in Hollywood such as casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson’s role as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, and even the casting of Nat Wolff as Light in the American live action version of the manga/anime hit Death Note have left many POC (myself included) unimpressed to say the least. Add to that at Swinton’s less than stellar email exchange with Margaret Cho, and it’s easy to see why Jones’ publicist or maybe even Marvel’s publicists might have chosen to have him leave Twitter quickly before he put his foot in his mouth.

When I asked Haron why she thinks Finn left twitter she had this to say:

I tried to be super civil when replying to him but for some reason these people took it as me harassing him. I wasn’t. There was no hostility at all. As for why I think he left, I have no idea. He left on his own accord. I didn’t make him. It was unexpected. — Asyiqin Haron

So one more time for the people in the back. Finn Jones was NOT harassed off of twitter.

There was no fight. There was no dragging. There was no doxing. Neither he nor his family members were threatened. Finn Jones, is still very much employed by Marvel and still very much going to play Iron Fist. For those of you who disagree, I invite you read this article as an example of what twitter harassment actually looks like.

I hope Iron Fist surprises us, I really do. I doubt it will break Netflix. What do you think?

UPDATE: As of 2pm EST March 6. Finn Jones’ twitter account was reactivated.


theblerdgurl is a lover of comics, manga, anime, and sci-fi. She is a movie quoting Blerd with an unhealthy KPop habit. Follow her on twitter @theblerdgurl

 

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22 thoughts on “Finn Jones Whitesplains Iron Fist to Asian Woman Then Takes Twitter Timeout

  1. Asian girl: *tweets question, rudely, to white dude*
    White dude: *responds civilly*
    POC: STOP WHITESPLAINING!!!

    Can yall stop embarrassing the rest of us for one goddamn day, jesus

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If a WOC deleted her twitter after a white man said a mildly snarky thing like “Are you for real?” we’d be hearing all about how thin-skinned and easily offended that WOC is.

      POC, especially WOC, aren’t allowed even the slightest expressions of anger or emotion. If we fall short of perfect saintliness, we’ve got the whole internet, including other POC, policing us over how mean we are. Ask yourself why this Asian woman’s moment of mild rudeness is more embarrassing to you than all the garbage freely spewed by “politically incorrect” white men.

      Fuck your respectability politics.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m with you I sincerely hope Iron Fist surprises us and I wish Finn Jones nothing but the best.

    Lewis Tan would have made an excellent Danny Rand, he’s been training martial arts since he was a kid, he is a qualified stuntman and he’s biracial would have served the backstory greatly. I think he’s destined for a bigger role down the road. He also mentioned that while he would havel loved to be Danny Rand but he’s worked hard for this role.

    Back to Finn Jones, If I had been him I would have kept my mouth shut just a few weeks from the premiere I also think his publicist told him to quit Twitter. Actors can put their foot in their mouth don’t want to give Marvel any more negative press in this matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because it would’ve served the story the same. He was an American boy raised in wealth whose plane crashed in Kunlung where he was taught to fight. He came back to his home 10 years later to get his old life back in order. Having an Asian American you can represent both sides. The American sensibility/thinking and the Asian side for the culture and heritage. You get the same story but with diversity.

      Like

    2. Colleen is Japanese in the comics. She’s often drawn looking white because some artists are bad at drawing racial features. Her last name is *Wing* for chist’s sake and she identifies as Japanese-American in the comics. Do your research instead of taking one random image of her looking white-passing (I could find just as many images of Danny where he’s drawn with Asian-looking features in the comics; David Aja especially often drew Danny with Asian eyes).

      Like

  3. The one thing that may bring me into this show would be if they examined and deconstructed the white savior trope. But I don’t find that likely. Wish we could’ve gotten something else like an adoptee struggling with identity.

    Like

  4. “I tried to be super civil when replying to him”

    She started the reply chain by quote retweeting his post with “…….. are you for real” and ended a following reply with “but sure. Do you.”

    Anyone with half a sense of decency knows that’s not how you engage in conversations with people in a “super civil” manner in the real world. For her to then have the audacity to lament his decision to reply, in a truly civil manner, is truly baffling.

    Maybe put the phone down, go for a walk, have real conversations with people, and re-calibrate your social media persona to something less artificial and obnoxious.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So wait, is Danny Rand a white guy in the comics? No? Alright then. As a comic book fan who likes when movies and TV shows stick to the source material, I have no problem with a white guy being cast as a white guy. I dont get the “shoehorn a person of color into a white role to make us feel good” line of thinking just like I dont get the “Marvel is too black because it casted all of these black actors into black roles” line of thinking. What good does “forced diversity”?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If “making Danny Asian doesn’t change his character,” as Asyiqin Haron of Geeks of Color suggests, then Haron implies that Asian American identity appears meaningless and immaterial to her.

    The whole ‘Asian American Iron Fist’ request proved conceptually flawed: fans beg Disney/ Marvel for heroes of color without regard for the popularity of existing brands or comic source material and degrade their own interest in pop culture diversity into crass support for useless epidermal palette swaps on screen.

    It is not enough to crave characters of color in live-action superhero media if one believes that the non-White, often non-Western identities presented by these casting choices would have no impact on superheroic identity. We cannot elevate the visual pleasure some people of color derive from watching people who share their phenotype on screen, however they enjoy that departure from Western tradition, into an identity politic worthy of respect.

    If Haron is correct, than race cannot have a meaningful narrative impact on the superhero concept or stories like Iron Fist. Not only would such race meaninglessness prove impossible given the gaudy racialism within Marvel’s Netflix shows (See Cage, Luke), but it places Marvel in the unenviable position of developing a character whose racial identity is meaningful enough to cast a non-White martial artist as the primary lead, but so unimportant that none of Danny Rand’s existing character elements would be affected by such casting.

    What’s unfortunate here is that the so-called “woke” position on superheroes promoted by this minor kerfluffle reflects only the anger some ‘of color’ geeks and nerds express toward industry reluctance to display darker skinned and almond eyed people in skintight Lycra and stylish Kevlar. An actual progressive position on the superhero genre can’t pretend that simple visual inclusion should be the end all should desire.

    At best, #AAIronFist was a ludicrous proposition. No one is required to watch Iron Fist, but calls to cast an Asian American lead here were not advisable, and silly Twitter conversations with the actor who plays him over the race politics of his role serve very little purpose.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He’s commenting specifically on her concerns with the White Male Chosen One (WMCO) trope and she’s clearly misunderstanding him?

      “there are a lot of characteristics in Danny which are problematic, that’s the point, rather than shy away from them we.. inspect them. It makes for a rich, intelligent, thought provoking show.” is in response to her concerns about him playing a character who is a very strong example of the offensive trope. He agrees that the character is problematic, but thinks that the show addresses this fact, presumably as part of the themes/plot. (I have no idea if it does or not, I haven’t watched it yet. But he’s making the claim that it does.) He also points out that it does it while using a lot of good POC actors to play the supporting cast, which he seems proud of.

      To which she responds: “That’s great and all but you do see why Danny Rand being white is problematic right?”

      But as you can see, he literally just said that he agreed about Danny Rand being a WMCO trope, AND that he felt that that was problematic . The character as written in the comics, the comics that he’s adapting, IS problematic. He sees that and agrees with it.

      “i get it. but changing the character isn’t the solution, it’s better to keep his flaws and inspect them..” He reiterates here. The character is problematic. He says that he thinks that instead of whitewashing this flaw in the character they’re adapting, and turning the character into a progressive icon, they adapt that flaw, acknowledge that it’s flawed, and inspect how/why it’s flawed. Once again, I have no idea if the adaptation actually attempts to do that or if it manages to do a good job if it does. He seems to think that it does, and that’s what he’s trying to say. He also is clearly proud of the fact that the show has an otherwise diverse cast.

      “Making Danny Asian doesn’t change his character though………..”

      Whoosh. It DOES change the character. It changes the fact that the character is, among other more commendable things, a racist trope. He’s trying to argue that ignoring racist things isn’t as useful as acknowledging and picking apart how/why they’re racist and how/why that is a bad thing.

      “The white saviour trope was never progressive to begin with and it will never be. It needs to be retired” she responds. I don’t understand how it parses from his text that he thinks the trope itself is progressive somehow, but that’s her takeaway, which I think is unfortunate.

      He clearly isn’t enjoying being misunderstood and responds with a kind of a pretty carefully worded so as not to offend “I’m done with this conversation” message, not helped by a typo where he cuts out an important part of the sentence, so it all reads a bit jumbled. But it’s clear that he’s trying to say that he values discussing issues that he might not fully understand, although the “and understanding is key” MIGHT be a slightly rude reference to his being misread, I dunno.

      “BUT ARE YOU UNDERSTANDING THO”

      I think the dude is probably in a pretty tough position. I literally know nothing about the guy other than having read the tweets you posted here, but based on them he strikes me as pretty progressively minded. A lot of people you try to have this conversation with, and they’ll either ignore you or insult you or say something completely nonsensical that highlights how straight up lacking in critical thinking skills they are. If he IS progressively minded, it’s probably pretty uncomfortable for him to be playing a character whose backstory is CLEARLY a blatantly racist trope. At the same time, it’s a good role from an actor’s perspective. It’s the titular role in a series that is guaranteed to have a huge audience, in a cinematic universe that is making billions of dollars worldwide. I think it’s fair to criticize Marvel and Netflix and Disney for pushing a racist trope character, and I think that they should be introducing way more diverse titular roles in their film/TV lineup.

      I do think it would have been a cool/interesting move to cast an asian actor in the role. I REALLY liked some of the story ideas / character conflicts outlined in the “Marvel, Please Cast an Asian American Iron Fist” article. And there is tons of great asian talent which isn’t being utilized by the MCU. They aren’t experiences that I’ve personally had, but neither are MOST experiences in stories I like, and the ones suggested sound interesting, compelling, and entertaining. They would have made good television. I just don’t think the actor who got the job adapting the version that they decided to make, who admits and dislikes the fact that the character is a racist trope and who seems pretty proud of the fact that the cast is otherwise diverse (This entire thing started because he promoted a speech arguing the importance of diversity/representation.), is really deserving of that much ire. The show may or may not do a good job of addressing the trope like he says it does; it might play it straight and be tone deaf and terrible. It might have addressed the trope in one version of the editing/script but that content might be cut/changed in the version we see, and that is the version he thinks he thinks he’s doing and is defending. The process of developing a film/tv show sometimes ends with a product very different from the version you imagined going in.

      Note that I think it’s fair to disagree with his assertion that it’s better to not ignore the fact that the source material is racist, but to acknowledge and evaluate (and you’d hope CONDEMN) that fact. (It IS a self serving argument in his case, even if you agree with it.) Honestly, that’s a pretty important and probably fun/interesting/enlightening conversation to have, and I don’t entirely know what I personally feel is the best way to go about things. (I suspect that the answer is that both approaches can result in a really compelling product if done competently, and it depends somewhat on the source material in question which would work best.) But this isn’t that conversation, and this article and the tweets in reply to Finn don’t seem to acknowledge or understand that that was the conversation he was trying to have. He at least strikes me as well meaning, even if he’s misguided. Could be a racist, rude, uncaring jerk for all I know, but he doesn’t come off that way in these tweets.

      Like

  7. Probably not, when the only other white male Defender is also a martial artist. Or that the two Avengers who use martial arts are both white as well. Or the DCTV universe which has several martial artist heroes who are all white.
    Danny being Asian wouldn’t indicate ‘only’ Asians can do this, and the idea he’d be a simple stereotype if he was Asian is honestly a little insulting to Danny’s character.

    Like

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