Before I even started watching Marvel’s The Iron Fist, I’d heard murmurs of its controversy and read a few reviews, most of which talked about Danny Rand’s peak white saviorness. They made some valid points, but I’m less interested in the white savior trope itself, and more concerned with the show’s real problem: Danny Rand embodies the worst of white folks. Danny Rand is the know nothing, do nothing, say nothing pertinent or nuanced white boy who sits on his laurels while everyone else is busting their ass and then hops in with some weak ass “wisdom” for the masses with his sole qualification being that he is Danny Rand–which of course he aims to prove after fifteen years of absence simply by repeating over and over again that he is Danny Rand and telling people a wild ass story he can’t even prove.
I gotta talk about the scene where he’s in Colleen Wing’s dojo (after breaking and entering, mind you, it’s not his first time, because he stalked Joy and broke into her house too) and he walks in on the students practicing. First off, there are two black students and they’re both shitty stereotypes. One is what Jerrod Carmichael might call “saveable,” or what Chris Rock might call a “Black person” as opposed to a “nigga”: you know, well behaved but from a broken home, has promise, but does some shady stuff (cage fighting) in order to help out his impoverished family. The other black kid is the class clown jokester monkey type and oh my fucking god, Danny actual calls the class monkeys when he walks in on them–the black kid goofing around up front. Then he proceeds to show them how kung fu is really done, and when the kids laugh at him, he brutally knocks the negro jester to the ground with a practice sword. Nerver mind that this is as fierce as he gets in the whole damn show, since he, the Iron Fist, gets taken down by two fuckin orderlies in a psych hospital (a completely wasted and empty sequence of events to begin with). Colleen Wing comes in and rightfully asks him what the fuck he is doing and tells him to leave and he’s like “what? Come on.”
Danny is just strolling around New York with no shoes and no purpose, telling everyone how he’s the shit and getting manhandled by orderlies while taking his anger out on black teenagers with a side of mansplaining to Colleen Wing, an Asian woman who dedicates her fucking life to teaching kung fu–who also has the best fight scenes in the show by the way, in those cage matches–about Kung Fu. Get the fuck outta here son. The fact that he’s completely humorless and doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything other than his father’s legacy makes it even more disgusting. Colleen Wing calls him out on his pretentiousness, saying that “being a millionaire gets you a lot huh,” and what does he say? “Billionaire,” without a hint of self-awareness, irony or humor, and drops the mic.
All of these things are not necessarily problems with the fact that Danny is white, but that he’s the quentissential shitty, hyper entitled white boy with no charisma who not only demands a seat at the table, but wants to be the head of that motherfucker. He is the case study for white male hegemony. He is the white person that POC complain about when we broadly say “white people.” And what we are too fucking tired of, is the success of this bland ass, stale ass Wonderbread model of storytelling. I think focusing on just the fact that Danny is white can be problematic. Personally, I don’t give a fuck. My closest friend is a white boy (see what I did there?). David Remnick is a white boy who wrote two awesome books about some of the most famous Black people ever. Aesop Rock is a white boy who is fucking murdering the rap game, and so is El P as part of RTJ. Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders are both white boys whose work I have read every single inch of thrice over. But you know what the difference is between them and Danny? All of these people are putting in the fucking work. Doing the reading, the learning, the obsessing over details, the thinking, the introspection, while Danny Rand is sitting with his palms open waiting for the world to drop in them shits and mad as hell when it doesn’t.
Danny Rand’s character, in this here 2017, wants us to not only to accept, but to praise his peak entitled, dumb white boy ass based solely on his lack of melanin, his daddy’s money and because he said so. That’s it. Danny can take several fucking seats, in Ku’n-Lun, in New York, on Netflix and wherever the fuck else.