Finn Jones, of Game of Thrones fame, has officially been cast as Danny Rand in the new Netflix original series Iron Fist. The show will join the hugely popular Marvel crossovers Jessica Jones, Daredevil and the soon-to-premiere Luke Cage. With the success of its predecessors, there’s no doubt that Iron Fist will be a big hit, so why are some fans so upset?
Fans have been lobbying for Marvel to cast an Asian-American actor in the role to add some diversity to their universe. Though Rand is depicted as a white man in the original comics, fans hope that changing his race will not only add diversity to a whitewashed world, but also create more depth to the character.
A study performed by two Indian University professors researched how the lack representation can affect preteen children. They found that these young children use the media to evaluate themselves, and when their favorite shows misrepresent or fail to represent them at all, the lack of something to compare themselves to can have a huge impact on their self-esteem. Overall, they found that television exposure leads to a decrease in self-esteem for white girls and black boys and an increase for white boys. Looking at the kind of representation these children are exposed to, the results really aren’t that shocking.
Choosing not to represent minorities in the media is a choice. There are many successful shows that make a conscious effort to emphasize representation, and some critics even claim that this is the secret to their success. As we continue into the 2016 season of television and film, we have to realize that we can’t ignore the minorities any longer. They’ve always been there, and now it’s time to bring them into the light.